Seven figures that once graced the windows of the downtown Eaton’s department store are part of an auction at Kaye’s Auction House.
Four plywood figures are of a mother and three children, which were likely created in the early 1950s and came from a woman whose family member once worked at Eaton’s.
"You can tell they’re handpainted by somebody, unless (Eaton’s) commissioned it out to someone else, but I know they used to have an art department," said Avenue Antiques owner Frank Douglas, who is helping the auction house.
Three paper-maché figures were created by a Vancouver company. While they’re in "pretty rough" condition, Douglas said they could have been made as early as the 1920s.
"People are always looking to get these unusual items that have some history," he said.
Douglas said the auction house will only know once bidding closes on Sunday just how much people are willing to pay for them. He noted a wooden Eaton’s sign once sold for more than $300.
Items such as these are often popular because they’re a part of local history, Douglas said. There are generations of Winnipeggers with fond memories of the Portage Avenue department store, who will use the figures as holiday decorations or discussion pieces.
"It’s history. Eaton’s is gone, and people remember these store displays. It’s basically nostalgia, it takes people back to their childhoods, and they remember that."
The store was demolished in 2002 to make way for an arena.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.