Friday 29 January 2016

Eaton's Catalogue in Canadian Literature

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the debut of the Eaton's almost coincided with the birth of our nation.  Eaton's and Canada literally grew up together.  As one author claims, Eaton's became a part of our social fabric.  It also became a part of our literature.

As it mentions in the Eaton's archives, "The Eaton's catalogue and its women readers were in a relationship that went beyond just business."  In the classic Canadian series, Anne of Green Gables, Eaton's is mentioned in this context.  In Anne's House of Dreams (1917) busy body Mrs. Lynde complains that the Eaton's catalogues are "the Avonlea girls' Bible now...They pore over them on Sundays instead of studying the Holy Scriptures."

In Le Chandail de Hockey (The Hockey Sweater), little Roch Carrier wants a Montreal Canadiens sweater.  His mother writes a letter to Monsieur Eaton requesting a red white and blue jersey from his catalogue.  However, Monsieur Eaton mistakenly sends a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.  Roch refuses to wear the sweater, but his mother insists.  At the ice rink, Roch thinks he is forbidden to play "a cause de mon chandail bleu".  He retreats to the church where he prays to God that his Maple Leafs jersey with be eaten by a million moths.

The short story Illianna Comes Home, part of the book Dance Me Outside by W.P. Kinsella, also mentions the Eaton's Catalogue:

Then [Illianna's husband got out of the car] and he look like one of them pictures out of the Eaton's catalogue.  He got a hat with a little brim, an overcoat and a suit and tie.  He got shiny black shoes with toe rubbers too.

W. P. Kinsella, author of Dance Me Outside, also wrote Shoeless Joe, adapted for the big screen as Field of Dreams courtesy

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