23 Timothy Eaton

Timothy Eaton was born in Portglenone, Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, in 1834; He received his education at the National school and he spent one year at the Academy in Ballymena; It is believed that while at the Academy, young timothy experimented with smoking; He became violently ill and never smoked again and later in life he refused to sell tobacco in his store.Timothy left school at 14 and started to work for Mr. William Smith, his mother’s cousin. Mr. Smith owned a store in Portglenone and sold a variety of goods. Mrs. Eaton paid Mr. Smith a one hundred-pound surety bond that Timothy would stay with him for five years. Smith treated young Eaton very shabbily, almost brutally, but his young second cousin later said he had learned much from his rather difficult position.Timothy Eaton reached Canadian shores in 1854 and stayed in Ottawa for about 2 years. He then moved to Georgetown where his sister Margaret (Mrs. Robert Reed) lived. Timothy got a job as a clerk and bookkeeper in a store in Glen William, just north of Georgetown. A short while later he, together with his brother James and his sister Sarah, moved to Kirkton, near London, Ontario and opened his first store in Canada. In 1862 Timothy married Margaret Beattie form Woodstock, Ontario.Shades of his Ulster experience seemed to be very evident, especially so in Timothy’s hatred of haggling and bartering and arguing. This became a growing problem in London, so, together with his wife, he purchased the premises of a Mr. Jennings on Queen Street, Toronto for $6,500.00, which included all fixtures and stock. The date was December 9, 1869.In 1884 Timothy decided to take his business out into the country by means of a printed catalogue, which first appeared in 1884. This catalogue was invaluable as a means of advertising, but it also had a secondary use teaching English as a Second language to immigrants. The pictures and the printing together helped them learn English.Timothy was at the center of the organization of the first Santa Clause parade in Toronto in 1905 and this event has been continued to this day.

Timothy Eaton died at his Toronto home on January 31, 1907, at the age of 73. He had three sons, one of whom, John, became the President of Eaton’s Department Store.

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