Memories of Eaton’s

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One of my top ten childhood memories is the late great Eaton’s Department store in Montreal, Quebec. It didn’t matter what province you lived in–everyone made a trip to some Eaton’s, no matter where they lived- or they got the Eaton’s catalogue. Every few months my Grandmother and I would make the one hour bus trip to the city for wig maintenance. A local hairdresser had burned off a lot of Grammy’s hair with a bad perm when she was still in her twenties. As she aged, her hair thinned out badly and became nonexistent, so she needed ‘Eva Gabor’ to help her out. After an hour of me giggling in the Eaton’s wig dept. we would finally go off to lunch in their cafeteria.

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I would sit in hungry anticipation, with my feet dangling off one of their red stools at the lunch counter. The waitresses all seemed to be painfully thin, and looked the worse for wear. Some of them tapped their pencil on the order book impatiently, while you looked through their vast menu to order. The menu was never a challenge for me, as I ordered the same thing. It was always the traditional turkey dinner, with one scoop of potatoes, dressing, and gravy. Of course the mandatory canned green beans were always lying lifeless next to the runny cranberry sauce.

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Sometimes the waitress would whisper to us that it really wasn’t turkey. She admitted that when they ran out, they subbed chicken, but frankly, I could never tell the difference. Then for dessert we would always order layer cake. Eaton’s was THE place where we bought our winter coats every few years. We would ooh and ahh over the expensive ones on the second floor but would finally make our purchase in the basement where there were bargains. After all- there is nothing like a bargain and there was nothing like Eaton’s!

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Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac and 5 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada.

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

8 responses »

  1. I grew up in Montreal in the 50’s and 60’s and remember all the downtown department stores with great affection. My friends and I used to go shopping on St. Catherine’s a lot but we never ate at Eaton’s. Instead, it was usually the lunch counter at Kresge’s or Woolworth’s. The one time I can remember eating in the dining room at Eaton’s, I was served something called Jersey milk which seemed richer tasting than ordinary milk. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Did you ever visit Belmont Park? That holds real nostalgia for me.

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    • Cathy I saw the Flying Willendas at Belmont Park. I grew up 45 min outside Montreal in Cowansville so know a lot about Montreal.. I too ate at Woolworths and Kresge.. Those glass covered layer cakes..:)

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      • Linda, I used to visit Belmont Park once a year with my sisters. We lived in Ville St. Laurent which is beside Cartierville the home of the park. We always took the bus there and I think it was the highlight of the summer for me. Yes, the cakes. My father loved the dark chocolate cake that they made and we bought it occasionally for birthdays. Another thing that my friends and I did which seems so unusual today was to take a 6-foot tobaggan on the city bus in winter and go tobogganing at Beaver Lake on Mount Royal. Whenever I read about over-protective parents today, I think about all the excursions we took around Montreal without any adults. Has the world changed that dramatically or is it our perception of it.

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  2. I so loved Eaton’s “Toyland” at Christmas! The Toyville train and all the wonderful Christmas decorations. Santa and the Punkinhead bear! The store windows were a childs delight with moving mannequins and scenery! We lived 25 miles from the city in Otterburn Park. Vaguely remember Belmont Park, was only there once as a kid.

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