The Toys From Our Childhood: Toys from the early 1900s - Page Banner



The first department stores such as Macy’s in New York (1875) Marshall Field's in Chicago (1899) and Eatons established toys as a marketable commodity. Many other stores began to realise that toys were big sellers and not just during the Christmas season, but even then they were generally only available in the larger cities.

Toys became far more accessible with the rise of the mail order catalogue as seen in this exhibit.

Eatons and Sears Roebuck were pioneers in this field and, for many children, spending hours perusing the catalogue was their equivalent to a visit to a store's toy department unless a trip had been planned to the city for supplies or to visit relatives.

Photograph : Eaton's doll department in the 1930's

Eaton's Doll Department
T. Eaton Company Records
Reference Code: F 229-308-0-2138
Archives of Ontario





Image of Crokinole Board

Christmas Catalogue, 1902
T. Eaton Company Records
Reference Code: F 229-231-0-2
Archives of Ontario

Catalogue image of Tiddley Winks

Christmas Catalogue, 1902
T. Eaton Company Records
Reference Code: F 229-231-0-2
Archives of Ontario





Image of Baby Carriage

Christmas Catalogue, 1902
T. Eaton Company Records
Reference Code: F 229-231-0-2
Archives of Ontario

Image of model stationary steam engine

Christmas Catalogue, 1897
T. Eaton Company Records
Reference Code: F 229-231-0-2
Archives of Ontario





Image of doll house

Christmas Catalogue, 1902
T. Eaton Company Records
Reference Code: F 229-231-0-2
Archives of Ontario

Catalogue image of of doll

Fall Winter Catalogue, 1908-1909
T. Eaton Company Records
Reference Code: F 229-162-0-1215
Archives of Ontario





Photo: Large toy car

T. Eaton Company Records
Reference Code: F 229-308-0-2134
Archives of Ontario

Photo: Toy sailboats

T. Eaton Company Records
Reference Code: F 229-308-0-2134
Archives of Ontario





The advent of the home movie camera allowed families to record special occasions as keepsakes for the future. The video clips below are from Christmas home movies created by Norman G. Irwin and document not only the growth of his family through the 1930's, but also show some of the toys enjoyed by his children.

Christmas 1931

Christmas 1935

Video Clip: Christmas 1931
For Windows Media Player 367K 1.15MB
For Quicktime Player 659K 2.08MB
Choose the appropriate file format for your computer and select a file size depending on the speed of your internet connection. The image quality will depend on the file size.

G. Norman Irwin fonds
Reference Code: C 92-1-0-6
Archives of Ontario

Video Clip: Christmas 1935
For Windows Media Player 400K 1.25 MB
For Quicktime Player 722K 2.28MB
Choose the appropriate file format for your computer and select a file size depending on the speed of your internet connection. The image quality will depend on the file size.

G. Norman Irwin fonds
Reference Code: C 92-1-0-26
Archives of Ontario





Christmas Eve 1938

Christmas Day 1938

Video Clip:
For Windows Media Player 435K 1.37MB
For Quicktime Player 785K 2.48MB
Choose the appropriate file format for your computer and select a file size depending on the speed of your internet connection. The image quality will depend on the file size.

G. Norman Irwin fonds
Reference Code: C 92-1-0-36
Archives of Ontario

Video Clip: Christmas Eve 1938
For Windows Media Player 449K 1.39MB
For Quicktime Player 798K 2.52MB
Choose the appropriate file format for your computer and select a file size depending on the speed of your internet connection. The image quality will depend on the file size.

G. Norman Irwin fonds
Reference Code: C 92-1-0-36
Archives of Ontario