Let's Go Shopping 1948! Elementary Webquest
Introduction | Task | Process
| Evaluation | Conclusion
For over one hundred years, mail-order catalogues have been used to
to Canadians. Before many people lived in cities and could easily travel
most people bought their clothing, toys, kitchen appliances, furniture,
homes from these catalogues. Your grandparents or great-grandparents may
be able to tell you about the fun they had dreaming about the things they
buy from the Eaton's catalogue, if only they had magic powers and
money in the world!
In this Webquest, you will have the chance to go shopping! You will
about a family that lived long ago, and you and your classmates will
you will buy from the latest Eaton's catalogue: the Eaton's
and Winter 1948-49 catalogue. You will have to balance your wishes
your needs, and, as a family, decide what you can afford to buy.
When you are finished each day's tasks, or when you have
entire Webquest, try out other fun things to
It is September 1948. You live with your family in or near a small
Canada. Your family just received the Eaton's Fall and Winter
the only major catalogue you will receive before Christmas. Each member of
family would like to order a few items from this catalogue. However, you
a limited amount of money and must stay within your budget. Your task is
about your family and your own character, think of what you would want to
as a member of that family, discuss as a group what you really need and
and then fill out an order form with your family's final choices.
then return to the 21st century, make a collage of the items you ordered,
make a presentation about your family and its order to the rest of your
With the help of your teacher, divide into groups of 4 or 5 students.
will be your 1948 families.
- As a group, ask your teacher to help you select a family:
Each group should select a different family.
- Read about your family. Fill in Worksheet
as a group.
- On a map of Canada, locate the town where
Fill in Worksheet #2 as a group.
Before you complete the final Worksheet question, get together as a
Ensure a large map of Canada is posted or projected onto a screen. As a
make a presentation to your class about your family and where you live,
on Worksheets #1 and #2. Place a pin or sticky paper at the location of
family's home. Place another pin at the location of the nearest
warehouse. Together as a class, determine how each family's
goods would arrive at their homes. Trace the routes taken by each
goods on the map of Canada; use a different coloured marker or string for
Hint: Goods were shipped by train from the Eaton's warehouse to
closest post office or mail-order outlet. People had to travel by foot,
and buggy, horse and sleigh, or car to the post office or outlet to pick
- Return to working in your family groups. Decide which family member
of you will be: father, mother, or child 1, 2, or 3. Each student must
a different character.
- Now find out about your character. Working on your own, go to the
to your Family section, and then to your character. Fill in Worksheet
#3 on your own.
- As a group, meet with your family members. Each family member presents
name, age, place of birth, role in family, occupation and interests,
and amount, and what they want to buy. Then go back to working on your
- Look through the Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue.
the links that are provided for your family member. You may then search
for other pages of the catalogue. Make notes of all the items you
to buy. Fill in Worksheet #4 on your own.
- Narrow down your list to the items you would most like to buy. Think
you really want each of these items. Fill in Worksheet
#5 on your own.
- Optional: If you have access to a printer, print out the catalogue
each item from your Needs List.
- Fill out an order form. Be sure
include the item name and page number, size, colour and other specific
needed, and cost. Calculate the total cost of your order. How much will it
- Meet with the rest of your family. Go over each person's order.
up the total cost of all orders. Are you within budget? If not, as a
which items can be deleted. You must come up with a list that fits within
budget. When you have a list that each family member is satisfied with and
your family can afford, fill out another order
- If you printed out your items in Step 9, assemble one collage of all
each person ordered, and a second collage of all the items you
- Plan your presentation. You will need to make an individual
and a group presentation about yourself and your order. Assemble your
Wish List and Needs List. Think of how you will use your collages and
form to make your presentation. You may wish to display your two collages
final order form on the wall of the classroom.
- Make your presentation.
- Individually, make a presentation to class members about:
- your family member (name, age, occupation, interests, and income);
- what was on your Wish List and your Needs List.
- As a family, make a presentation of:
- what you finally ordered; and
- an explanation of how you proceeded from your wants to your needs.
- As a class, compare the orders of the different families.
- How were they similar?
- How were they different?
- What are some explanations for the differences?
- Finally, discuss what was challenging about this task.
Here is the grading rubric.
In 1948, mail-order catalogues were an important part of the lives and
of most Canadians. With the help of an efficient postal system and the
mail-order catalogues provided the means of selling a wide variety of
toys, furniture, and other items to rural Canadian families. These
must have inspired a lot of dreaming, bringing the images of clothing and
items from across Canada and all around the world into people's
After completing this Webquest, we hope that you have a better
of the clothes and other items that were available to Canadians in
in 1948 and of some families who lived back then. We also hope you have
how challenging it can be to balance a family's wishes with their
and the money they have available. Finally, we hope you have learned how
can use these catalogues to learn about life in the past.