In the postwar period, the number and variety of goods available expanded rapidly, as did the ability of Canadians to purchase them. The electrification of rural Canada increased the market for electric appliances. The baby boom increased Canada's population and led to the identification of children and teenagers as specific markets in the 1950s and '60s. By the late 1990s, e-commerce allows people to shop from companies next door and around the world.

1947

Woodward's of Vancouver celebrates the 50th anniversary of its catalogue, which is widely circulated throughout Western Canada.

1952

The CTCC, a Catholic French-Canadian union representing store and mail-order workers at Dupuis Frères, goes on strike. The conflict, which lasts three months, damages the public image of the company among its French-speaking clientele.

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In the postwar period, the number and variety of goods available expanded rapidly, as did the ability of Canadians to purchase them. The electrification of rural Canada increased the market for electric appliances. The baby boom increased Canada's population and led to the identification of children and teenagers as specific markets in the 1950s and '60s. By the late 1990s, e-commerce allows people to shop from companies next door and around the world.

1947

Woodward's of Vancouver celebrates the 50th anniversary of its catalogue, which is widely circulated throughout Western Canada.

1952

The CTCC, a Catholic French-Canadian union representing store and mail-order workers at Dupuis Frères, goes on strike. The conflict, which lasts three months, damages the public image of the company among its French-speaking clientele.

1953

Simpson's merges with the American Sears and the first Simpsons-Sears catalogue is issued. Like Eaton's, Sears had traditionally sold a lower class of goods than Simpson's. Eaton's restructures due to strong competition from Simpsons-Sears. Woodward's catalogue closes and its assets are purchased by the Hudson's Bay Company.

1955

In addition to its 14 department stores, 42 branch stores, and six foreign buying offices, Eaton's has four mail-order warehouses, four factories, and 299 order offices.

1956

Dupuis Frères circulates one million catalogues throughout French Canada but mainly in the province of Quebec. Jackets sporting the image of hockey star Maurice Richard are for sale in the catalogue.

1963

The Dupuis Frères catalogue closes. The company loses $70 000 on its catalogue operation in 1962 and lays employees off that October. The department store declares bankruptcy 15 years later.

1965

Eaton's has 336 catalogue outlets, and redesigns and reduces the size of the catalogue; the catalogue is now profitable only in Western and Atlantic Canada.

1972

On the 100th anniversary of the Simpson's department store, the Simpsons-Sears operation has 41 stores, four large catalogue centres, and 553 catalogue selling offices in Canada.

1973

Eaton's catalogue loses $17 million dollars and the idea of closing down the operation is raised for the first time.

1976

Eaton's catalogue closes.

1977

The mail-order operation of Simpsons-Sears is bought out by Sears and becomes Sears Canada.

1999

Eaton's declares bankruptcy. Sears Canada acquires the name but in 2002 announces the closing of the last seven stores to carry the Eaton name. Sears publishes 24 different catalogues and handles 22 million orders.

2003

Mail order continues to thrive, particularly due to the success of speciality catalogues such as seeds, tools, and lingerie. However, with the introduction of e-commerce, many stores now have online shopping capability instead of, or in addition to, mail order. As with mail order, shoppers can dream about possible selections, purchase goods from distant places in the comfort of their homes, and await their arrival with anticipation.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Colour cover of Eaton's Fall/Winter Catalogue

Eaton's Fall/Winter Catalogue (French), 1953–54, cover.

Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc., Archives of Ontario, T. Eaton Co. fonds

AO5568
© Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc., Archives of Ontario, T. Eaton Co. fonds


Colour cover of Eaton's Fall/Winter Catalogue

Eaton's Fall/Winter Catalogue (French edition), 1967, cover.

Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc., Library and Archives Canada

© Used with permission of Sears Canada Inc., Library and Archives Canada


Colour cover of Simpsons-Sears Spring/Summer Catalogue

Simpsons-Sears Spring and Summer 1971 Catalogue, 1971, cover, from Simpsons-Sears: The First Twenty-five Years.

Used with permisson of Sears Canada Inc., University of Toronto Libraries

© Used with permisson of Sears Canada Inc., University of Toronto Libraries


Colour cover of Sears 50th anniversary Catalogue

Cover of Sears 2003 Catalogue noting the 50th anniversary of the merger between Simpson's and Sears mail-order operations.

Sears Canada Inc.

© Sears Canada Inc.


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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