Canadian Fashion Connection – Rosbergs

Jacob Wolfe Rosberg and Mary (Mindel) and their four children emigrated from Kielce, Poland to Toronto in 1913. After a few years, the family moved to Niagara Falls to open a menswear shop that supplied workers at the Queenston hydroelectric project. On October 18th, 1919, the shop opened near the corner of Erie and Queen streets in downtown Niagara Falls. Over the next fifty years the business grew into a three story department store filling an entire city block. The buildings were refaced in the late 1960s with the name ROSBERGS prominently displayed on the façade. 

A sale at Rosbergs

Rosberg’s wasn’t a high end department store. It was where you went to buy back-to-school clothes, underwear, uniforms, and Canadian-made everyday fashions for work and home. A branch was opened in Welland, Ontario when the store was at its peak of success in the 1950s/60s. 

Competition for Rosbergs increased as major stores like Sears and Eaton’s anchored malls in the region (Pen Centre in 1958, and Seaway Mall in 1975). The era of the department store declined as shopping malls became more successful in the 1970s and 1980s. Rosbergs closed in 1988 and the building sat dormant until it was consumed by fire in 2009.

A granddaughter of the founders, Jacob and Mary Rosberg, was Barbara Rosburg (1937 – 1992) who was better known as CBC anchor journalist Barbara Frum. 

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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