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History of WEM

The history of WEM is the story of a proud and resourceful family with a long, rich history. It begins in the late 1940s, when the Ghermezians left their homeland for New York. In the ‘50s, they began to move north and west. Jacob Ghermezian, the family patriarch, sent his eldest sons to Montreal where they were educated and re-established the family business, selling Persian rugs. In the ‘60s and ‘70s decided to settle in Edmonton. In the late ‘70s they hatched the idea of WEM.

The Mall opened in September 1981 with Phase I. It was 1,140,560 square feet and featured 220 stores and services.

Phase II opened in September 1983 and increased the size of the Mall by 1,129,800 square feet. Phase II brought the Ice Palace Skating Rink, Galaxyland Amusement Park and another 240 shops and services.

Phase III opened in September 1985. World Waterpark, Deep Sea Adventure, Dolphin Lagoon, Sea Life Caverns and Professor Wem’s Adventure Golf all became a reality with Phase III and the Mall grew to a total of 5.2 million square feet, occupying a total land mass of 120 acres.

In 1986, with the opening of the highly anticipated Fantasyland Hotel, another 12 storeys were added. Innovative and unique, this hotel offered guests the opportunity to travel the world in its five theme room styles.

During the ‘90s, Phase IV opened and included mega-versions of Chapters, Starbucks, HMV and Scotiabank Theatre/IMAX 3D Theatre. West Edmonton Mall Inn opened across the street in 1999 to accommodate the increasing number of tourists.