During the First World War, department store employees enlisted in large numbers. Rivals such as Eaton's and Simpson's collaborated to support the war effort. Many goods previously imported from Europe were no longer available. During and after the war, many companies initiated expansion programs.

1914

Simpson's builds an 11-storey mail-order warehouse in Toronto.

1915

Scroggie's sells its operations to Almy's Limited, a company representing American interests from New York and Massachusetts. Almy's keeps the business going, with a mail-order division occupying most of the sixth floor, until 1922 when it ceases activity.

Eaton's and Simpson's expand in the East and West. Eaton's establishes a distribution centre in Saskatoon. Simpson's builds an eight-storey warehouse in Regina in 1916. Eaton's establishes a second Saskatchewan warehouse for heavy goods in Regina in 1917. In 1919, Simpson's builds a five-storey mail-order facility in Halifax.
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During the First World War, department store employees enlisted in large numbers. Rivals such as Eaton's and Simpson's collaborated to support the war effort. Many goods previously imported from Europe were no longer available. During and after the war, many companies initiated expansion programs.

1914

Simpson's builds an 11-storey mail-order warehouse in Toronto.

1915

Scroggie's sells its operations to Almy's Limited, a company representing American interests from New York and Massachusetts. Almy's keeps the business going, with a mail-order division occupying most of the sixth floor, until 1922 when it ceases activity.

Eaton's and Simpson's expand in the East and West. Eaton's establishes a distribution centre in Saskatoon. Simpson's builds an eight-storey warehouse in Regina in 1916. Eaton's establishes a second Saskatchewan warehouse for heavy goods in Regina in 1917. In 1919, Simpson's builds a five-storey mail-order facility in Halifax.

1919

In response to the Canadian government's Soldier Settlement Scheme, Eaton's produces a booklet for soldiers planning to farm in the West, containing "the full requirements of a soldier."

1920

Eaton's opens a regional mail-order headquarters in Moncton. Eaton's mail-order business peaks at $60 million. Simpson's catalogue business is worth $13.1 million.

1922

Intending to cash in on the burgeoning French Canadian market in town and country Dupuis Frères, a Montréal department store established in 1868, issues a French catalogue. Dupuis Frères uses religious and nationalistic themes to sell its merchandise.

1923

Simpson's receives permission from the Post Office to distribute catalogues to all post office boxes on rural routes. Rural Mail Delivery, first introduced in 1908, is responsible for the advent of rural home delivery to mailboxes located up and down country roads and key to accessing a good part of the rural market. The country can now be blanketed with catalogues.

1925

Army and Navy, a Vancouver-based department store chain, opens a mail-order business headquartered in Regina.

1928

Eaton's introduces a fully automated mail-order processing facility in Montréal, but shuts it down just three years later.

1929

The first priority of Simpson's new owners and president Charles Luther Burton's is to overhaul the mail-order department.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Black and white Stationary head for Simpson's Regina and Toronto facilities

Simpson's Regina and Toronto facilities as depicted on company stationery

Hudson's Bay Company Heritage Services, Toronto

© Hudson's Bay Company, used with permission


Colour cover of Simpson's 1929-30 Fall/Winter Catalogue

Robert Simpson Western (Regina) Limited, Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1929–30, cover

Glenbow Museum Collection, Calgary.

©Hudson's Bay Company, used with permission


Black and white ad for Returned Soldiers' Farm Buildings and Equipment booklet

Ad for Returned Soldiers' Farm Buildings and Equipment booklet from Eaton's, Winnipeg, Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1919–20, p. 420.

Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc., Provincial Museum of Alberta

© Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc., Provincial Museum of Alberta


Colour photo of a peice of Souvenir Eaton's first birthday cake in original box

Souvenir birthday cake in original box, February 5, 1921, "The First Birthday of Our Moncton Mail-order Branch with the Compliments of the T. Eaton Co. Ltd."

City of Toronto, Culture Division, T. Eaton Company Collection

© City of Toronto, Culture Division, T. Eaton Company Collection


Colour cover of Dupuis Frères 1926 Fall/Winter Catalogue

Dupuis Frères Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1926, cover.

Metro Toronto Reference Library

© Metro Toronto Reference Library


Colour advertisment for Men's Clothing from Army and Navy

Army and Navy, Regina, Catalogue, 1928.

Used with permission of Army and Navy, Vancouver, Canadian Postal Museum

© Used with permission of Army and Navy, Vancouver, Canadian Postal Museum


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • observe and identify the characteristics of early 20th century lifestyle;
  • compare the evolution of the Canadian and Quebec society over several decades;
  • explain the similarities and differences between past and present society;
  • discuss the main events of the 20th century (economic crisis, World Wars, unionization, feminist movement) and the impact that they had on Canadian and Quebec societies.

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