CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers - Eaton's: A Canadian Icon

History, Social Studies, Business Studies
1 lesson
To explore the institutions that contributed to the Canadian economy during its first 100 years
In this introductory activity, students will learn about Canadian retailing giant Eaton’s, and how its founder, Timothy Eaton, changed the way Canadians shopped.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students to brainstorm the last few purchases they made and the stores at which they made them. Write the responses on the board or chart paper. Ask: What would life have been like for people your age at the time of Confederation? What kinds of purchases would they have made? Where?

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to the topic Eaton's: A Canadian Institution on the CBC Digital Archives website. Have them thoroughly explore the clip 'Homesteaders Bible.'  Students should also browse the Additional Clips to learn about the products and services that Timothy Eaton provided to his customer base when the first store opened in the late 1860s.

Have students write a point-form summary of what they discovered about how people shopped at that time, the products and services offered by Timothy Eaton, and the new ideas he brought to Canadian retailing.

Revisit and Reflect

As a class, compile a master list of details about Canadian retailing in the late 1800s. Discuss the changes in the Canadian retail market since the time of the first Eaton's store. Ask: What developments influenced the changes in retailing? Identify mass production, the car, the internet, and so on.


Students can keep a diary of their routine for one day. Students will then review their routine to see which of the products or services they used were available in 1869. They should then write to explain how their daily routine would have been affected if they had only been able to use those products and services.

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