The Story of the Family Behind the Family

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Over its 130-year history, Eaton’s became part of the social fabric of Canada and played a major role in the lives of many Canadians. If its customers were saddened by its demise, some of its employees – in many cases men and women who had spent their entire working lives at the store – were devastated. In this book, Patricia Phenix sets out to tell the story of the Loyal Eatonians – “the family behind the Family” – who helped make the store what it was, and often continue to gather today across the country.

In this lively look at a Canadian institution and its proud employees, Phenix describes the lives of staff members through the years, from Timothy Eaton’s day on. She writes about the yearly Santa Claus parades, the importance of the Eaton’s catalogue in Canada, and the role Eaton’s staff members played in the First and Second world wars. She describes the glamour of the Eaton’s restaurants, the cultural influence of the Eaton Auditorium, and the fun of Eaton’s-sponsored fashion shows and celebrity appearances. She talks about the Eaton’s buyers, travelling the world in search of new merchandise, and she deals with the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to unionize the store. Finally she looks at the slow decline of the Eaton’s stores in the face of growing suburban malls and increased customer mobility.

By turns fascinating, hilarious, and poignant, full of the voices and personalities of Eaton’s employees, and illustrated throughout with pictures of Eatonians at work and play, this book is sure to bring back memories for former employees or for anyone who grew up with Timothy Eaton’s store.

From the Hardcover edition.