Friday, August 30, 2013

"Lunch With Lady Eaton"

While researching the department store tea rooms of yesteryear, I learned about some intriguing non-U.S. tea rooms, those associated with the Eaton's department store chain in Canada. Several Canadian tea friends have mentioned their memories of Eaton's over the years, so for that reason alone I was happy to pick up a copy of the wonderful book "Lunch With Lady Eaton: Inside the Dining Rooms of a Nation" by Carol Anderson and Katharine Mallinson (2004, ECW Press).

Here is a photo of the Grill Room of Toronto's Queen Street store in 1910. I've rarely seen a vintage photo of a tea room with people in it, and I love the ladies' hats in this one!

There's plenty to entertain a tea lover in this book, including "the world's largest china teapot," which was once used in an Eaton's promotion celebrating Commonwealth Week. The real star of this book, however, is Lady Flora Eaton herself. She was the daughter-in-law of the founder, Timothy Eaton, and married to his son John. When Sir John died of pneumonia at only age 46, Lady Eaton stepped forward to lead the company, of which she had been named a director in 1921. Lady Eaton took particular interest in the store's restaurants, and I greatly enjoyed reading of her focus on quality food in the various well-appointed tea rooms and other eateries. I was also amused to read that at one time, the Eaton's Hostess Shop "offered to cook gourmet meals for any number of guests, using a housewife's own kitchenware. This service included the recipe, in case guests complimented the hostess by asking for them." You have to wonder how many hostesses passed off Eaton's food as their own! Lovers of glassware and china will enjoy reading tidbits like this: "The dishes for the Round Room were Royal Worcester china, white with four black rings around the edge. Original Round Room stemware was Fostoria glass. The goblets had a square black bottom, continuing the glass motif of the fountain." There are photos of some of the china included in the book, so of course now I'm hoping to collect a piece of it myself one day. And naturally the book includes recipes, such as the once-secret recipe for Round Room Red Velvet Cake. If you're at all interested in tea room (or Eaton's) history, I definitely recommend you get a copy of this delightful book!


  1. Oh yay another christmas Wish List item! This sounds magical, and an era and age I wish had never passed.....the War To End All Wars changed it all.

    Thank you, my dear, this is a great recommendation!

    Have a fabulous holiday weekend. Hugs.

  2. Lady Flora must be been a really leader and high energy gal! I like her already!

  3. That does sound like a great read!

  4. Fascinating! It does take my mind to an earlier time with department stores.

  5. This book sounds wonderful! I would have enjoyed visiting these tearooms. Thanks for sharing, Joanie


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