A segment from the cover of 'Eaton's: The Trans Canada Store' by Bruce Allen Kopytek

A segment from the cover of 'Eaton's: The Trans Canada Store' by Bruce Allen Kopytek
Photo Credit: courtesy of Bruce Kopytek

‘Eaton’s: The Trans-Canada Store’ an ode to a bygone Canadian institution

Eaton’s:The Trans-Canada Store, is a book that will bring back warm memories to many Canadians.  Eaton’s, the department store many of us grew up with, came to a sad decline and almost sudden finish at the end of the 20th century.

“Canada, in a way, doesn’t seem like Canada without Eatons’s”

It’s where I bought the first shirt for my uniform in high school; where I got the silver candelabra for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary, and most importantly, where we went to see Santa Claus every year as children, to convey our heartfelt desires for Christmas.  One year I asked him to take my warts away. It worked!

Bruce Kopytek is an architect who’s become a writer to share his passions, and this one started in his own childhood. He grew up just across the river, on the other side of the Canadian border, in Detroit, in the United States. On his family’s many trips to Canada, Bruce became familiar with Eaton’s.

With an architect’s regard he could appreciate the style and grace of Toronto and Montreal’s magnificent stores, exquisite examples of original art-deco architecture.

And with the gift of a storyteller, he knew the tale of Timothy Eaton’s arrival in Canada in the 19th century, and the innovations he put into building the company that grew for generations, made for a compelling story.

Business innovator and social reformer

Timothy Eaton left Northern Ireland in 1854 to seek opportunities in the colony. Before Canada was created in 1867, Timothy Eaton had started out in what was almost wilderness in south-western Ontario. Eventually he made major contributions to life in Canada with business modifications, such as money-back-guarantees, ridiculed at the time, and much appreciated social developments, such as reduced working hours, that won him talented and loyal employees.

Kopytek’s book will be a great read for those who want to remember the store that was at the centre of so many Canadian communities, as well as the people who worked for the company, many of whom still get together in enthusiastic reunions.

Eaton’s was at the heart of Canadian history for so long, and it’s amazing evolution is well-chronicled in Kopytek’s work.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Economy, Society

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