Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Eaton's

Eaton's

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Eaton's'
Start a new discussion about 'Eaton's'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The T. Eaton Co. Limited was once Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

's largest department store
Department store
A department store is a retail establishment which satisfies a wide range of the consumer's personal and residential durable goods product needs; and at the same time offering the consumer a choice of multiple merchandise lines, at variable price points, in all product categories...

 retailer. It was founded in 1869 in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 by Timothy Eaton
Timothy Eaton
Timothy Eaton was a Canadian businessman who founded the Eaton's department store, one of the most important retail businesses in Canada's history.-Early life and family:...

, an Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 immigrant. Eaton's grew to become a retail and social institution in Canada, with stores across the country, buying offices across the globe, and a catalogue that was found in the homes of most Canadians. A changing economic and retail environment in the late 20th century, and mismanagement culminated in the chain's bankruptcy
Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

 in 1999.

Early years



In 1869 Timothy Eaton sold his interest in a small dry-goods store in the market town of St. Marys, Ontario
St. Marys, Ontario
St. Marys is a town in southwestern Ontario, Canada. It is located on the Thames River southwest of Stratford in Perth County, and surrounded by the Township of Perth South. The town is also known by its nickname, "The Stone Town", due to the abundance of limestone in the surrounding area, giving...

 and bought a dry-goods and haberdashery business at 178 Yonge Street
Yonge Street
Yonge Street is a major arterial route connecting the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto to Lake Simcoe, a gateway to the Upper Great Lakes. It was formerly listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest street in the world at , and the construction of Yonge Street is designated an "Event of...

 in the city of Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

.

The first store was only 24 by 60 ft (7.3 by 18.3 m), with two shop windows, and was located a fair distance from Toronto's then fashionable shopping district of King Street West. In its first year of operation, with Timothy Eaton responsible for buying the goods to stock the store, and a staff of four, expectations were low that a store with a no-credit and no-haggling policy would succeed.

The business prospered, and Eaton moved the store one block north in August 1883 into much larger premises at 190 Yonge Street. The new store boasted the biggest plate-glass windows in Toronto, the first electric lights in any Canadian store, three full floors of retail space featuring 35 departments, and a lightwell
Lightwell
In architecture a lightwell, light well or air shaft is an unroofed external space provided within the volume of a large building to allow light and air to reach what would otherwise be dark or unventilated area...

 that ran the full-length of the store. The store’s first telephone, with phone number 370, was installed in 1885. In 1886, the first elevator in a retail establishment in Toronto was installed in the Eaton store (although only customers going up were invited to use the elevator, thus requiring them to pass by the various store displays on their walk down).

Eaton maintained the lease on the empty store at 178 Yonge Street until its expiry in 1884 in order to delay the expansion plans of one of his competitors, Robert Simpson
Robert Simpson (store founder)
Robert Simpson was the founder of Simpson's Department Store.Born in Strathspey, Moray, Scotland in 1834 to Peter Simpson and Jane Christie Parmouth...

. Over time, the competition between the Simpson's
Simpson's
The Robert Simpson Company, or Simpsons , was a Canadian department store chain, founded by Robert Simpson. The chain was eventually bought by the Hudson's Bay Company.- History :...

 and Eaton’s department stores, facing each other across Queen Street West, became one of Toronto’s great business rivalries. The pedestrian crosswalk on Queen Street West, just to the west of the intersection with Yonge Street, was for years one of the busiest in Canada, as thousands of shoppers a day comparison shopped between Eaton's and Simpson's.

By 1896, Eaton's was billing itself as "Canada’s Greatest Store". The store continued to expand in size, and new buildings were constructed to house the mail order division and the Eaton's factories. The number of people employed in Eaton's operations numbered 17,500 in 1911. In 1919, the Eaton's buildings in Toronto contained a floor space of over 60 acres (242,811.6 m²), and occupied several city blocks between Yonge Street and Bay Street
Bay Street
Bay Street, originally known as Bear Street, is a major thoroughfare in Downtown Toronto. It is the centre of Toronto's Financial District and is often used by metonymy to refer to Canada's financial industry since succeeding Montreal's St. James Street in that role in the 1970s...

, north of Queen Street West.

The Winnipeg store


At the beginning of the 20th century, Eaton's conducted a large business in Western Canada through its catalogue. Eaton's considered Winnipeg
Winnipeg
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, and is the primary municipality of the Winnipeg Capital Region, with more than half of Manitoba's population. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers .The name...

, Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

 as the most logical location for a new mail order warehouse to better serve its western customers. A store was not originally part of the plans.

John Craig Eaton
John Craig Eaton
Sir John Craig Eaton was a Canadian businessman, and member of the prominent Eaton Family.Sir John was the youngest son of Toronto department store magnate Timothy Eaton, and his wife, Margaret Wilson Beattie Eaton. John was born in Toronto...

, the son of Timothy Eaton, became an early proponent of building a combined store and mail order operation in Winnipeg. Although Timothy Eaton initially had misgivings over the difficulties involved in managing a store 2100 kilometres (1,304.9 mi) kilometres from Toronto, John Craig was eventually able to convince his father. Eaton's acquired a city block on Portage Avenue at Donald Street, and the five-storey Eaton's store opened to much fanfare on July 15, 1905. Timothy Eaton and his family were on hand for the opening of the second Eaton's store, with the Winnipeg Daily Tribune
Winnipeg Tribune
The Winnipeg Tribune was a metropolitan daily newspaper serving Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada from January 28, 1890 to August 27, 1980. The paper was founded by R.L. Richardson and D.L. McIntyre who acquired the press and premises of the old Winnipeg Sun newspaper. It was often viewed as a liberal...

noting in its front page headline: "The Canadian Napoleon of Retail Commerce Reaches the Capital - Views His Great Store for First Time - Well Pleased".

The landmark red brick store, known as "the Big Store" to Winnipeggers, was a success. The initial staff of 750 grew to 1200 within a few weeks of the opening. By 1910, three more storeys were added to the store and other buildings were constructed. By 1919, the Eaton's operations in Winnipeg covered 21 acres (84,984.1 m²) and employed 8000 people.

For many years, the Winnipeg Eaton's store was considered the most successful department store in the world, given how it dominated its local market. As late as the 1960s, Canadian Magazine estimated that Winnipeggers spent more than 50 cents of every shopping dollar (excluding groceries) at Eaton's, and that on a busy day, one out of every ten Winnipeggers would visit the Portage Avenue store.

Canada’s dominant retailer



The success of Eaton’s helped revolutionize department store retailing in North America. American retailers flocked to view the stores on Yonge Street and Portage Avenue, anxious to replicate Timothy Eaton’s methods south of the border. Until the 1950s, Eaton's promoted itself as the "largest retail organization in the British Empire".

In 1905, The Globe wrote: "There is hardly a name in Canada, with the possible exception of the Prime Minister, so well known to the people at large as that of Mr. Timothy Eaton." Timothy Eaton died in 1907, and was succeeded by John Craig Eaton as President of the T. Eaton Co. Limited. The company’s success continued under Timothy’s heir.

In 1925, Eaton's purchased the Goodwin's store in Montreal. By 1927, Montreal boasted a new six-storey Eaton’s store on Saint Catherine Street
Saint Catherine Street
This article is about the street in Montreal called the rue Sainte-Catherine in French. For other streets of this name, see Rue Sainte-Catherine ....

, which was expanded to nine storeys in 1930. Over time, Eaton's stores opened in other cities across the country.

In 1977, the Toronto Eaton Centre
Toronto Eaton Centre
The Toronto Eaton Centre is a large shopping mall and office complex in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, named after the now-defunct Eaton's department store chain that once anchored it. In terms of the number of visitors, the shopping mall is Toronto's top tourist attraction, with around one...

 opened in downtown Toronto, replacing two previous downtown Eaton's stores. The complex — stretching 400 m on several levels from Dundas to Queen Street and boasting 200 stores — was anchored at the north end by a nine-storey Eaton's store.

The Eaton’s catalogue



The first Eaton's catalogue was a 34-page booklet issued in 1884. As Eaton’s grew, so did the catalogue. By 1920, Eaton's operated mail order warehouses in Winnipeg, Toronto and Moncton to serve its catalogue customers. Catalogue order offices were also established throughout the country, with the first opening in Oakville
Oakville, Ontario
Oakville is a town in Halton Region, on Lake Ontario in Southern Ontario, Canada, and is part of the Greater Toronto Area. As of the 2006 census the population was 165,613.-History:In 1793, Dundas Street was surveyed for a military road...

 in 1916.

At a time when Canada's population was predominantly rural, often living in isolated settlements, the Eaton's catalogue provided a selection of goods that was otherwise unavailable to many Canadians. It served an important economic role, as it broke local monopolies and allowed all Canadians access to the prices and selection enjoyed in some of the larger cities. The catalogue offered everything from clothing to farming implements. Some Canadians even purchased their homes from the catalogue, with Eaton's delivering to them all the materials necessary to build a small prefabricated house. Today, a large number of Eaton's catalogue homes still exist throughout the country, primarily in the West. The catalogue had many other uses, ranging from its use as a learning tool by settlers learning to speak English, to its use as goalie pads during hockey games.

The catalogue became an icon of Canadian culture, even appearing in many works of Canadian literature
Canadian literature
Canadian literature is literature originating from Canada. Collectively it is often called CanLit. Some criticism of Canadian literature has focused on nationalistic and regional themes, although this is only a small portion of Canadian Literary criticism...

. In Roch Carrier
Roch Carrier
Roch Carrier, OC is a Canadian novelist and author of "contes" . He is among the best known Quebec writers in English Canada....

's story The Hockey Sweater
The Hockey Sweater
"The Hockey Sweater" is a short story published in 1979 by Canadian author Roch Carrier....

, a young Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 boy asks his mother for a Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens are a professional ice hockey team based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The club is officially known as ...

 hockey jersey from the Eaton's catalogue, but receives a Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a professional ice hockey team based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

 jersey instead. As the family is francophone
Francophone
The adjective francophone means French-speaking, typically as primary language, whether referring to individuals, groups, or places. Often, the word is used as a noun to describe a natively French-speaking person....

, the mother does not order using the catalogue forms but instead writes a note and sends money to the department store. Because of the prevalent language and cultural barriers of the English- and French-speaking Canadian populations, his family is unaware that the item could be exchanged, and they do not wish to offend Mr. Eaton by returning it.

Over time, the catalogue became a less profitable operation, and by the 1970s, it was a money-losing proposition. As Canada's population became more urban over the course of the 20th century, Canadians had access to a greater number of local stores, and were less reliant on catalogue purchases. By the mid-1970s, it was estimated that 60% of the suburban customers throughout Canada lived within a thirty-minute drive of an Eaton’s store. Others blamed Eaton’s management for the catalogue’s failures, pointing to the similar Simpsons-Sears catalogue (now the Sears Canada
Sears Canada
Sears Canada Inc. is a retailer, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, that operates in all provinces and territories across Canada with a network of 196 corporate stores, 195 dealer stores, 38 home improvement showrooms, 108 Sears Travel offices and a nationwide home maintenance, repair, and...

 catalogue), which continues to this day even though it has never enjoyed the iconic status or popularity of the Eaton's catalogue.

At a news conference on January 14, 1976, Eaton's announced that the 1976 spring-summer catalogue would be their last. 9000 mail-order employees were out of work. Many Canadians were in shock. In one notable incident, Barbara Frum
Barbara Frum
Barbara Frum, OC was a Canadian radio and television journalist, acclaimed for her interviews for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.-Personal life:...

 of CBC Radio
CBC Radio
CBC Radio generally refers to the English-language radio operations of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The CBC operates a number of radio networks serving different audiences and programming niches, all of which are outlined below.-English:CBC Radio operates three English language...

’s As It Happens
As It Happens
As It Happens is a long-running interview show on CBC Radio One in Canada. Its 40th anniversary was celebrated on-air on 18 November 2008. It has been one of the most popular and acclaimed shows on CBC Radio; it is also distributed in the United States by Public Radio International.The bulk of the...

opened her interview of Eaton’s president Earl Orser
Earl Orser
Earl Herbert Orser, was a Canadian businessman.Born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Frank Herbert Orser and Ethel Majorie Cox, Orser attended Danforth Technical School...

 with the question "Mr. Orser, how could you?"

The Toronto Santa Claus Parade



Eaton sponsored the annual Eaton's Santa Claus Parade
Toronto Santa Claus Parade
The Toronto Santa Claus Parade is a Santa Claus parade held annually in mid-November in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. More than a half million people attend the parade every year. The parade starts at 12:30pm and ends approximately 3:30pm...

 in Toronto. The first parade took place on December 2, 1905. For a number of years, Eaton's Santa Claus Parades were also held in Winnipeg and Montreal.

By the 1950s, the Toronto parade was the largest in North America, stretching for a mile and a half and involving thousands of participants. It was broadcast live on radio and television in Canada, and CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 television in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 broadcasted the parade for a number of years.

In August 1982, Eaton's announced that it would no longer sponsor the Santa Claus Parade, due to increasing costs. A consortium of local businesses saved the parade, which continues to be held every year.

Eaton's in Quebec


Originally Eaton's mail order catalogue was English, including in Quebec. Beginning in 1899 customers could correspond with Eaton's in French. In 1910 Eaton's produced its first French catalogue and eventually all catalogues were bilingual.

In the flagship Montreal store sales staff were predominantly bilingual, as was advertising and signage. In the 1960's the store would become a symbol for Quebec's nationalist movement, which perpetuated the myth of the "fat, damned English lady" employee who couldn't speak French. By the 1970's, in response French language politics, Eaton's unofficially became "Eaton" in Quebec.

Unsuccessful expansion


In the 1970s, Eaton's tried to expand its reach in Canadian retailing by opening a chain of discount or "junior" department stores called Horizon. The Horizon chain was closed in 1978. Three of its stores were converted to Eaton's stores, and the others were permanently closed.

In the 1970s and 1980s, through the provincial government's Ontario Downtown Renewal Programme, Eaton's was a partner in the development of downtown malls in smaller cities, intended to foster the revitalization of urban cores. As the chain formed the anchor of many of these shopping centres, these often carried the "Eaton Centre
Eaton Centre
Eaton Centre is a name associated with shopping malls in Canada, originating with Eaton's, one of Canada's largest department store chains at the time that these malls were developed. Eaton's partnered with development companies throughout the 1970s and 1980s to develop downtown shopping malls in...

" name. Nearly all these malls — in cities such as Sarnia
Sarnia, Ontario
Sarnia is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada . It is the largest city on Lake Huron and is located where the upper Great Lakes empty into the St. Clair River....

, Brantford and Guelph
Guelph
Guelph is a city in Ontario, Canada.Guelph may also refer to:* Guelph , consisting of the City of Guelph, Ontario* Guelph , as the above* University of Guelph, in the same city...

 — had high vacancy rates and poor patronage, and contributed to the store's financial problems.

Suburban competition


The economic recession of the early 1980s hurt the company. The Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

, Sears Canada
Sears Canada
Sears Canada Inc. is a retailer, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, that operates in all provinces and territories across Canada with a network of 196 corporate stores, 195 dealer stores, 38 home improvement showrooms, 108 Sears Travel offices and a nationwide home maintenance, repair, and...

, and Zellers
Zellers
Zellers Inc. is Canada's second-largest chain of mass merchandise discount stores, with locations in communities across Canada. A subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company , it has 273 locations across the country....

 all took market share from Eaton's. By the 1990s, American retailers, most notably Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , branded as Walmart since 2008 and Wal-Mart before then, is an American public multinational corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world's 18th largest public corporation, according to the Forbes Global 2000...

, were expanding into Canada, and Eaton's found it increasingly difficult to compete.

Retailing and land use trends in the last decades of the 20th century did not favour Eaton's. Traditional department stores, including Eaton's, commanded an ever-shrinking share of the Canadian retail dollar, as big box stores, such as Wal-Mart and Zellers, and specialty stores expanded their shares of retail sales. With the advent of urban sprawl, most Canadian downtown shopping districts (which were historically dominated by Eaton's) had to increasingly share retail sales with growing suburban shopping areas, where Eaton's was just one of many competitors.

Family management


Eaton's difficulties were not all caused by external forces. Poor management by the last two generations of Eaton family members to run the chain contributed to the demise of Eaton's. Stores that once served as landmarks in their communities were not renovated. New Eaton's stores built since the 1960s were largely indistinguishable from other chain stores, further reducing Eaton's status as a destination store.

The end of the catalogue and of the Eaton's Santa Claus parades, though being cost-saving measures, ensured Eaton's no longer held the same place in Canadians' hearts.

The chain that had touted itself in the 1940s and 1950s as "The Store for Young Canada" lost touch with younger customers, and unintentionally became known as a chain that catered to older shoppers. Once known for its superior customer service (with its staff proudly known as "Eatonians"), Eaton's began to cut back on sales staff and training in an effort to trim costs. A chain that had once prided itself on its buying offices throughout the globe and on the unique and diverse goods that it offered its customers had, by the latter half of the twentieth century, an antiquated supply chain and a haphazard and confused approach to merchandising.

In one particularly disastrous move, Eaton’s moved to an "Everyday Value Pricing" strategy (also known as "Eaton Value") in 1991, which meant that all discounts and sales, including Eaton’s famous Trans-Canada Sale, were eliminated. The strategy quickly drove away customers, but was continued for four years before it was abandoned.

In 1997, seeing the success of The Bay in higher-end retailing, Eaton's lured their chief executive George Kosich over to try to duplicate the strategy. The Hudson's Bay Company filed a lawsuit saying that Kosich had violated his employment contract. Eaton's had also sued HBC for poaching several of its executives. Aside from that controversy, the new retailing strategy was not only unsuccessful, it also gave rival Sears Canada the opportunity to move up to the market segment long dominated by Eaton's. Kosich resigned in 1998 and was replaced by chairman Brent Ballantyne.

Bankruptcy



The chain, which controlled almost 60% of all department store sales in Canada in 1930, had been reduced to a market share of 10.6% in 1997. The T. Eaton Co. first filed for bankruptcy protection in 1997. At the time, the company had an estimated 24,500 employees and over 90 retail outlets. The plan was to close 31 underperforming stores, including two-thirds of its stores in Alberta. However, Eaton's limited the number of store closures to 20. George Eaton
George Eaton
George Ross Eaton was the youngest son of Signy and John David Eaton. He gained fame as a Canadian race driver who drove sports cars, Can Am, Formula One and Formula A cars. He served as president of the family company for ten years...

, the last of the family to be involved in management, resigned as chief executive in 1997, being succeeded by George Kosich. In September of that year, creditors approved the restructuring plan.

In 1998, George Kosich resigned as chairman of the board and was succeeded by Brent Ballantyne, under whom the company was taken public for the first time in its history, issuing 11.7 million common shares at $15 each, while the Eaton family retained control with a 51 percent stake.

The chain finally folded in 1999 after operating for 130 years. Though it had reduced its retail outlets to 64, it finished 1998 with a net loss of $72 million, and it announced further closures and a corporate restructuring plan. This was unsuccessful and the company went bankrupt in August 1999.

Acquisition by Sears



Eaton's corporate assets were acquired by Sears Canada in a $50-million deal. Sears purchased all the shares of T. Eaton Co., eight of its stores, with the option to buy five more, and the Eaton's name, trademarks, brands, and Web site. For the first time in its history, Sears held the leases to a number of prime locations in Toronto (Eaton Centre and Yorkdale Mall), Vancouver (Pacific Centre), Victoria, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Calgary (all former Eaton's stores). Sears had intended to obtain the former downtown Montreal store, although it lost out to the incumbent Les Ailes de la Mode
Complexe Les Ailes (Montreal)
Complexe Les Ailes is a retail and office complex on Saint Catherine Street in Downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Designed by the firm Ross and Macdonald and first constructed between 1925 and 1927, the building served as the Eaton's department store until 1999...

.

Sears Canada closed some Eaton's stores, converted others to Sears stores, sold others to the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

, and kept a number of downtown stores with the intention of relaunching eatons in 2000 as a more high-end, modern brand, with a lowercase "e" in a circle as its logo and a splashy ad campaign built around the colour aubergine
Eggplant (color)
Eggplant is a dark purple or brownish-purple color that resembles the color of the outer skin of European eggplants. Another name for the color eggplant is aubergine ....

. Sears also launched an eatons catalogue, with the intent to complement Sears' moderate catalogue assortment with something more upscale and urban. According to Rick Brown, senior vice president for strategic initiatives at Sears Canada, merchandise was supposed to be priced above the level of Sears Canada and The Bay, but below Holt Renfrew
Holt Renfrew
Holt Renfrew is a chain of high-end Canadian department stores. It is comparable to Barneys New York and Saks Fifth Avenue in the United States, and to two other upmarket chains owned by the same family, Britain's Selfridges and Ireland's Brown Thomas...

.

Sears had trouble securing name brand merchandise consistent with the image of the new chain. This was mainly because of Eaton's bankruptcy. It was also because of doubt in Sears' ability to manage an upper-end chain, since until recently their merchandise was of lower price and quality compared to the old Eaton's and The Bay. George Heller
George Heller
George Heller is a Canadian businessperson. He was the president and CEO of Hudson's Bay Company from 1999 to 2006, when the company was acquired by Jerry Zucker. He continued to serve as Senior Director of the Board until late 2008....

, then-president of rival department store The Bay, publicly warned vendors not to supply the new Eaton's with merchandise. Many mid-to-upper tier brands, particularly in clothing, feared reprisal and avoided the new Eaton's.

The new Eaton's was scheduled to open September 1, 2000, but was pushed back three times, eventually opening November 25. Consequently, Eaton's had missed much of the lucrative holiday season and opened with merchandise already marked down. Construction was haphazard; all stores opened unfinished and renovations would continue well into 2001.

The seven-store experiment was not successful, and Sears Canada President Paul Walters
Paul Walters
Paul Walters was a BBC radio and TV producer, most noted for his work and appearances on Sir Terry Wogan's BBC Radio 2 breakfast show Wake Up to Wogan, where he was known to millions as "Dr Wally Poultry"...

 was forced to resign. He was replaced by a former rival and Sears Roebuck executive from the U.S., Mark Cohen, who prioritized Sears over eatons and cut back aggressively on markdown strategies. By March 2001 Sears announced they were ceasing publication of the newly resurrected eatons catalogue "due to a lack of interest". Although Mark Cohen officially announced that the eatons chain had seen an impressive rebound in June 2001, by 2002 he retired the "eatons" name. It converted the remaining stores to Sears, including the flagship Eaton Centre store located at the Toronto Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto.

Legacy


Eaton's transformed retailing in Canada, and its methods were eagerly adopted by retailers throughout the world. Many approaches to sales and service that are taken for granted by customers today were originally popularised by Timothy Eaton and his store.

Many Canadians, particularly older Canadians, have fond memories of the Eaton's stores and the catalogue. Few defunct companies evoke the same strong emotions among Canadians as does Eaton's.

Several shopping centres in Canada continue to be called Eaton Centres, most notably the Toronto Eaton Centre
Toronto Eaton Centre
The Toronto Eaton Centre is a large shopping mall and office complex in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, named after the now-defunct Eaton's department store chain that once anchored it. In terms of the number of visitors, the shopping mall is Toronto's top tourist attraction, with around one...

 and the Centre Eaton
Centre Eaton (Montreal)
The Montreal Eaton Centre is a shopping mall located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and the largest in downtown Montreal. It is located in the heart of Montreal underground.-Location:...

 in downtown Montreal. The Toronto Eaton Centre is a tourist attraction in Toronto, with over one million visitors a week.

Architecture


Eaton's leaves an architectural legacy, primarily through the work of the architecture firm Ross and Macdonald
Ross and Macdonald
Ross and Macdonald was one of Canada's most notable architecture firms in the early 20th century. Based in Montreal, Quebec, the firm originally operated as a partnership between George Allen Ross and David MacFarlane from 1907 to 1912. MacFarlane retired in 1913, and Robert Henry Macdonald...

. Eaton’s College Street
College Park (Toronto)
College Park is a shopping mall, residential and office complex located on the southwest corner of Yonge Street and College Street in Toronto, Ontario, Canada...

 in Toronto, opened in 1930, is an Art Deco
Art Deco
Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...

 masterpiece, and is currently used as a retail, office and residential complex. The Seventh Floor, occupied by the Eaton Auditorium and the Round Room restaurant, was recently restored and now operates as The Carlu event venue. In 1971, the Eaton's / John Maryon Tower
Eaton's / John Maryon Tower
Eaton's / John Maryon Tower was a proposed supertall 140-storey office skyscraper, to be built in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 1971, Eaton's was going to team up with a developer named John Maryon to build a 1,650 ft tower in the College Park area of Downtown Toronto...

 near Eaton's College Street was proposed by Eaton's and a developer named John Maryon, but it was never built.

The former Eaton’s store in Montreal
Complexe Les Ailes (Montreal)
Complexe Les Ailes is a retail and office complex on Saint Catherine Street in Downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Designed by the firm Ross and Macdonald and first constructed between 1925 and 1927, the building served as the Eaton's department store until 1999...

 (now Complexe Les Ailes), also designed by Ross and Macdonald, remains a landmark on Saint Catherine Street, and is currently occupied by a large shopping mall. After being closed for several years following Eaton's bankruptcy, the 9th floor restaurant in the downtown Montreal store was recently restored by Fournier, Gersovitz, Moss et associés, a Montreal architectural firm. It is protected as a registered historical site, because of its rich Art deco
Art Deco
Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...

 design.

Another Ross and Macdonald-designed landmark, the former Eaton's store in downtown Saskatoon
Eaton's Building (Saskatoon)
The Eaton's Building is a landmark building located in downtown Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Formerly serving as an Eaton's department store, the building is currently occupied by the Saskatoon Board of Education.-History:...

, now serves as the offices of the Saskatoon Board of Education after housing an Army & Navy department store for decades following Eaton's relocation to Midtown Plaza
Midtown Plaza (Saskatoon)
Midtown Plaza is a shopping mall in Downtown Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, that is owned by the Oxford Properties Group. The two main anchors are Sears Canada and The Bay and the shopping centre has a total store count of approximately 130 stores, making it the largest shopping centre in...

 in the 1960s.

The long-time downtown Calgary store, designed by Ross and Macdonald in the 1920s, was largely demolished in 1988, although two facades were preserved and incorporated into a new Holt Renfrew
Holt Renfrew
Holt Renfrew is a chain of high-end Canadian department stores. It is comparable to Barneys New York and Saks Fifth Avenue in the United States, and to two other upmarket chains owned by the same family, Britain's Selfridges and Ireland's Brown Thomas...

 store as part of a redevelopment of Calgary Eaton Centre (in 2009 Holt Renfrew re-opened in what was once Eaton's second downtown location).

The original downtown Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

 store, on Hastings Street, also remains and now serves as the downtown Harbour Centre
Harbour Centre
Harbour Centre is a notable skyscraper in the central business district of Downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The "Lookout" tower atop the office building makes it one of the tallest structures in Vancouver and a prominent landmark on the city's skyline...

  campus of Simon Fraser University
Simon Fraser University
Simon Fraser University is a Canadian public research university in British Columbia with its main campus on Burnaby Mountain in Burnaby, and satellite campuses in Vancouver and Surrey. The main campus in Burnaby, located from downtown Vancouver, was established in 1965 and has more than 34,000...

. Some Vancouver residents associate this heritage building with the Spencer's Department Store (which commissioned the construction of the store), rather than Eaton's (which bought Spencer's in 1948 and occupied the store until the 1970s). In fact, the former Eaton's store is today known as the Spencer Building.

Not all former Eaton's stores are architectural landmarks: the stores constructed from the 1960s onwards were typically architecturally inferior to their predecessors. Notably, the exterior of the Toronto Eaton Centre store can best be described as a mustard-coloured box, and is generally considered (from an architectural perspective) to be a poor replacement for the demolished Main Store. Designed in the style of the 1970s and intended at that time to be a statement of Eaton's dominance and its future aspirations, the modern design of this behemoth has not aged well (despite efforts by Sears Canada in 1999-2000 to improve the look of the building facades). Similarly, the main Vancouver store, connected to the downtown Pacific Centre
Pacific Centre
Pacific Centre is a shopping mall located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is operated by Cadillac Fairview Corporation. Based on the number of stores, many of which are underground, it is the largest mall in Downtown Vancouver with over 100 stores and services...

 mall, was also built in the 1970s as a large, white box.

After the demise of Eaton's, most stores were converted to other retail banners or other uses, with the downtown Winnipeg store generating the most controversy. When the store was emptied in late 1999, various alternative uses for the building (including residential condominiums) were considered, and ultimately all rejected. After a highly emotional civic debate, which included a "group hug" of the "Big Store" by hundreds of people in 2001, the store was demolished in 2002 to make way for a hockey arena, the MTS Centre
MTS Centre
The MTS Centre is an indoor sports arena and entertainment venue in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and home of the Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League. It is located on the former Eaton's site and is owned and operated by True North Sports & Entertainment. The 440,000 square feet ...

. In one concession to history, red bricks were incorporated into the design of the arena façade, evoking the memory of the Eaton’s store that had once graced Portage Avenue.

Timothy Eaton statue



In 1919, two life-sized statues of Timothy Eaton
Timothy Eaton statue
There are two castings of the well-known statue of Timothy Eaton, the famous Canadian retailer: one in Toronto, Ontario, the other in Winnipeg, Manitoba.-History:...

 were donated by Eaton's employees to the Toronto and Winnipeg stores, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the company. The Toronto statue is now exhibited in the Royal Ontario Museum
Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum is a museum of world culture and natural history in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. With its main entrance facing Bloor Street in Downtown Toronto, the museum is situated north of Queen's Park and east of Philosopher's Walk in the University of Toronto...

. The Winnipeg statue was housed in the suburban Polo Park Mall for a few years after 1999, until the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 opened a Bay store at that location and wanted the statue of its former competitor removed. After a tussle with the Eaton family, who wanted to move the statue to St Marys, Ontario, the Manitoba government declared it a provincial heritage object. It now sits in the city's new arena, the MTS Centre, one floor up from nearly the same spot where it stood in the old store. People often rubbed the left toe of the statue's shoe since it is believed by some to bring good luck to do so. As a result the toe is much shinier than any other part of the statue.

Possible catalogue revival


In early 2008 The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail is a nationally distributed Canadian newspaper, based in Toronto and printed in six cities across the country. With a weekly readership of approximately 1 million, it is Canada's largest-circulation national newspaper and second-largest daily newspaper after the Toronto Star...

reported a possible revival of the Eaton's brand by Sears Canada. The company was reportedly considering reviving the defunct catalogue with an online presence. Sears Canada's intellectual property subsidiary has indeed applied for new trademarks incorporating the name "Timothy Eaton" and continues to pursue registration of these as of early 2009, although the revival did not occur as expected in 2008.

See also


  • List of Canadian department stores

Suggested reading

  • Anderson, Carol and Mallison, Katharine, Lunch With Lady Eaton: Inside the Dining Rooms of a Nation, Toronto: ECW Press, 2004.
  • Belisle, Donica. Retail Nation: Department Stores and the Making of Modern Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2011.
  • Belisle, Donica. "Negotiating Paternalism: Women and Canada’s Largest Department Stores, 1890-1960,” The Journal of Women’s History 19:1 (Spring 2007), 58-81.
  • Belisle, Donica. “A Labour Force for the Consumer Century: Commodification in Canada’s Largest Department Stores, 1890-1940,” Labour/Le Travail 58:2 (Fall 2006), 107-144.
  • Belisle, Donica. "Exploring Postwar Consumption: The Campaign to Unionize Eaton’s in Toronto, 1948-1952,” The Canadian Historical Review 86:4 (December 2005), 641-672.
  • Eaton, Flora McCrea, Memory's Wall, Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company, 1956.
  • Gourluck, Russ, A Store Like No Other: Eaton's of Winnipeg, Winnipeg: Great Plains Publications, 2004.
  • Macpherson, Mary-Etta, Shopkeepers to a Nation, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1963.
  • McQueen, Rod, The Eatons: The Rise and Fall of Canada's Royal Family, Toronto: Stoddart, 1998.
  • Nasmith, George G., Timothy Eaton, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1923.
  • Phenix, Patricia, Eatonians: The Story of the Family Behind the Family, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 2003.
  • Santink, Joy L., Timothy Eaton and the Rise of His Department Store, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990.
  • Scribe, The, Golden Jubilee 1869-1919: A Book to Commemorate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the T. Eaton Co. Limited, Toronto: The T. Eaton Co. Limited, 1919.
  • Staib, Kay, ed. Eaton 100: 1869–1969, A Special Centennial Edition of Eaton Quarterly, Toronto: Eaton’s Consumer and Corporate Affairs, 1969.
  • Staib, Kay, ed., The Dreams of Man – The Toronto Eaton Centre, Toronto: Eaton’s Consumer and Corporate Affairs, 1977.
  • Stephenson, William, The Store That Timothy Built, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1969.

External links