Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Eaton's: From Sea to Sea

Most large Canadian cities boasted an Eaton's store in the centre of their downtown shopping core and if they didn't, there was the ever present Eaton's Catalogue. (Bruce Allen Copytek, Eaton's:  The Trans-Canada Store)

Allan points out in his book Eaton's:  The Trans-Canada Store that the phrase "A Mari Usque Ad Mare", written on Canada's Coat of Arms, refers both to the nation and the department store.  Both the nation, formed in 1867, and the department store, opened in 1869, eventually stretched from sea to sea.  At the time of Confederation, Canada had only four provinces:  Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  Bit by bit, the nation grew to ten provinces and two (now three) territories.  When Eaton's opened, it consisted of just the Queen Street Store.  At its peak, it included almost 100 stores across Canada, hence the term Trans-Canada Store. 

Designed by fine Canadian architects, there was the classic Eaton's store built on Ste Catherine Street in Montreal and the art deco store built on College Street in Toronto.  The downtown Saskatoon store is a landmark used by the Board of Education.  The red brick Portage Avenue store in Winnipeg was a beautiful building.  While the Hamilton store is a simple yellow brick design, it was built to last. 

They say that one in six Canada either worked at Eaton's or knew someone who did.  And of course the number of Canadians who shopped at Eaton's was even higher.  At its peak, Eaton's became "part of the social fabric of Canada," touching every province, from sea to sea.

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