Wednesday, January 18, 2012

52 Trade Houses Part 42: Towers Discount Department Stores of Canada

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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!

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Trade House Tackle, Part 42:

Towers Discount Department Stores of Canada

We return north of the border for this week's 52 for 52 entry--Towers Department Stores of Canada, a chain of discount stores. Towers sold a line of fishing tackle, as did most Canadian stores of this kind.

Founded in 1960, within a couple of years there were 12 Towers discount plazas measuring 100,000 square feet or more. After a hugely splashy start, the firm ran into trouble in 1963 and went into receivership. It emerged as Allied Towers Merchants in 1964. In 1965 it was taken over by Oshawa Wholesale Ltd.

Under Oshawa's control the firm flourished, opening more stores until by the early 1970s there were 26 Towers Discount Department Stores in Canada. It is considered one of the "Big 10" Canadian Department stores, alongside The (Hudson's) Bay, Eaton's, Gem, K-Mart, Miracle Mart, Riteway, Simpson's, Simpson's-Sears, and Woolco. All of these companies sold fishing tackle, by the way.

The store carried a full line of fishing tackle, and branded some of it with their own name. Below is a neat line spool manufactured by Shakespeare Co. for the Towers chain and sold under the "Towers Titan" line.

The spool likely dates from the early 1960s -- perhaps as early as 1963 or so.

Towers sold a lot of fishing tackle, and even had one long-time employee who was a world class fly angler. Towers' own Brenda MacSporran was a world champion fly caster and was featured in the Tower newsletter.

A hugely, amazingly detailed web site on all aspects of Towers history can be found by clicking here.

-- Dr. Todd

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