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Introduction

The T. Eaton Company Ltd. helped set the tone for the Yuletide season for many Canadians throughout the twentieth century, with their seasonal catalogue, Santa Claus parade, holiday advertisements and Christmas window displays.

Every year in late autumn, Eaton's display windows assumed a festive air in the days leading up to Christmas. The tradition of holiday décor was well established by the mid-1920s, and seasonal store windows became a staple of Christmas in Toronto and other Canadian cities and towns for the next seven decades.

For four or five weeks each year, families would crowd around the fantasy windows, moving eagerly from one to the next, savouring the three-dimensional stories featuring toys, humanistic animals, workshop elves or Santa Claus. At first, the emphasis was on fun, but by the mid-1940s, Biblical nativity scenes joined the mix.

This exhibit explores the records of Ted and Eleanor Konkle at the Archives of Ontario. The Konkles were a married couple who designed and produced the annual Christmas windows for the T. Eaton Company's College Street store in Toronto from 1953 to 1963.

Christmas doll circus, 1930
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Christmas doll circus, 1930
Black and white print
T. Eaton Company fonds
Reference Code: F 229
Archives of Ontario, I0029055

Nativity scene, Toronto, [between 1961 and 1968]
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Nativity scene, Toronto, [between 1961 and 1968]
Black and white print
T. Eaton Company fonds
Reference Code: F 229
Archives of Ontario, I0028580

Post office scene, 1955
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Post office scene, 1955
Black and white print
T. Eaton Company fonds
Reference Code: F 229
Archives of Ontario, I0028558

Fantasia display, 1962
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Fantasia display, 1962
Colour print
Ted and Eleanor Konkle fonds
Reference Code: F 4610
Archives of Ontario, I0052185

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