Timothy Eaton (1834 - January 31, 1907) was a Canadian businessman who founded Eaton's department store, one of the most important retail businesses in Canada's history.
He was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, of a Protestant Scottish ancestry. As a 20-year-old Irish apprentice shopkeeper, Timothy Eaton sailed from Ireland to settle with other family members in southern Ontario, Canada.
The Eaton Family mausoleum in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
In 1861, with the help of his brothers Robert and James, Timothy Eaton set up a bakery business in the town of Kirkton, Ontario which went under after only a few months. Undaunted, he opened a dry goods store and from that success he would move to the city of Toronto where in 1869 he created the unheard of concept of one-stop shopping at a "department store," a phenomena that soon spread to New York, Chicago, London, and Paris.
In 1884, Timothy Eaton introduced Canada to the wonders of the mail-order catalogue, reaching the thousands of small towns and rural communities with an array of products previously unattainable. In these tiny communities, the arrival of Eatonís catalog was a major event. More than clothing, furniture, or the latest in kitchen gadgetry, the catalog offered milking machines, and just about every other contraption or latest invention desirable. And, when rendered obsolete by the new seasonís catalog, it served another important use in the outdoor privy of most every rural home.
Timothy Eaton spawned a colossal retail empire that his offspring would expand coast to coast, reaching its high point during World War II, when the T.Eaton Company of Canada employed more than 30,000 people.
Timothy Eaton died on January 31, 1907 and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada