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Western Development Museum, Saskatchewan
by Ruth Bitner

The Western Development Museum in Saskatoon has about 350 Eaton's catalogues, including a large collection donated by Eaton's of specialty catalogues of houses, radios, groceries, and plumbing supplies ( The Museum also has a number of artifacts that have been identified as having been sold through mail-order catalogues.

Bladon Toy Collection

The Bladon family were among the 103 798 immigrants who came to Canada from the United States in 1910. Encouraged by a neighbour who had bought CPR land about ten miles [15 km] northeast of Lang, Saskatchewan, the Bladons loaded two railway carloads of belongings from their Illinois home and headed northwest.

Dick, Rilla, and their six children arrived in Saskatchewan in March 1910. A seventh child was born later that year. The family farmed for decades, experiencing the joys and hardships of bumper crops and droughts as they made their living from the land. Five of the Bladon children never married and lived in the family home for their whole lives.

The Bladons were savers and rarely disposed of things they no longer used. For the Saskatchewan Western Development Museum, their home was a treasure trove of early 20th-century toys and games, farm machinery trade literature, and household effects. The toys shown here were all near and dear to the five brothers and two sisters who grew up on the Saskatchewan Prairies.

  Tin clockwork-driven hen and chick, 
Eaton's Fall Winter 1916-17, p. 394.  

Enlarge image.This brightly coloured tin clockwork-driven hen-and-chick toy was made by the Hans Eberl company in Nuremberg, Germany, and sold through the Eaton's (Winnipeg) Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1916-17, p. 394.


  Climbing monkey, Eaton's Fall Winter 
1916-17, p. 394.  

Enlarge image.A clockwork mechanism animates this monkey as it climbs a string. This toy was carefully saved in its original box and packing material. It sold for 35 cents in the Eaton's (Winnipeg) Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1916-17, p. 394.



  American Flyer train set, Eaton's 
Fall Winter 1917-18, p. 469.  

Enlarge image.This American Flyer train set with key-wound clockwork motor was saved in its original box. It cost $1.25 from the Eaton's (Winnipeg) Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1916-17, p. 469.

  Easy Sewing Cards for Tiny Tots, 
Eaton's Fall Winter 1919-20, p. 435.  

Enlarge image.This set of Easy Sewing Cards for Tiny Tots made by Milton Bradley contains eight cards, perforated in different designs, four skeins of coloured thread, and two needles. It sold for 45 cents in the Eaton's (Winnipeg) Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1919-20, p. 435.

  Dolly Household Set, Eaton's Fall 
Winter 1919-20, p. 437.  

Enlarge image.This Dolly Household Set consists of a miniature washtub, washboard, clothes wringer, iron, ironing board, table, chopping bowl, potato masher, rolling pin, six clothespins, cup and saucer, and pot. All were made from "wood, smoothly finished." The set sold for $1 through the Eaton's (Winnipeg) Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1919-20, p. 437.

  Tin tea set, Eaton's Fall Winter 
1915-16, p. 278.  

Enlarge image.Little girls must have had fun playing "tea party" with this lithographed tin tea set. It was sold for 50 cents in the Eaton's (Winnipeg) Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1915-16, p. 278.

  Ark, Eaton's Fall Winter 1918-19, 
p. 522.  

Enlarge image.Seventy-five cents bought this 18-inch [46-cm] ark with "animals stamped on wood with bases for standing up" from the Eaton's (Winnipeg) Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1918-19, p. 522.

  Farm, Eaton's Fall Winter 1914-15, 
p. 349.  

Enlarge image.Two little farm boys, Harold and Virgil Bladon of Saskatchewan, wrote their names on the toy wooden barn of their Red Robin Farm. Imagine them playing "farmer" with their wooden barn and animals. This set is very similar to one pictured in Eaton's (Winnipeg) Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1914-15, p. 349.

  Cover of Charlie Chaplin book, 
Eaton's Fall Winter 1919-20, p. 449.  

Enlarge image.Eaton's sold a number of Charlie Chaplin books. Chaplin was described in the catalogue as "the moving picture comedian." This book containing 16 pages of "funny capers" was published in 1917. It sold for 15 cents in the Eaton's (Winnipeg) Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1919-20, p. 449.

  Bringing up Father, Eaton's Fall 
Winter 1919-20, p. 448.  

Enlarge image.Bringing Up Father's comic characters Maggie and Jiggs were household names for decades. Artist George McManus published several books of comics in the late teens and early 1920s. Eaton's (Winnipeg) sold this 46-page book for 25 cents in the Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1919-20, p. 448.

  Imperial Incubator  

Enlarge image.Thousands of people across the Prairies relied on Eaton's catalogue to supply everything from clothing to farm equipment. Eaton's sold the "Imperial" incubator in three sizes. The smallest, the 150-egg model, sold for $19.75 in the Eaton's (Winnipeg) Spring/Summer Catalogue, 1938, p. 276.

  Airmaster Windmill  

Enlarge image.In 1950, a farmer from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, bought this windmill to pump water on his farm. However, due to poor water quality it was used very little. The windmill found a new home on the farmyard at the North Battleford branch of the Saskatchewan Western Development Museum. It was featured in the Eaton's (Winnipeg) Fall/Winter Catalogue, 1950-51, p. 606.


   Vega Cream Separator   

During the hard times of the 1930s, the Carlson brothers of Strongfield, Saskatchewan, earned money by snaring rabbits during the Christmas holidays. They walked six or seven miles [9 to 10 km] a day setting and checking their traps. The brothers managed to snare and skin 200 rabbits. For their efforts, they earned 10 cents a skin. But, misfortune struck just as they planned to spend their hard-earned $20. The cream separator broke down and their parents did not have the money to replace it. With the boys' $20 and $2 from their father, they bought this cream separator from the Eaton's (Winnipeg) Spring/Summer Catalogue, 1937, p. 3. "You can tell the people who lived through the thirties. They're the ones who can't throw anything away," remarked James, one of the Carlson brothers, many years later.

Enlarge image.

Comox Archives and Museum Society

   Eaton Beauty doll   

This Eaton Beauty doll, given to Shirley McLouglin of Comox, BC, in 1938, is the only remaining doll of two pairs given to her mother and aunt at Christmas in the 1910s. One of the original pair was destroyed by fire so they were given a second pair the following year. The second fell off the bed in 1936 shattering its head and the third was sold in the l980s.

Enlarge image.

Canadian Postal Museum - Canadian Museum of Civilization

   Piano Lamp   

This brass "piano lamp" was purchased through the Eaton's catalogue around 1900 by Margaret and Kristjan Hjalmarson. The Hjalmarsons came to Canada from Iceland and settled in southern Saskatchewan where Kristjan worked in a grain elevator. The lamp, originally advertized as a "brass table [with] fancy lower shelf [and] patent extension rod with automatic fastener," was once used with an oil lamp and glass globe or chimney before being modified to electricity and gaining a fabric shade.

Enlarge image.

Okanagan Falls Museum

   Okanagan Falls Museum   

This 1909 home was built by the Bassett family, who had a stage coach and freight hauling business in the South Okanagan at the turn of the century. The lumber and other building materials were shipped from Eastern Canada by rail to the end of the line at Okanagan Landing, north of Vernon, and were transported the rest of the way by paddle-wheeler and dray. The Okanagan Heritage and Museum Society has operated the Okanagan Falls Museum out of the Bassett House since 1986.

Enlarge image.

The Muskoka Steamship & Historical Society

   The Muskoka Steamship & Historical 

Built in 1915, the Wanda III was commissioned for Mrs. Timothy Eaton. Outfitted with an engine of the same design as those built for the Canadian Navy minesweepers during World War I, Wanda III cruised the Muskoka lakes at a speed of 24 miles per hour [39 km per hour], a speed unparallelled at the time.

Enlarge image.

Chabot Collection
by Marguerite Sauriol

Ronald Chabot of Lévis, Québec, has been an avid collector for over 35 years. When he noticed a truckload of antiques heading for the United States, he decided to accumulate all kinds of things and keep them in Quebec. He is particularly interested in catalogues because a catalogue is "a document … a witness of an era … a chronological record, in a way, that reflects society. Catalogues do not lie." The catalogues he finds most fascinating are usually those from the 1910s and 1920s. After all these years of collecting, Chabot notes, "You begin to have some practical experience … you begin to recognize the objects, to know lots of things," and that is what becomes interesting.

Below is a small selection of objects from his collection:

  T. Eaton Company Hatbox  

Enlarge image.This T. Eaton hatbox was sent to Causapscal in the Gaspé region in Quebec. The shipping label and original stamps are still visible.


  Henry Morgan Company Hatbox  

Enlarge image.With its familiar round shape, this Henry Morgan hatbox dates from ca 1910.

  Dupuis Frères Hatbox  

Enlarge image.The slogan of Dupuis Frères, "Le magasin du peuple," (The People's Store) is proudly displayed on the front of this hatbox; the string looks pretty old.



  Metal Box for Brass Pins  

Enlarge image.Metal box for brass pins from Henry Morgan, Colonial House, Montreal.

  Gift Box  

Enlarge image.This gift box from Henry Morgan Company says "Merry Christmas."

  Paquet Hatbox  

Enlarge image.Paquet was a big player on the Québec department store scene until the early 1980s.


Family Heirlooms
Property of André Besner

  Dupuis Frères Shipping Label  

Enlarge image.This label was found under a dining room table. During the 1920s or '30s, the table and chairs were sent to a resident of Dalhousie Station, Soulanges County, Quebec, and have been in the family since. The name of Alphonse Besner can be made out on the label.

  Dining Room Set  

Enlarge image.This dining room set was sent from the Dupuis Frères' catalogue operation to a family residing in Dalhousie Station, Soulanges County, Quebec.


[ Culture Division, City of Toronto ]


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