Timothy Eaton

There’s no better time than the internationally celebrated St. Patrick’s Day for highlighting the history of Irish Canadians. So let’s take this opportunity to learn about Timothy Eaton, the famous founder of the Eaton’s retail chain. Born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Timothy Eaton settled in Canada with his family around 1854. You can find out more about him in various Library and Archives Canada (LAC) resources—here’s how.

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online contains an interesting biography of Timothy Eaton, with a number of genealogical details such as the dates of his birth, marriage and death, and the names of his parents.

Unfortunately, since few lists of arrivals prior to 1865 have survived, Timothy Eaton’s name cannot be traced on any passenger lists.

LAC’s various databases—particularly the census databases—are excellent sources of information. For instance, the 1871 census lists Timothy Eaton as a merchant living in Toronto West with his wife Margaret and their three children, Edward, Josina and Margaret.

LAC also has a large collection of city and county directories that generally contain an alphabetical list of adult residents, along with their occupation and address, as well as businesses, churches, schools, social organizations, municipal services, and so on. A search of the City of Toronto directories for 1907 shows that Timothy Eaton, President of Eaton Co. Limited, lived at 182 Lowther Avenue, and that his store, the T. Eaton Co. Limited, was located at 190-214 Yonge Street.

A number of Eaton’s catalogues have been digitized and are available online. For more information on this topic, please read our blog post, “Time Travel” Research Tools: Discover Canadian Mail Order Catalogues.

The blog post Did Your Ancestors Come From Ireland (Eire)? can also help you in your search for your Irish ancestors. And don’t forget to listen to The Shamrock and the Fleur-de-Lys, our podcast about the mass immigration of Irish settlers to Quebec in the 1800s.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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