The Toys of Our Childhood: The Collections - Page Banner

The Material for this exhibit was drawn from a number of collections held by the Archives of Ontario.

T. Eaton Company fonds (F 229)


The T. Eaton Company Limited was a major Canadian retailer, established in 1869 by Timothy Eaton and based in Toronto.

The store's early development was attributed to its catalogue business, established in 1884, and its guarantee of "satisfaction or money refunded." By the time of Timothy Eaton's death in 1907, the retail business had a Winnipeg branch store, mail order facilities in numerous farming communities, as well as overseas buying offices in London and Paris. The company also owned related companies and factories such as the Eaton Knitting Company, the Guelph Stove Company as well as Brampton Tire and Rubber. Eventually, Eaton's became one of the largest North American retailers with department stores in Montreal, Regina, Hamilton, Moncton, Halifax, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, New Westminster, Charlottetown and Vancouver. By 1987, the retailer had over 35,000 employees and 108 outlets.

The collection contains

  • ca. 460 metres of textual records
  • ca. 90,000 photographs
  • 124 posters
  • 108 hrs. of motion picture film
  • 390 videocassettes (37 hrs.)
  • 777 audio reels
  • 49 audiocassettes
  • 431 architectural drawings

G. Norman Irwin fonds (C 92)


G. Norman Irwin (1903-1983) was a pilot, owner of a small commercial airline, and apple grower who lived in Whitby, Ontario between 1927 and 1983.

After learning to fly in 1927, Irwin received his commercial pilot's license in 1928. During World War Two, Irwin was an officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force's training program at Aylmer, Ontario, achieving the rank of Air Commodore. Later in the 1940s Irwin established the "Red Wing Flying Service," a commercial flight service with flights originating from the Toronto Island Airport and the Port Carling hangar. Irwin also had seaplane hangars at Whitby Harbour and Worthington Point.

In 1926 Irwin married Kathleen McLaughlin and they had four children: Marion, Ray, Ralph and Bill.

Fonds consists of 110 reels of personal home movies of G. Norman Irwin and family. Subjects include home and family activities and holiday celebrations; aviators' club and church gatherings at Stonehaven; activities related to the R.C.A.F. training program during the Second World War; local parades and public events; leisure and vacation times in Muskoka; farm activities at Stonehaven; and trips to Great Britain, California, Florida, Hawaii, and other parts of Canada. Also includes a Dunlop Canada Ltd. film, entitled "Go Dunnies Go" on the Whitby Dunlops' world hockey championship at Oslo, Norway in 1958.

CFPL-TV fonds (F 4396)


CFPL television started broadcasting in London, Ontario on November 28, 1953. It was the second private station to go on the air in Canada. In its first hours of operation, it was able to broadcast a major fire in downtown London. Started up by Walter J. Blackburn, publisher of the London Free Press (CFPL stood for Free Press London), the station was originally a CBC affiliate. The CBC television network itself only started broadcasting in 1952.

Now called the New PL and owned by CHUM since 1997, the station is making a substantial donation to the Archives of Ontario. It will be donating all of its news film from November 28, 1953 to December 31, 1968 to the Archives of Ontario.

This donation of 2,700 cans of film - about 450 hours of material -- with accompanying scripts fills a significant gap in the Archives' visual documentation of southwestern Ontario. These daily news broadcasts, like a community diary, represent a significant historical record. Recorded in the footage are the rhythms of the days, years and seasons - the weather and traffic, the fairs and special events, and the election campaigns. The news also documents social and economic changes which profoundly shaped Ontario in the post-World War II era: the construction of Highway 401 through southwestern Ontario, economic expansion in the region, steps taken towards universal health care, the passage of fair accommodation practices legislation breaking discrimination against serving blacks in restaurants, and the impact of the Cold War in the 1950s. Other stories are more whimsical, such as the story of Slippery the Sea Lion who escaped from Storybook Gardens and went all the way down the Thames River to Ohio before being rescued and returned.

This is a recent acquisition and collection is expected to be made available to researchers over the course of the next two years.