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1872 - 1991

Evening dress suit (detail), purchased at Robert Simpson & Company Ltd., 1938. Gift of John L. Russell, M993.14.3.1-2 © McCord Museum

Founded by Robert Simpson (1834–1897) in 1872 in Toronto to compete with the Eaton Company, the Robert Simpson Company operated a chain of Canadian department stores for over 100 years. While the company focussed primarily on retail sales, it also ran a mail-order catalogue business to offer its products across the entire country.

In 1905, the company entered the Quebec market by purchasing the John Murphy store on St. Catherine Street in Montreal. This store retained its name until 1929 when it was renamed Simpsons. That same year, the front section of the building was rebuilt; in 1949, a seventh floor was added. The back section of the store was remodelled in 1953.

Also in 1953, Simpsons and American company Sears, Roebuck & Company created a new Canadian company called Simpsons-Sears.

This new partnership focussed on the mail-order business and established retail stores across the country modelled on American Sears, Roebuck & Company stores.

However, these establishments had to be located outside the big cities where Simpsons had its own stores so as not to compete directly with them. Sears Canada took over from Simpsons-Sears in 1978.

In 1978, the Hudson’s Bay Company acquired the Simpsons chain. The downtown Montreal store underwent a costly renovation in 1982 and 1983. In the late 1980s, the remaining Simpsons stores converted into Bay stores. The Montreal store finally closed in 1989. The last Simpsons store closed in 1991.


Anderson, Carol J. « Simpson » Musée canadien de l’histoire, Gouvernement du Canada, 2018. External link

« Robert Simpson Company » Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), 2018. External link

« Simpson, Robert » Dictionnaire biographique du Canada, vol. 12, Université Laval/University of Toronto, 2003, 2018. External link

Thivierge, Sylvie. «Commerce et architecture», Continuité, no 42, Winter 1989, p. 29.

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Madeleine Goubau, Contributor

Last edited on
01/02/2019 Suggest an edit