Canadian Mail Order Catalogs and Advertisements with Boys Clothing

Figure 1.--These outfits for boys 3-6 years of age appeared in a French Canadian fashion magazine at the turn of the 20th century. They look quite similar to the clothes American boys were wearing at the time. One report suggests that this was in a 1906 newspaper.

We have only limited information on Canadoan catalogs and advertisements at this time. Canadian readers have prvided some information to get us started here. What we have suggests some similarity with American fashions, but we notice some differences. One of the subjects we want to consider is to what extent English and French fashions affected the two different language communities.


Canadian mail order catalogs and advertisements offer a great deal of information on specific clothing styles and garments worn over time. We are at this early stage of developing oyr catalog archive focusing primarily on the chronological pages. We will eventually list these pages in both sections. We have some catalog pages without dates which we will initially archive here. A reader asks if there is any difference between French and English-speaking Canadians in the popularity of long stockings. One way to try to assess this is comparing English and French-language ads.


Canadian mail order catalogs and newspaper advertisements offer a very useful time line on changing fashion trends. I am not sure precisely when mail order catalogs first appeared in Canada. I believe that they were initially an American inovation. Western Canada in particular must have been influed by Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Ward in the United States. HBC has begun collect mail order pages. Advertisements appeared in the newspapers before the first mail order catalogs appeared.

Canadian Mail Order Catalogs

The Virtual Museum of Canada has prepared a fascinating website on Canadian mailorder catalogs. It describes catalogs in general and not just clothing catalogs. Emmanuel Béland writes, "Catalogue designers employ various promotional advertising strategies that allow consumers to identify with accessible models. Their objective is quite simple, that is, to achieve customer loyalty; reaching the customer is not enough. Through the use of commercial imagery that follows specific patterns and procedures, catalogues stimulate interaction between consumers and companies.

Canadian Catalog Searches

Here you can search Canadian catalogs. The entire Library and Archives Canada collection of catlogs can be searched here or you can narrow your search to a specific catalog.

Bibliotheque Nationale du Quebec

The Bibliotheque Nationale du Quebec has archived images from several magazines illustrating children's fashions. I assume they are Quebec magazines, but I don't see where that is explained. The images pertain to boys clothing around the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Inflation Calculator

HBC has attempted to include price data in our catalog section so that readers can assess the actual cost of clothing in different eras. Professor S. Morgan Friedman has prepared an very useful inflation calculator to help make such calculations. The Canadian Inflation Calculator uses monthly consumer price index (CPI) data from 1914 to the present to show changes in the cost of a fixed "basket" of consumer purchases. These include food, shelter, furniture, clothing, transportation, and recreation. An increase in this cost is called inflation. The calculator's results are based on the most recent month for which the CPI data are available. This will normally be about two months prior to the current month.


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Created: October 8, 2001
Last updated: 7:41 PM 7/30/2007