As a result of the optimism of the 1920s, a number of mail-order operations committed to further expansions. However, as the Depression deepened across the country, many were forced to reduce the size of their catalogues, cease sales of some items, and limit or cancel expansion plans. Hundreds of mail order staff employees were laid off. The Depression also deepened the anger of local storeowners towards mail-order companies.

1930

Woodward's expands its mail-order business to serve customers throughout British Columbia, Yukon, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

1930

Simpson's opens a new store in Montreal and a new printing and catalogue building in Toronto.

1931

Eaton's stops selling houses and barns through the catalogue.

1933

Eaton's Winnipeg mail-order office handles 47 735 transactions a day, but average mail Read More
As a result of the optimism of the 1920s, a number of mail-order operations committed to further expansions. However, as the Depression deepened across the country, many were forced to reduce the size of their catalogues, cease sales of some items, and limit or cancel expansion plans. Hundreds of mail order staff employees were laid off. The Depression also deepened the anger of local storeowners towards mail-order companies.

1930

Woodward's expands its mail-order business to serve customers throughout British Columbia, Yukon, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

1930

Simpson's opens a new store in Montreal and a new printing and catalogue building in Toronto.

1931

Eaton's stops selling houses and barns through the catalogue.

1933

Eaton's Winnipeg mail-order office handles 47 735 transactions a day, but average mail orders drop from $1.93 in 1924 to $1.26 in 1933.

1934

Opposition to mail-order catalogues from retail merchants across Canada leads the government to establish the Royal Commission on Price Spreads and Mass Buying. The Army and Navy catalogue specifically states that merchants cannot purchase through the catalogues, suggesting that their prices are so low that stores would want to purchase from them.

Eaton's catalogue celebrates its 50th anniversary: "The EATON Catalogue is now a Canadian institution in the West, as in the East."

1935

Hockey greats King Clancy, Lorne Chabot, and Red Horner of the Toronto Maple Leafs begin endorsing equipment in the Eaton's catalogue. Across the country, interest in hockey is fostered through radio and mail-order catalogues.

1936

The firm of P. T. Legaré declares bankruptcy, less than ten years after the founder passes away.

The new mail-order building of Dupuis Frères in Saint-Henri, south of downtown Montréal, opens.

1939

Anticipating an upturn in consumer demand, Simpson's expands its mail-order plant capacity in Toronto, Halifax, and Regina. War intervenes and the renovations are not completed until its end.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Cover of Woodward's Spring/Summer Catalogue

Woodward's Spring/Summer Catalogue, 1936, cover.

Hudson's Bay Company Heritage Services, Toronto

© Hudson's Bay Company, used with permission


Colour cover of Robert Simpson Western Limited Fall/Winter Catalogue

Robert Simpson Western (Regina) Limited, Regina Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1930–31, cover.

Glenbow Museum Collection, Calgary.

© Hudson's Bay Company, used with permission


Black and white catalogue page of Eaton's Prarie mansion

Prairie mansion, illustrated in Eaton's Home Building Book with Plans of Modern Barns, 1929, p. 6.

Saskatchewan Western Development Museum. Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc.

© Saskatchewan Western Development Museum. Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc.


Colour cover of Army and Navy Fall/Winter Catalogue

Army and Navy Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1933–34, cover.

Toronto Public Library, Toronto Reference Library

© Used with permission of Army and Navy, Vancouver


Colour cover of Eaton's 50th Anniversary Catalogue

Eaton's (Winnipeg) 50th Anniversary Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1934–35, cover.

Saskatchewan Western Development Museum. Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc.

© Saskatchewan Western Development Museum. Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc.


Catalogue page of Red Horner endorsement from the Eaton's

Red Horner endorsement from the Eaton's Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1937–38, p. 337

Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc., Archives of Ontario, Series F-229, T. Eaton Co. fonds

© Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc., Archives of Ontario, Series F-229, T. Eaton Co. fonds


Colour page from P.T. Legaré Motors Catalogue

P. T. Legaré Motors Catalogue, n.d.

Ronald Chabot Collection, Lévis

© Ronald Chabot Collection, Lévis


Black and white image of Dupuis Frères' mail-order centre from a catalogue

Dupuis Frères Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1936–37.

Archives-HEC, Montréal, Fonds Dupuis

© Archives-HEC, Montréal, Fonds Dupuis Frères Limitée


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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