History of the Eaton Centre
The Eaton department store chain was founded in 1869 by Timothy Eaton. The Toronto Eaton Centre is the location where in 1883, Timothy Eaton moved his prospering haberdashery and dry-goods shop from its smaller location on Yonge Street. The spacious three-story shop boasted massive glass windows, attractive displays and the first electric lights in any retail shop in Canada. Timothy Eaton’s business grew to become the largest department store chain in Canada and was considered for decades to be the dominant retailer in the country.
A combination of several factors led to the closing down of several Eaton’s stores and the ultimate demise of the chain at the end of the 20 th century. Growing competition from big-box American retailers such as Wal-Mart which expanded into Canada in the 1990s and unsuccessful management by later generations of the Eaton family are just some of the reasons the business, a fixture in Canadian retail for over a century, went defunct in 1999.
The Toronto Eaton Centre retains the Eaton name, however Sears Canada, which acquired the Eaton chain after its bankruptcy, is now located where Eaton’s used to be. The shopping complex which stands today was constructed in the 1970s and opened in two stages in 1977 and 1979.