Over the course of the next year, we'll be detailing the history of 52 companies that sold branded fishing tackle. 52 trade houses in 52 weeks -- some obscure, some famous, and all available exclusively here on the Fishing for History Blog! If you have any items from the week's entry you'd like to share with us, please send it my way and I'll make sure it makes it on the blog.
For a discussion of what exactly trade tackle is, Click Here. Enjoy the 52 for 52!
Today we get another Canadian company that sold a ton of fishing tackle over the years, but often gets overlooked as a trade house.
The Canadian Tire Corporation, Inc. is a massive company (they employ nearly 60,000 people today) with hundreds of branch operations all across the Great White North.
It was founded on September 15, 1922 by a pair of brothers--William and Alfred Biles--in Toronto, Canada and capitalized with $1800. It originally specialized in auto parts, like so many other North American rivals ranging from Western Auto to Oklahoma Tire & Auto Stores. it was incorporated in 1927, the same year it issued a one-page listing featuring auto parts prices on one side and a map of Ontario on the other. They would become renowned over the years for their innovative advertising. Soon after, in 1928, the company--like most firms of this kind--issued its first catalog and entered the mail order business.
The Depression did not seem to hurt the firm badly, as by 1934, the brothers opened up their first associate store in Hamilton. They would eventually grow to over 450 stores. Interestingly, Canadian Tire tried to enter the U.S. market in the 1980s with the purchase of the White Auto Store chain based in Texas. They shuttered the failed operation within a decade.
As Canada's largest retail chain, it's been said that 85% of Canadians live within 15-minutes of a Canadian Tire store, and that 90% of the country shops at least once a year at one of their outlets. The firm continues to expand today, including sporting goods, which the company has always carried. They purchased the Forzani Sporting Goods retail chain in 2011. As early as 1991 sales at Canadian Tire had surpassed the $3 billion mark, including profits of $127 million.
The company probably sold more fishing tackle in Canada than any other outlet. Their major trade name was "Mermaid," which was branded on a ton of fishing tackle beginning -- as far as I can tell -- right after World War II. The Mermaid symbol (a striking female figure) has changed somewhat over the years, giving collectors a variety of different images to collect.
Mermaid was branded by Canadian Tire on a host of items, from carded spinners to minnow buckets to snelled hook packets to line spools. All of the Canadian Tire tackle is collectable if for no other reason than the pleasing graphics.
For such a huge retailer that sold so much tackle, you really don't read much about Canadian Tire branded fishing tackle. I hope that will change. While I've never seen a branded rod or reel from the company, I've no doubt that they sold both at some point during their history. Hopefully, someone will shoot me an email with some pictures of more Mermaid Brand tackle. It's a neat bit of Canadian tackle history.
Patrick from the great Canadian lure site (linked to the right) sends in this photo of three great Canadian Tire Corp. lures! AWESOME SAUCE! Thanks Patrick!
-- Dr. Todd