Monday, December 21, 2015

Eatons and Christmas Past

Our town has a little and delightful museum, Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. The building was erected in 1872 and served as the town hall and lockup for a few years before becoming the Victoria School for 90 years until 1969. It became the Victoria School Museum in 1985 and assumed its present name in 2011, Beckwith being the name of the adjacent township to Carleton Place.

Presently there are two displays: the temporary Eatons Christmas Catalog display and the Forever Young display which will run until March. In this busy season, Sue and I found a little time to visit while the Eaton display was still on.

Eatons is now defunct but was the Canadian department store for about 100 years. It began as a dry goods store in Toronto in 1869 but by the end of that century was advertising itself as Canada's Greatest Store. With flagship stores in Toronto and Montreal, Eatons ruled the retail roost for a very long time. When I was a boy, it would have been unthinkable that the empire would ever crumble, but it did go into bankruptcy in 1999 after a pretty impressive run.

My uncle worked at Eatons for more than 25 years until he died as a relatively young man in 1971. In 1969 he had been presented with a beautiful quarter century watch, which I still have 46 years later. It still works perfectly when I choose to wear it.

Sue had two aunts who worked at Eatons, and her family, unlike mne, used the catalog service extensively.

Punkinhead ↑↑ was a major Christmas figure in the fifties and was featured prominently in Eatons Christmas parade. I still associate the Toronto and Montreal Christmas parades with Eatons.

From a fifties catalog ↓↓. Sue had a record player much like this one.

A vintage catalog ↑↑ and an early Santa/Father Christmas figure ↓↓.

Christmas items ↑↑ and clothes ↓↓

Most Canadian kids wanted skates for Christmas at least once, and many were lucky enough to ahve their wishes granted. ↑↑  Those days, girls seemed to always wear white figure skates (background). These days, almost everyone seems to wear hockey skates (foreground).

Imagine a box of 12 Norma Rockwell cards selling for $1. ↓↓

And that's a little look at Christmas Past from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum featuring the Eatons Catalog and other vintage items.


Country Gal said...

Lovely post . I remember Eaton's as my mum loved to shop there . The Eaton's also had a beautiful mansion in Belfountain/Caledon where I grew up near the credit river the mansion was set back from the road . My brother was friends with one of the boys as they were the same age . All the really good stores like that are gone now . Thanks for sharing . Have a good day ! Pouring rain here today will have a green and warm Christmas .

Marie Smith said...

The Eaton's catalogue was important to people in rural Canada, including Newfoundland. Also, there was an Eaton's store in Corner Brook which was a huge loss to the community when it closed, ot only for the loss of jobs. Great article.

Mara said...

I love those Christmas cards by Norman Rockwell.

I only ever skated on figure skates once and nearly broke my neck. We got the speed skating skates with the longer blades both front and back. Or the blades to tie under your ordinary shoes if you were learning!

Blogoratti said...

A very interesting post, and nice images. Greetings!

MARY G said...

cool display and tanks so much for sharing. I tend to miss adverts for what your museum is doing - I guess they are in the EMC but I maybe get the wrong insert.
I loved that little bear. But I never got Barbara Ann Scott signed skates, just ordinary ones. Sigh.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, I love the vintage items!

Lorna said...

You really know how to set the nostalgia part of the brain in overdrive!

ADRIAN said...

These are wonderful.

EG CameraGirl said...

AH, the memories!