An Evolution in Shopping

Timothy Eaton Company store windowfront

Following the Industrial Revolution, shop windows full of mass-manufactured products were a common sight in Peterborough. By the 1890s, bartering or trading for goods and custom-made items became less common.

Timothy Eaton started T. Eaton & Co. in Toronto in 1869 (later known as ‘Eaton’s’ which was once Canada’s largest department store). Every item was marked with a fixed price; trading and haggling were unacceptable. Eaton’s would take items back if the customer was not satisfied, and carried a wider selection of pre-made products at lower prices than small stores offered. These conveniences made stores like Eaton’s soar in popularity.

Eaton’s first mail order catalogue, produced in 1884, was targeted towards women. During the Victorian Era, jobs for women created in offices and factories were changing the way women dressed and how much time they spent at home. The catalogue quickly developed to sell mass produced clothing and goods. Like the Internet today, the mail order catalogue allowed for the ease of shopping from home.

Depicted in the family portrait is John Craig Eaton who was the son of Timothy Eaton, alongside his children – Timothy Craig and John David

John Craig Eaton _ Family

Timothy Eaton, alongside his children – Timothy Craig and John David (baby) – and his wife Flora Eaton (nee McCrae)

(baby) – and his wife Flora Eaton (nee McCrae). J.C. Eaton took over as president of Eaton’s following the death of his father. With this title, he greatly expanded the company. He was a good businessman and philanthropist, especially in Omemee, where his wife was from.

From the Roy Studio Collection is a 1929 window display at the local TECO (Timothy Eaton Company) store, located in the old Turnbull building on the north-west corner of George and Simcoe streets. In more recent years, it was the Zellers building and is now the Turnbull Medical Centre. In the window, you can see footwear being advertised from $1.98 – $2.98.

The Peterborough Museum & Archives is located at 300 Hunter Street East, in Ashburnham Memorial Park, atop Armour Hill. Our featured exhibition is, “If the Shoe Fits: Fashion, Function, Footwear” which has been curated and presented by the students of Fleming College’s Museum Management & Curatorship program, on display until June 24th.

www.peterboroughmuseumandarchives.ca

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