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Catalogue Shopping

Robert Simpson catalogue cover 1899

T. Eaton catalogue cover.

Mail order shopping from a catalogue for anything and everything people could want was a way of life for decades from the late 19th century all over Canada. Operated by department store chains that sold everything; including clothing, furniture, and appliances often with entire floors for each. Eventually they were in many cities and towns in downtown business districts and later frequently anchoring indoor shopping malls.

Toronto merchant Timothy Eaton opened a dry goods store in downtown in December 1869. His T. Eaton and Company started a mail order catalogue in 1884 that lasted until 1976. The company itself would carry on until it went bankrupt in August 1999.

Likewise fellow merchant Robert Simpson equally operated a country wide mail order business The Robert Simpson Company Limited. These catalogues were printed in Spring-Summer, Fall-Winter and even Christmas editions which grew to 500 pages by 1920's. Every household had one or both businesses catalogues. They were used in every city, town, village or rural farm and at one time even sold small houses and barns!

Decades before online shopping and Amazon existed people shopped from home and quickly received free delivery by rail freight and express with local truck to their door operated their own companion fleets.

Truly, as the old saying goes, "There is nothing new under the sun!"

Robert Simpson mail order catalogue 1914-15 cover.

Simpson's delivery wagon.

Eaton's and Simpsons trucks were so common they were ideal for toys such as these Athearn HO scale ones.

T. Eaton Co. advertisement Globe 1907

T.Eaton store in Montreal postcard.



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