Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery
The first Eaton's catalogue was distributed in the fall of 1884 at the annual Industrial Exhibition, precursor to the Canadian National Exhibition.
At first orders were filled by mail-order "shoppers" who lined up to be served with other customers at Eaton's ever-expanding Yonge Street store.
Records of the mail-order department, held at the Archives of Ontario, reveal the rise and fall of the mail-order industry in Canada.
The Eaton's catalogue was mailed into the hearts, the memory and even the literature of Canadians.
In Roch Carrier's "The Hockey Sweater", the despised Toronto Maple Leaf's sweater was ordered from the Eaton's catalogue.
In Lucy Maud Montgomery's "Anne's House of Dreams" Anne and Mrs. Rachel argued over the propriety of the Eaton's catalogue.
Catalogues were later printed in Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Moncton, and each catered to the special needs of its region.
In the west the catalogue was known as the Homesteader's Bible.
Catalogue pages were used as readers in many classrooms..... and eventually, the catalogue also found its way into many outhouses.
Francophone shoppers were first encouraged to write their orders in French in 1902; a French catalogue first appeared in 1928.
The last Eaton's catalogue was issued for Spring-Summer 1976.
The Archives of Ontario holds the most complete set of Eaton's catalogues, including Christmas catalogues and Specialty catalogues.