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TIMOTHY EATON AND THE RISE OF HIS DEPARTMENT STORE

Santink, Joy
Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1990. 319pp, cloth, $35.00, ISBN 0-8020- 2720-2. CIP


Grades 12 and up/Ages 17 and up

Reviewed by Jean Farquharson

Volume 18 Number 5
1990 September


This is not a biography but rather a history of the retail trade in Canada centered on Canada's most successful businessman of his time, Timothy Eaton, whose department store empire grew as Canada itself grew. His influence on Canada's culture is exemplified by the comment that many new Canadians spoke "Baton's catalogue" English.

Eaton began in a general store in a farm community, bartering his staple goods (or farm goods, offering long-term credit, and haggling over prices in order to sell his merchandise. His move to Toronto in 1869 put Eaton in a new situation. Entering the dry goods business, he chose to market to a new customer created by the Industrial Revolution the lower class industrial worker who was paid a weekly wage and could be enticed to buy mass-produced products he could never before afford. Eaton's formula for success was "Buy Cheaply, Pay Smartly, Cry Loudly, Sell Quickly, Cash Only."

Given privileged access to Eaton's archives to complete a doctoral degree, Joy Santink also researched extensively in directories, letters patent, acts and laws, deeds, marriage certificates, local histories, trade journals, personal notes and letters, and catalogues. The resulting book is scholarly but also readable and fascinating.

The book fills a gap in the history of Canada's retail trade industry and rounds out the social and general history of Canada.


Jean Farquharson, Paris, Ont.

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