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Fashion to Furnishings
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Catalogues (1880-1975)
Games and Activities

Secondary Resources (Grade 9-12)

Secondary teachers of all levels and subjects will find something of interest on this site. If you teach grades 10-12, be sure to check out the Webquest. Teachers of all grades should check out the Curriculum-Linked Activities and Introduction to the Catalogues.


Let's Go Shopping 1948!
Secondary Webquest


A Webquest is an inquiry-based student activity in which small groups of students take on roles and perform a given task by doing research on the Web. The Let's Go Shopping 1948! Secondary Webquest is a unique simulation activity that challenges students to place a catalogue order for one of five 1948 families; the families and their characters are based on real-life Canadians from five regions of Canada.

Curriculum-linked Activities

Select your subject or a classroom-ready activity to find curriculum-linked activities that make use of the on-line catalogue pages.

Activity Suggestions by Subject

Art, Applied Arts, Fine Arts
Ask students to compare the design of covers and catalogue pages in various years. Discuss the similarities and differences. Have students design a cover or page from a year of their choice.

Select several objects from a catalogue. Challenge your students to perform a skit that make use of these objects.

Assign different catalogues to the students. How does the language change over time? What words and phrases are used to sell the products in various years? Ask students to write catalogue text for an item that they own.
Find vocabulary that is no longer used or is unfamiliar. Ask students to define the words and use them in writing of their own.

English as a Second Language
Print out pages from a catalogue according to a specific theme (for example, clothing, appliances or tools), using the How to Print guidelines in Introduction to the Catalogues. Show the images and text to students. Cut up the pages, separating the text from the images, and ask students to match the correct text with the image.

The P.T. Legaré catalogue contains text in English and French for each object. Print out catalogue pages, and use this catalogue as a resource to help students learn French vocabulary. Use other French catalogues and current French catalogues that your students bring in for various activities that use both the images and text.

French Immersion
The French catalogue pages on this site can be used for many activities that require text and images. For example, print off pages from the 1975 Eaton Noël catalogue. Challenge your students to place an order from a page as if they were doing it over the telephone. Ask them to fill out an order form (forms are included in most of the catalogues).

Information Technology
Use this site to develop your students' skills in using the Internet to perform research.

Social Studies: Geography
Compare the items offered in catalogues from different regions. P. T. Legaré and Dupuis Frères served the Quebec market. The Eaton's Fall and Winter 1918-19 and the Army and Navy catalogues served the Western Canadian market, while the Eaton's Spring and Summer 1926 catalogue served Atlantic Canada.

Social Studies: History (Canadian, Business, Women's)
Use the historic catalogues to compare items such as clothing, technology, and furniture that were available in different years. Assign students the papers that relate to items in mail-order catalogues, such as phonographs, gramophones, and radios, writing instruments, houses, women's fashion, and bicycles.

Look at catalogues produced during the First and Second World Wars and the Depression. How are these events reflected in the catalogues? Look at the items offered and the images and wording that were used. The catalogues are useful primary resources for other historical themes such as the settlement of the West, changing women's roles and women's rights, urbanization, expanding consumer goods, technological development, and globalization.

Use the catalogues, papers, and timeline as resources for Canadian Business History. Assign students the papers related to the history of Eaton's, Simpson's, Paquet and Dupuis-Frères, labour in the mail-order industry, unionization, reaction from retail merchants, the role of the postal service, and the timeline of mail-order catalogues from 1870 to 2000.

Classroom-ready Activities

Click on a title to link to the activity.

Catalogues Yesterday and Today: Changing Goods, Changing Lives
Students compare items available in historical and current catalogues and discuss impacts of changes on people's lifestyles, health, and environment.

Catalogues and Consumerism Yesterday and Today
Students look at the growth of consumerism and materialism by comparing the design and content of historical and modern catalogues.

Prices Yesterday and Today
Students convert an order from an old catalogue into a present-day order. Using a price conversion table, they convert the prices into today's dollars and compare the prices. They conclude with a discussion about inflation and why prices change.

Shopping through Time
Students select ten modern items and try to place an order for them from the historical catalogues.

Getting the Goods Out
Students read a paper that describes the steps involved in filling a mail order in the 1920s and then dramatize the process of placing an order, sending in the order, filling the order, and delivering it.

Women in the Catalogues
Students read two papers about the portrayal of women in historical catalogues, research examples of how women are portrayed in the historical catalogues, and engage in a class discussion about how the presentation of women has changed.

Families Past and Present
Students research their own families in the past and compare their experiences to other families and to their lives today.

Furnish a Mail-order House
Students read a paper about mail-order houses, use an actual floor plan to build a model of a 1929 Eaton's house, and furnish the house with items printed out from one of the catalogues.

Catalogue Lingo Past and Present
Students write catalogue text in the style of a historical catalogue.

Make a Quiz
Students challenge their classmates to match catalogue descriptions to their images.

Create a Math Problem
Students create math problems based on flooring, fabric, shingles, and other items in the historical catalogues.

What Is It?
Students examine a photograph of an item from a historical catalogue. Using the on-line catalogues and indexes, they must find out about the item.

Sports Equipment
Students research the evolution of sports equipment in the historical catalogues.

Shop 'Til You Drop
Students are provided with a budget, a year, and a room of a house, and they must prepare an appropriate order.

Show and Tell
Students research a catalogue item by using sources such as the historical mail-order catalogues and papers on this site, other web sites, and family members, and then they make a presentation to the class.

An Immigrant's Shopping List
Students must furnish the house of a recent arrival to the Prairies in 1920. What do they buy?

Fashion: What's Hot, What's Not?
Students select a clothing item or accessory from the list provided and research it by consulting the catalogues. They present a collage and timeline of the item to the class.

Canada and the World in the Catalogues
Students identify countries of origin of items in historical and modern catalogues, create a map comparing the places of origin, and engage in a discussion about globalization.

Mail-order Mix-up (On-screen Game)
Match the items with the people who ordered them.

Fashion Craze (On-screen Game)
Find the correct colours and patterns for clothing from 1918 to 1967.

What Is It? (Activity Sheet)
Match unusual objects to their descriptions.

Don't Be Fooled by the Prices (Activity Sheet)
Using a price conversion table, calculate the prices of items in today's dollars.

Roch Carrier and The Hockey Sweater
Listen to Roch Carrier's classic story, The Hockey Sweater, hear an interview with the author, and see Maurice Richard's hockey sweater and other related images.

Mail-order Memories
Listen to memories of mail-order catalogues and see related images.


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