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Last Eaton's catalogue order

T. Eaton Company was formed shortly after Canadian Confederation and soon became rooted in the country's cultural landscape. The department store was part of Canadian life. The Eaton's mail-order catalogue was called the "Family Bible" and the company's lavish Santa Claus parade launched the Christmas season. When the last Eaton's store closed its doors on Feb. 26, 2002 many Canadians mourned its death. It wasn't the business empire they would miss, but the loss of a national institution.

By 1976 Eaton's ties to Canadian life are weakening. Canadians are shocked when the company discontinues its mail-order catalogue. For 92 years the Eaton's catalogue had been the cornerstone of the department store empire and held a valued place in the hearts of Canadians. Author W.O. Mitchell, a national icon in his own right, speaks on CBC Radio about the catalogue's place in his prairie childhood, "It was a window on the rest of the world."

Six years after the catalogue closes, Canadians face another stunning announcement. In 1982, Eaton's announces the cancellation of its annual Santa Claus parade. For many people, the spectacular parade marks the start of the holiday season. Eaton's says the parade, which cost about $250,000 annually, is the casualty of recessionary times. But to many people, it's one more indication that Eaton's is abandoning the Canadian public.
.In 1974 the Eaton's catalogue lost $17 million. The decline in the catalogue's fortunes was blamed on Canada's shift from a rural to an urban society in the mid-1900s. By 1974, 60 per cent of Canadians lived within a 30 minute drive of an Eaton's store.
.Nine thousand people lost their jobs with the cancellation of the Eaton's catalogue. The 1976 spring/summer catalogue was the company's last.
Medium: Radio
Program: Cross Country Checkup
Broadcast Date: Jan. 18, 1976
Guest(s): W.O. Mitchell
Duration: 6:22

Last updated: March 16, 2012

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

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