Eaton Centre

The fountain in this mall lies very close to the course that Taddle Creek took across Yonge Street. The Eaton Centre was built by Eaton’s in the 1970s to house the chain’s flagship store. To build the centre a long stretch of smaller stores on Yonge Street were destroyed, which has long been lamented by urban planners. Even worse, the original plan also required tearing down the Church of the Holy Trinity and the Old City Hall; however, parishioners and citizens raised a great deal of support which forced design changes to accommodate both.

In 1999, after the Eaton’s chain declared bankruptcy, Sears acquired the chain and closed some Eaton’s stores and converted others to Sears outlets. The Eaton Centre store was kept as one of seven that Sears used in an attempt to relaunch the chain. Unfortunately by 2002, this failed. In recent years, developers have redesigned the mall’s Yonge Street facade, bringing it closer to the street and making it more closely resemble an urban shopping district, with stores opening directly onto the street, and presenting a variety of facades to create the perception of an urban streetscape.

For information about Timothy Eaton, the founder of the T. Eaton Co. Ltd., see Timothy Eaton, his Home and History. He moved to Toronto to establish a store at 178 Yonge St. Here he introduced Canadians to cash sales and one fixed price. He advertised that “We propose to sell our goods for cash only” and “In selling goods, to have only one price.” Another innovation was “Money refunded if Goods are not satisfactory.” This small stoire grew into a mammoth chain. When he died in January of 1907, his son, John Craig Eaton, carried on and expanded the business.

Both Eatons were kind and generous men with a sense of responsibility towards their employees. They introduced better working conditions for their employees, introducing shorter hours, minimum wage, early closings, and Saturday half days. For more about John Craig Eaton, see Ardwold.