Remembrance Day 2014 Online Exhibit – The Portraits

Each time a Toronto Eatonian who enlisted was shipped overseas, a portrait was taken of him to be displayed prominently in the Toronto store.  More than 2,000 of these portraits survived to become a part of the T. Eaton Company records at the Archives of Ontario (F 229).  The number of these photographs shows us the dedication of the employees of the company, but each individual face holds its own story. 

Employees - Military Affairs - War Memorials
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Employees - Military Affairs - War Memorials
[Memorial for Eaton's employees killed in WWI],
1925 Black and white print T. Eaton Company fonds
Reference Code: F 229-308-0-1436 Archives of Ontario

Some of these men were very young.  These are often the buglers, sending signals to other soldiers in camp or aboard ship.  Some were officers, proud and confident in their new uniforms.  And some did not have uniforms yet, so desperate was the need for new soldiers.

When these portraits were created, each photograph was cut to size, arranged in rough alphabetical order, and attached to a huge cardboard poster.  Each soldier’s name was written in by hand, and the resulting boards were displayed on the shop floor in the Toronto store.  Over 2,000 employees were recognized in this way. 

After these posters were taken down from the stores, they were cut into strips of four to six portraits to make them easier to store away.  They were then arranged by surname and filed with the rest of the company’s historical photographs.  These photographs were given to the Archives of Ontario along other with Eaton’s records in a series of donations between 1959 and 1991.  Sears Canada acquired the company’s corporate assets in 1999, and subsequently donated additional Eaton’s records in 2003.

Employees - Dept. Groups - General Office
Click to see a larger image
Employees - Dept. Groups - General Office
[Memorial for General Office employees],
November 11, 1923
T. Eaton Company fonds
Reference Code: F 229-308-0-1424 Archives of Ontario

To access these photographs in the Archives Reading Room, you can search our Archives Descriptive Database for “Employees - Military Affairs - World War I, photographs”

The examples below allow you to zoom in for a closer look. To find a particular soldier, proceed to the next page.

<a href="ONEremembrance_day.aspx#Soldiers">Transcript of Soldiers Story ONE</a>