Stoking Up the Barbie

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  • Baseline CPI 1962 – 15.9
  • Today’s CPI (June 2016) – 129.1 (up 0.3 from May)
  • 1962 prices in today’s dollar – 1962 price X 8.12

You might guess from the title that I am in Australia right now. Barbecues are very popular here, no doubt due to being able to barbecue year round. It’s such a big thing out here that every park in the greater Perth area seems to have public barbecues available for use. We’ve had family dinners at the local park using the public barbecue to cook up the grub.

Public barbecue at Sorrento Beach near Perth, Australia
Public barbecue at Sorrento Beach near Perth, Australia. All major parks seem to have one or more of them.

The barbecues are run on propane and have flat cooking surfaces. Users are expected to clean up after themselves.

But I digress. Back in 1962, Eaton’s had a limited number of barbecues in their Summer Sale Catalogue. They were pretty basic compared to some of the barbecues available today.

Some barbecues from 1962.
Some barbecues from 1962.

At $18.77 for a basic unit and $24.88 for one with a warming oven, these would cost you $152.41 and $202.03 respectively. You could get them with stainless steel hoods as well. The deluxe model with warming oven in stainless steel went for $39.99 or $324.72 in today’s dollar.

The barbecue has made considerable progress since then. For one, you can get much larger models. Ours has a large cooking surface as well as a stove top on the side for cooking vegetables or whatever. And they aren’t limited to charcoal fuel.

Sears Canada and The Bay both carry barbecues, though you can also get them at Home Depot Canada, Canadian Tire and other outlets. Sears has 38 propane gas grills, 18 natural gas grills, 4 electric grills and 4 charcoal grills.  The charcoal grills run from a basic Kettleman model at $229.99 to a deluxe Broil King model for $999.97.

This Char-Broil brand 3 burner grill with a side burner is much like the one we own though ours is a different brand and in stainless steel and cost a bit more.

Propane grills run from $219.99 for a portable model to $2699.97 for a top of the line model with six burners and an oven. Crikey! That’s more than most regular stoves! But they do have a model much like the one we own for $224.95 (seasonal clearance price). Less than the deluxe model of 1962 and you get so much more.

The Bay has barbecues running from $279.99 to $2749.99.

A Weber grill much like the one our daughter and her fiancé have.
A Weber grill much like the one our daughter and her fiancé have.

But the place for bargain prices is Home Depot. There you can find barbecues as low as $39.99 for a 14 inch table top charcoal barbecue. One much like the Eaton’s model of 1962 can be had for $109.00 for an 18 inch surface and $149.00 for a 22.5 inch surface. Both are from Weber, considered by many to be the best brand in barbecues today. Our daughter’s fiancé has one and uses it all the time. He swears by charcoal and is not keen on propane barbecues.

Propane barbecues at Home Depot run from $48.98 to $3199.00.

hibachiOther items from 1962 include the basic hibachi at $7.88 or $63.99 in today’s dollar. Don’t know if they sell them any more, although I had one about thirty or forty years ago. I couldn’t find one for sale anywhere.

We certainly have come a long way with barbecues. The simple models of 1962 are still more or less available, but today there is so much more variety to what you can find.

The items in today’s post can be found on pages 166 and 167 of the 1962 Eaton’s Summer Sale Catalogue.

Now excuse me while I go and throw some shrimp on the barbie, mate!


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Stoves Circa 1962

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  • Baseline CPI 1962 – 15.9
  • Today’s CPI (May 2016) – 128.8 (up 0.5 from April)
  • 1962 prices in today’s dollar – 1962 price X 8.10

Back in 1962, modern ranges were in basic white. The elements were usually coiled steel burners. And they ranged from $139.95 for a compact 21 inch model to $294.95 for a top of the line 30 inch model. That’s $1133.60 for the small range up to $2389.10 in today’s dollar.

This premium Viking Range went for $184.95 in 1962. That’s $1498.10 in today’s dollar.

You could also get a mini-range with just two burners for just $69.95 or $566.60 today.


Today we can get kitchen ranges with glass tops. We can get them with stainless steel or black finishing as well as the customary white. And we can get them with self-cleaning ovens. And if you want to get real fancy, you can get induction heating elements. We had one at our last place and it was amazing.

Prices vary. You can get them at department stores like Sears or The Bay, but you can also pick them up at big box specialty stores. Sears has 234 different styles of stoves ranging from $547.91 for a Frigidaire brand basic model in white or black to $8159.99 for a Kitchen Aid brand 36 inch deluxe model with six burners running on both natural gas and electricity. The Bay has them ranging from $539.99 for a 30 inch Amana range to $9599.99 for a Kitchen Aid model. It’s exactly the same model that Sears has for $1440 less so it pays to shop around as prices vary greatly.

And of course, today we have microwave ovens as well. Although the microwave oven was invented in 1946, it wasn’t commercially available until 1955. But those were large cumbersome models and the modern countertop microwave did not come out until 1967, introduced by Amana Corporation.

Now while there are one and a third pages of electric ranges in the 1962 Spring and Summer Eaton’s Catalogue, there were in fact, two full pages of wood burning stoves. Yes! Wood burning stoves!

The wood burning stove in our featured image at the top of the page is top of the line at $271.50 or $2199.15 in today’s dollar.  It’s from Acme. The one below from Huron is $151.50 with a warming closet. That’s $1227.15 today. Both could burn coal as well.


My wife’s grandmother lived on a farm in rural Alberta until her 90s when she moved to a care home. She used a wood burning stove from McClary until the day she left the farm.

grandma and stove
Grandma Jeanie with her McClary wood burning stove. The picture was taken in 1983 when she was 86 and she passed away in 1993 at the age of 96.

Some wood burning stoves in the Eaton’s catalogue were convertible to oil burning. And if you had a summer kitchen or an annex, you could get a small wood stove to heat it. At $67.95 and $89.95, they would set you back $550.40 and $728.60 today.


Or you could get the old box type wood stove. We had one in our basement when we lived in Montreal. You can still get these type of box stoves today as an auxiliary heating source.

These two box-style wood stoves sold for $24.75 and $44.50 respectively. That’s $200.48 and $360.45 in today’s dollar.

Times certainly have changed in the last 54 years!

The full catalogue pages for the products featured here are pages 419, 420, and 421. With my next commentary I’ll be switching to the Summer Sale Catalogue, returning to the Spring and Summer catalogue some time next year.

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Washers and Dryers

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  • Baseline CPI 1962 – 15.9
  • Today’s CPI (April 2016) – 128.3 (May CPI not yet available)
  • 1962 prices in today’s dollar – 1962 price X 8.07

Today large appliances are often sold through specialty stores that sell nothing but appliances. But you can still get most appliances at your local department store as well as at some big box stores.

Back in 1962, Eaton’s was known as Canada’s Department Store. It had a presence coast to coast, not just with its stores in large cities, but also through its catalogues. Eaton’s was a pioneer in mail order to rural communities. And it sold just about everything – yes – even the kitchen sink!

I remember in 1962 we had a fairly modern washer and dryer, possibly purchased at Eaton’s. We lived in a suburb of Montreal at the time.  Our machines looked something like the ones below.


The deluxe washer and dryer on the left, at $289.95 and $184.95 respectively, would cost $2339.90 and $1492.55 in today’s dollar. Cheaper models were also listed at $219.95 for the washer and $164.95 for the dryer. That’s $1774.99 and $1331.15 respectively. All were Viking Brand – Eaton’s in-house brand.

Today washers at the Bay go for $849.99 for a Maytag model (currently on sale for $699.99) to $2049.99 for a high end Bosch. Sears has them starting at $449.99 for a Kenmore (Sears’ House Brand) to $2319.99 for a large LG model. But that one is a combination washer/dryer so you don’t have to buy a separate dryer. The highest priced stand alone washer at Sears is $1697.91. That model is less than the cheapest one at Eaton’s in 1962. The low cost Kenmore is less than a third of the price of the budget model of 1962.

Dryers ranger from $749.99 (currently on sale for $599.99) and up at the Bay  and $349.99 and up at Sears. The budget dryer is almost a quarter of the price of the 1962 model.

But those are the modern style washers and dryers. The Eaton’s 1962 Spring and Summer Catalogue featured just those four items – a half page in the catalogue. The styles shown below took up a full page!


Yes! There were more of the old barrel washers with wringers in the catalogue than the modern style. What’s a wringer you ask, you young whippersnapper! Well back in the day, and I remember my mom used one before we moved to Quebec, washers had two rollers on top. You would pass the washed clothes through these rollers to squish out as much water as possible before hanging them on a clothesline. This model sold for $124.88 or $1007.78 in today’s dollar. The model below, with a square basin, sold for $142.95 or $1153.61 today.


And…remember this was the prairie edition of the catalogue and it was likely that some rural homes did not, in fact, have electricity, so they also had a gas powered model running on a 1¼ h.p. Briggs & Stratton gasoline engine. It came with a long hose to carry exhaust fumes outside.


At $174.95, this baby would set you back $1411.85 in today’s dollar!

Now the washing machine may seem like a mundane device to most of us leading comfortable lives in modern western societies. But this simple look back at the day when wringer washers were common and much of the work of washday, wringing clothes and hanging them on a clothesline, were unexceptional, should give us pause. I urge you to watch the video below for a fascinating TED talk on just how revolutionary an invention the washing machine really is and what it means to women around the world. And especially what it could mean for the millions of women who are still without this labor-saving device.

I welcome feedback and if there is anything specific you want to see, I’ll try and accommodate requests. I am selecting pages I find interesting right now rather than going sequentially. This catalogue starts with 135 pages of women’s fashions, which is a bit daunting to say the least and will need to be broken into smaller categories for sure. If you go to the catalogue pages, you can browse the individual catalogue pages I have scanned already. The items in today’s post come from pages 416 and 417 of the catalogue.

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Welcome to Now and Then!

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Welcome to Now and Then, the blog that compares fashions, technology and prices from 1962 to those of today.

Years ago my wife and I were exploring the old abandoned farm house in Alberta where she grew up. Among other things, we found three old Eaton’s catalogues in excellent condition, all from 1962. Eaton’s was Canada’s major department store until it folded in 1999. We took those catalogues home and now I’ve started scanning them, comparing some of the things for sale then and the equivalents today.

Eaton Spring and Summer 1962

Summer Eaton's Catalogue 1962
Eaton Summer Sale Catalogue 1962

Eaton's Christmas 1962 Catalogue
Eaton Christmas Catalogue 1962

While a price comparison is interesting, what is even more interesting to me is the change in styles and fashions, as well as the changes in  technology. Back then women wore flouncy dresses and skirts and one piece bathing suits. Men wore undershirts and tighty whiteys. Home videos were shot on 8 millimeter film and projected with a Bell and Howell projector.

Summer - page 7 excerpt
Casual wear for teen girls from the Summer 1962 Eaton’s catalogue. The equivalent prices in today’s dollars are $70.73, $53.74 and $72.15. (1962 price X 8.07). Comparative prices for similar clothes today? Hard to say as prices vary from vendor to vendor and it is hard to gauge quality. New women’s dresses at The Bay range from $16.80 to hundreds of dollars. At Sears, $8.94 and up. A recent TV ad for fashions from Joe Fresh advertised summer dresses at $29 each. So a direct comparison is impossible.

Some products haven’t changed much other than price. Some have undergone tremendous changes in style. And technology has rendered many products obsolete.

tighty whiteys page 72-SS
Tighty whiteys including undershirts were popular in 1962. These featured in the Summer Sale Catalogue sold for 87¢, 97¢ and $1.00, tops and briefs sold separately. In today’s dollar, those would be $7.02, $7.82 and $8.07. Today you can usually get three pairs for $9.99. The question for me , though, is why is the guy on the right holding a golf club and what the heck is that gizmo the guy in the middle is holding.

In making my comparisons, I’ll be using current department stores and big box stores for equivalent products. Sears, the Bay, Best Buy, etc. I’ll be using Canadian pricing. And I’ll be using Canadian CPI stats to give the prices adjusted for inflation.

film set SS page 256
This is a mid-range film set including camera and projector from Kodak. High end cameras alone went as high as $189.73. That $119.50 price tag in today’s dollars would be $964.37. Today you get a movie camera in your portable telephone. You can buy a movie camera for under $100. It does not need film or expensive processing . You record on a digital memory card and play it back on your computer. You can hook your computer up to your large screen television and play it there if you want.

Navigating the Catalogues

I have posted the front and back covers and the first ten pages of each catalogue already. Click on the Catalogues link above and you get a menu that shows the covers of the three catalogues with links to each. Clicking on a link brings up the front cover of the catalogue as a full page. Underneath you will find a link to go to the next page. So you can start at page one of a catalogue and go through it sequentially.

But since each blog post will reference specific pages, I have also included a page menu that let’s you go to specific pages without having to cycle through the entire catalogue to get there.

Note that while this website is created using WordPress, which uses the php programming language and is database driven, the catalogues themselves are in standard html. I did this because I want the catalogue pages to be self-contained without the header or sidebars that come with the WordPress website. Each catalogue page has two links at the top to get you back to the main website – a Home Button and a Catalogue Button.

Methodology and CPI

For general notes on the methodology for comparing prices then and now, click on the Methodology link above. The CPI link will give you a detailed history of the Consumer Price Indices from Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom from 1960 to the present.

We Rock

There is also a link called We Rock. Because the dot com, dot org, and dot net extensions were all taken, I used the new extension of dot rocks to register this website. So I thought I would include a list of the Billboard Music Charts from its inception in 1958 to the present. Just click on the appropriate link to see what songs were on the hit parade for the day you were born, or your children were born, or your parents.

Creating the Online Catalogues

To create the online catalogue pages take a bit of work. Most scanners, including mine, cannot handle the size of a catalogue page so I have to go through a few steps to prepare them. First I scan the upper half of a page, then the lower half. I save these as jpegs.

Then I open each jpeg with Adobe Photoshop and trim off the excess parts as the scanner cover is open during scanning and records a blank section or a part of a facing page with each scan. I also straighten each picture if necessary.

Once they have been trimmed, I use a program called Scan ‘n’ Stitch to join the two pages together into one large page. I also straighten the finished page if necessary.

Finally I open the finished page in Adobe Photoshop and trim away any remaining excess and do some cosmetic fixing of blemishes – usually on the edges.

Please note that the catalogues are thick and bulky and cannot be laid completely flat for scanning, so the inner edges may be curved and partially illegible. I could fix this by taking an X-acto knife and cutting the pages out of the catalogues before scanning them but I do not want to dismember the catalogues in this way.

This Blog

In future blog posts I will post pictures from the catalogue covering one segment of items for sale – e.g. ladies’ dresses, men’s shoes, children’s wear, garden tools, cameras and video equipment, televisions and radios, home appliances, etc. Eaton’s sold just about everything. The Spring and Summer catalogue is a prairie edition and has a couple of dozen pages of seeds for farmers.

Each post will feature pictures, comparison of the price then with what it would cost in today’s dollar, and, if possible, the price of a similar product today, comparison of tech specs when available, and some commentary.

I welcome feedback on what I hope will be a fascinating and entertaining project.

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