Monday, February 17, 2014

A Different Kind of “Family Bible”

Eaton's Catalogue, 1916
Do you want to buy a piano and some sheet music to play on it? Have you run out of Campbell’s soups, smelling salts, or Lydia Pinkham’s potent patent women’s tonics? Need a new kitchen range? Wallpaper? Canoe? How about an elegant horse-drawn sleigh? Will you choose a $10 or $100 diamond ring for your sweetheart? You could order just about anything anyone would want or need from the Eaton’s catalogue. In 1912, you could even purchase a pre-fab house for $890!

Eaton's Catalogue, 1914
First published in 1884, the Eaton’s catalogue grew in size and popularity to became a Canadian household staple for over 90 years – often referred to as the “Family Bible”. Kids on isolated farms or in city homes leafed through them eagerly to find skates, bicycles, train sets, hockey sticks, or doll carriages to add to their Christmas wish lists. Women discovered the latest fashions for themselves and their homes. Men could deliberate over cameras and rifles, pocket watches and fishing lures.

Cottagers often put in substantial catalogue orders before heading to the lakes for the summer. By the 1930s, there was a special “Eaton’s Camp and Cottage Book”, and goods were delivered right to your dock – including motorboats and pre-fab cottages!

The Eatons themselves were avid cottagers, as mentioned in a previous blog.

Cottages and all their contents have been sold or passed down through generations. I wonder how many still have furnishings provided by Eaton’s?

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