A Mile of Make-Believe: A History of the Eaton's Santa Claus Parade
A Mile of Make Believe examines the unique history of the Santa Claus parade in Canada. This volume focuses on the Eaton’s sponsored parades that occurred in Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg as well as the shorter-lived parades in Calgary and Edmonton. There is also a discussion of small town alternatives, organized by civic groups, service clubs, and chambers of commerce.
By focusing on the pioneering effort of the Eaton’s department store Steve Penfold argues that the parade ultimately represented a paradoxical form of cultural power: it allowed Eaton’s to press its image onto public life while also reflecting the decline of the once powerful retailer. Penfold’s analysis reveals the "corporate fantastic" – a visual and narrative mix of meticulous organization and whimsical style– and its influence on parade traditions. Steve Penfold’s considerable analytical skills have produced a work that is simultaneously a cultural history, history of business and commentary on consumerism. Professional historians and the general public alike would be remiss if this wasn’t on their holiday wish list.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 256 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.0in
‘This book should find its way down our chimneys as an excellent example of going beneath the surface to uncover the deeper structure of our collective past.’
Canadian Historical Review vol 98:02:2017
Steve Penfold has "crafted a smart and funny account of a lost piece of Canadiana."
Blacklocks Reporter, November 5, 2016
"[Steve Penfold] situates [the Santa Claus Parade] within North American parade culture and its use of public space, a growing twentieth-century consumer culture and the increasing centrality of Santa Claus in its Christmas narrative as well as the rise of the department store that dominated the retail landscape."
Ross Fair, Ryerson University
University of Toronto Quarterly, vol 87 3, Summer 2018
"A Mile Of Make Believe recounts with warmth and nostalgia the Christmas extravaganza sponsored by a family-owned corporation once the largest retailer in the country. This is not a dry municipal history; Eaton’s in its heyday sponsored Santa parades from Edmonton to Montréal. Author Steve Penfold, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, has crafted a smart and funny account of a lost piece of Canadiana."
Blacklock’s Reporter, September 15, 2018
"If you're on the hunt for nostalgia, don't be misled by the title. While there are magical memories galore in Steve Penfold's A Mile of Make Believe, there is also so much more. This is the story of the Eaton's Santa Claus Parade as a literally moving metaphor of -- among other things -- a country, a city, a company and an epic pop cultural museum on wheels."
Geoff Pevere, author of Gods of the Hammer: 'The Teenage Head Story' and co-author of Mondo Canuck: 'A Canadian Pop Culture Odyssey'
"A Mile of Make Believe offers not only a highly readable and rewarding account of Santa Claus parades but a great many lessons that will help reshape the way in which scholars explore the history of consumerism. If Eaton’s was this effective at presentation and organization it would still be with us today."
Michael Dawson, Department of History, St. Thomas University
"This volume is classic Penfold. Through superb scholarship and lively writing A Mile of Make Believe is an entry point for understanding a host of the central elements of modernity."
Keith Walden, Department of History, Trent University
Steve Penfold is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Donut: A Canadian History (UTP 2008).
Table of contents
Introduction Alfreda’s Lament
Chapter One The Corporate Fantastic
Chapter Two Santa in Public
Chapter Three The Mediated Santa
Chapter Four The Civic Fantastic
Chapter Five Casualty of the Times
Conclusion The Most Fabulous Dreams of Childhood\
Subjects and Courses