January 16, 2014

Eaton’s: Purple images of future past

The Torontoist documents the fabled past and not-so-happy end of Canada’s once-premiere department store.

Eatons TO


As in Vancouver, Eaton’s was part of a major urban redevelopment in Toronto in the 1970s, anchoring a complex of office buildings and mall, on the major downtown street.  It wasn’t enough: Eaton’s ended in 1999, to be succeeded by Sears and now Nordstrom’s.

When Sears tried to rebrand the ‘eatons’ name in 2000 as an upscale chain with the theme of ‘Aubergine,’ it commissioned one of the most extraordinary commercials in Canada’s TV history – now of course available online.  This extended version is worth viewing just to play ‘guess the references’ in film history – and to savour the melange of images, dated somewhere in the early 1950s, that capture a sense of urban sophistication, from deco to early modernist:


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  1. Maybe if Sears had stuck with eatons they wouldn’t be disappearing themsleves. Yet another example of a corporation being too shortsighted, Now another high end retailer is moving into those spaces and Sears is vanishing from Canada’s retail scene.

    Great commerical, channeling a lot of the Hudsucker Proxy.