Timothy Eaton, merchant, founder of Canada's largest privately owned department store, the T. EATON CO LTD
(b near Ballymena, Ire 1834; d at Toronto 31 Jan 1907). After apprenticing in a general store in Ireland, Eaton followed 2 older brothers to Canada 1854 and worked for a time at a store in Upper Canada. In 1856 with his brother James, he opened a small store in the Huron Tract at Kirkton, which they moved in 1860 to St Mary's, near Stratford. Convinced that change was in the air, Eaton in 1869 opened his own store at 178 Yonge St in Toronto, and introduced Canadians to the idea of cash sales and one fixed price, in contrast to the older credit, bargain and barter method. He displayed a sympathetic attitude towards his employees, having by the late 1880s instituted evening closing at 6 PM and the summer Saturday afternoon holiday. He also vastly improved their working environment by creating light, airy workplaces.
The introduction of the Eaton catalogue in 1884 gave Canadians, particularly those in pioneer farming communities, access to a variety of merchandise. At his death in 1907 at age 72, Eaton employed over 9000 people in his Toronto and Winnipeg stores, in factories in Toronto and Oshawa, and in offices in London, England, and Paris.
Timothy Eaton, businessman
Timothy Eaton, founder of the retail company that once employed 30 000 (courtesy Maclean's).
JOY L. SANTINK
J.W. Ferry, A History of the Department Store (1960); G.G. Nasmith, Timothy Eaton (1923); J.E. Middleton, The Municipality of Toronto I (1923).
Links to Other Sites
A profile of Timothy Eaton, Canada's preeminent department store magnate. From Library and Archives Canada.
Face to Face: The Canadian Personalities Hall
"Face to Face" features outstanding Canadians whose ideas and contributions have transformed this country. Click on the photos in "Meet the Personalities" to see their biographies. From the Canadian Museum of Civilization.