Life of Irishman Timothy Eaton from apprentice to one of Canada’s wealthiest people
There are two giant bronze statues of the retail magnate, who left Ballymena, Co Antrim at 19-years-old, in Toronto and Winnipeg
Timothy Eaton with his son and eventual successor John Craig Eaton in his office at Eaton’s department store, Toronto in 1899. Photograph: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Ballymena and its environs has been the birth place of some of our most notable emigrants; from George and Will Millar of the Irish Rovers to movie star Liam Neeson. However, it was a young mercantile apprentice who left in 1853 for a new life in Canada that would first bring fame to the small Ulster town.
Timothy Eaton arrived in Upper Canada at the age of 19 and would hold a series of minor jobs before attempting to strike out on his own, establishing his own business in partnership with his brother James. Their first attempt was modest; a small general goods store in the hamlet of Kirkton, Ontario. They enjoyed moderate success and soon were also running the local post office. The small business thrived for the first four years but as competition increased and the Canadian economy entered a depression Timothy decided to move to the larger settlement of St Mary’s and open a bakery, though he quickly transformed it into a general store.