Eaton’s House

The T. Eaton Co. Ltd.

The Eaton’s catalogue was the shopping mall for farm families in the early 1900s, the settlement period of the Canadian prairies. Coveralls for dad, a new dress for mom, and a special Christmas present for the kids, all came from Eaton’s in Winnipeg. The catalogue also supplied almost everything for the house, and, from 1910 to 1932, the house itself.

The house portion of Eaton’s merchandise was a Western Canadian phenomenon only. Houses were advertised only in the Winnipeg catalogue and in special plan books. The advertisements showed Douglas Fir trees, seven feet in diameter and 200 feet to the first limb. The lumber was without knots and came from trees that would not be cut today.

The mail-order house business worked like this: A few houses were listed in the catalogue as a teaser. The catalogue advertised free plan books that gave complete details about the houses: an artist’s sketch, floor plan, and information on lumber, doors, windows, flooring, and hardware. Few of the plan books exist today because they were distributed free of charge. 

Once the customer selected a house, the blueprints were purchased from the plan book for $2.50, although when competition appeared, the cost dropped to $1.00. When a house was ordered, the cost of the blueprints was subtracted from the invoice.

And order they did. Hundreds of Eaton homes dot the landscape in Western Canada, many serving the fourth or fifth generation of the same family, on the same quarter section of land. The lumber came by boxcar from British Columbia and the millwork came from Winnipeg. Freight was paid to the nearest railway station and the lumber was hauled to the farm by team and wagon.

Eaton’s sold at least 40 different house plans. While the large two-and-a-half-storey square house is most often referred to as an Eaton’s house, all shapes and sizes were available. The most common type was the one-and-a-half storey, sometimes referred to as the semi-bungalow. 

Very few single-storey houses remain, but the Art Dunlap house near Harris, Saskatchewan, shows how durable the houses were. The Dunlap house was built in 1916 and has been empty since 1956, but it still stands straight and proud.


We don’t typically feed the birds at our place because of the cats. I have also put out a hummingbird feeder in the front though as the cats don’t really hang out there and well, I highly doubt they’d catch one.

As a kid my first encounter with hummingbirds came when my grandparents bought their cottage at Lester Beach. My Grandfather hung a feeder outside the kitchen window and for the longest time everyone would gather around to watch them. In no time he added more feeders to keep up with them. I remember my Grandmother making syrup every Friday when we arrived.

In the past we’ve had some fancy feeders for the birds but I find that they are hard to clean and you have to do it often to get rid of that black mold that grows on the inside so this year I just bought a feeder from the dollar store. I typically chuck them out at the end of the summer. Anyways, we’ve had a lot of action at the feeder between the hummingbirds and the orioles.

This was earlier in the Spring as the birds started to arrive. This bird spent a lot of time resting in the tree between drinks. He also had to wait his turn as the oriole tried to find a way to drink out of the feeder as well. There was also the odd oriole fight over oranges.


Remember my Cricut? Well I’ve been making crafts and I attended my first craft sale the other day. My daughter organized my table, was an excellent seller and even took my custom orders.

Here is the video she made for tik tok.


Every year we have hummingbirds. One of the first years we were here we had orioles but they didn’t stay for long as I couldn’t find an oriole friendly feeder and I didn’t take the time to research what else they could eat. Somewhere I have a photo of the oriole hanging upside down off the feeder.

Well this year they are back! Lots of them. Instead of the grape jelly we went with oranges. Well they can eat one a day!

This photo was taken through our living room window.


I typically don’t go back to a house once I’ve had the chance to photograph it unless something has changed structurally.

I do go back and check on this one at least every year. I am so happy that I got to see if when I did when we were still able to enter it and I could get a better shot of the outside.

The mosquitos were awful outside so it was a quick visit.