Eaton's Catalogue Houses

© 2008, Christian Cassidy

The Timothy Eaton Company is legendary for selling everything an urban dweller or rural settler needed to outfit their home - including the house itself !

Eatons sold houses, (and barns, and churches, and schools), from their catalogue in the early 1900s to meet the needs of families settling Western Canada. It was also an easy way for a developer or railway company to instantly create a town site. Instead of years of planning, development and construction, one could pop out of the soil within a matter of weeks with the help of a small team of labourers.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization has a section on their website dedicated to the 'mail order home'. 

One interesting passage I found there was:  "...after the First World War,  Eaton’s Catalogue offered a complete farm – everything but the horses – to returning veterans taking up land offered in the prairie provinces. No assembly instructions for these houses, barns, and milk-sheds or pig pens has yet been dug up."The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation has an undated copy of the "Eaton Plan Book of Ideal Homes" at their website if you'd like to check out the many different styles that were on offer. It also goes into detail about where they are milled and what other items, from bathtubs to furnaces, that you could order along with them.

It is impossible to tell how many Eatons homes and other buildings were built and how many are left standing.  This is further complicated by the fact that there were a number of companies that sold prefabricated houses in the early part of the last century, some of which are mistaken for Eatons homes, (see below). 

What got me interested in this subject was what some THOUGHT was an Eatons house in Rivers, Manitoba that was being renovated in 2008 -2009.

It turns out that this is a bank building from the catalogue of B.C. Mills Timber and Trading Company.
Like Eaton's, you could order an array of buildings from their catalogue and the package would be shipped from their mill in British Columbia to the rail station nearest you.

You can read more about the Rivers home and B. C. Mills' prefabricated buildings here and here.

UPDATE: There is a book and video series called Catalogue Houses: Eaton's and Others. You can read more by the author here and see the videos here.



Ancestral Roofs said...

I love your blog! I came upon it while searching for info on Eaton's houses. We first saw one on a tour of the Big Muddy in south Saskatchewan, and I have been fascinated since then. I'm researching an article for our local arts paper, on Eaton's catalogues, and thought I would try to find some Eaton's houses in our city, Belleville Ontario, or the surrounding countryside. There are definitely house plans that resemble those that you show...wish me luck!

Christian Cassidy said...

Thanks very much ! I wrote that post so long ago that it needed some major updating, including the fact that I have been in an Eaton's house in Rivers MB ! Good luck on your search !

BCMT&TCo said...


Thank you for this post but more importantly thank you for the flickr photos! At first I was outraged to see it clad in vinyl but then I realized that someone was hard at work preserving it. Far too many of these have vanished from the Canadian landscape.

Unfortunately this it not an Eaton’s structure. It was manufactured in New Westminster, British Columbia by the British Columbia Mills Timber and Trading Co. for the Canadian Bank of Commerce. It was first opened in 1908 and similar structures where constructed that year in Saskatchewan at Delisle, Elbow, Melville, Outlook, Tugaske and Watrous; and in Monarch Alberta.

One of your flickr photos shows the patented wall joint which proves that it is a BCMT&TCo structure.

Please see my BC Mills photo collection at

Is there any chance you could hook me up with the owner?

Anonymous said...

there is an Eaton's house in the Columbia Valley in B.C. It is reported the owner spent $10,000 to build it, having it shipped from Winnipeg to Golden BC and then down the Columbia River by steamboat close to Radium Hot Springs. Apparently the design was called Gingerbread.

Anonymous said...

We recently moved to Olds, AB and were told that our house is an Eaton's catalogue house that was moved to the town cite from a farm just south of here. Is it the same house you mentioned? I am so curious! I would love to know the history of this house. It's beautiful!

Anonymous said...

There are two Eaton Houses in Nesbitt MB built by the McKellar Family in 1912 and 1913. The first was built on a farm site adjacent to the town. The other is on the very south west corner of town when you drive in from HWY #2. Both are still occupied.

Unknown said...

I live in an Eaton house, built by the Coulthard family, near Abernethy in Saskatchewan.

barbara said...

I think that I live in an Eaton's Catalogue House and I have been trying to find out for sure. How can I send you an image, so that you may take a look at it? I live in Rosthern, SK. Thank you, barbara

barbara said...

I am selling my Eaton Catalogue Home in Rosthern, SK. It is in great condition and deserves a buyer who will cherish it as I do and keep it well. Does anyone here know of any person who would be interested in buying my jewel? Please let me know:
It would also be great to find other sources where I could post my Eaton House. I heard there had been a special on TV about Eaton Homes these past weeks. Has anyone seen it? Which TV station was it on? Thanks a bunch!!

stone house said...

just look at a great eaton catologue house in southern Alberta needs to be moved wish i won the lottery i would take it.

Linda Thompson said...

My friends in Raymond, Alberta moved an Eaton house from Lethbridge to Raymond in 2005. There is also another, smaller Eaton house in Raymond. It is situated on a large lot waiting to be restored by the historical society.

Anonymous said...

I believe there might be one of these in downtown trochu Alberta