I used to buy my shirts and pants here. Today I came to this old Sears department store to cast my ballot in the advance vote for Canada’s federal election. Sears shuttered its Canadian operations four years ago and this cavernous department store at St. Laurent Mall in Ottawa’s east end has been closed ever since. Most of the store’s interior is still intact. Time stopped here in January 2018, so going to vote today was like entering a commercial time capsule. Perhaps Elections Canada has a particularly weird and warped sense of humour to make use of this abandoned and decrepit temple of twentieth century commerce. One of the parties has as its campaign slogan “Secure the Future.” It reverberates discordantly off these walls.
“Tell your friends to come vote too,” said the polling clerk at a small desk after I had cast my ballot. Voting staff wait patiently for Canadians in this oversized space — sitting, standing and strolling in front of the grand escalator that will never run again.
Cover illustration by Omar Prestwich.