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A century at the forefront of retail innovation

Since 1922, Canadian Tire Corporation has been at the forefront of retail innovation. supplied

Ten innovative moments that shaped Canadian Tire

Two storied brands, one hundred years of history

The year is 1922. You’ve bought a copy of The Globe and Mail (or The Globe, as it was called then). As you flip through its pages, you might come across stories about the Toronto St. Pats winning their first Stanley Cup, provinces switching from driving on the left to the right side of the road, and Toronto General Hospital becoming the site of the world's first insulin treatment.

It might not have made the headlines then, but another pretty significant event in Canada’s history also took place in 1922. That October, two brothers invested their money in Hamilton Tire and Garage, a small tire store in Toronto. (Located at the corner of Yonge and Gould, it was just a short stroll across downtown to King and York, where the newly amalgamated Globe and Mail paper would make its headquarters from 1937 to 1974.)

A lot has changed since then. The Globe and Mail, for example, has moved twice. Hamilton Tire and Garage has become Canadian Tire Corporation and grown exponentially, to say the least. One thing that’s remained the same? Both brands remain intrinsically woven into the fabric of Canadian life, part of the day-to-day life of millions of people from coast to coast.

This special content marks 100 years of Canadian Tire. And we detail some major milestones for the brand, celebrating its rich history and taking stock of its present, looking confidently towards the next century to offer a sneak peek at what appears to be a very, very bright future.

From its origins as a single auto garage to a national chain of over 1,700 retail stores and gas outlets, Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC) has proudly served customers across Canada for 100 years. As it grew, CTC was consistently at the forefront of retail innovation, with products and services designed to make life better for customers from coast to coast. These ten pivotal moments show how CTC innovated through a century in business.


With their combined savings of $1,800, brothers John W. and Alfred J. Billes purchased the Hamilton Tire and Garage Ltd. at the corner of Gerrard and Hamilton streets in Toronto. Five years later, in 1927, Canadian Tire Corporation was officially incorporated.


Canadian Tire’s business grew alongside the increasing number of car owners in the country. The company began sending free road maps to current and potential customers with a one-page price list on the reverse, leading to an influx of orders for tires and a growing product catalogue. Their booming mail-order business caught the attention of aspiring entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity to sell products more efficiently in their retail stores. This marked the beginning of Canadian Tire’s network of Associate Dealers and the foundation of today’s Canadian Tire chain.


Canadian Tire launched an “unconditional guarantee on tires” – the Billes’ early take on road hazard insurance. Canadian Tire would either repair damaged tires at no cost or replace them at a reduced price. This was the first time that a Canadian company offered a guarantee on tires for anything other than manufacturing defects. The guarantee became hugely popular among customers.

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An original advertisement for Canadian Tire's unconditional guarantee for tires, a Canadian first.Supplied


After moving into a spacious new location with massive stock areas at Yonge and Davenport in Toronto, clerks took longer to fill orders for customers waiting at the service counter. To speed up service, salesclerks began wearing rollerskates, racing to fill catalogue mail orders and serve customers. This not only sped up service and boosted sales, but also attracted people to come into the store just for the entertainment value of seeing clerks on skates.

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Canadian Tire's roller-skating clerks were such a hit that people came into stores just to witness the novelty firsthand.Supplied


Canadian Tire’s first gas bar opens at the intersection of Yonge and Church Street in Toronto. Gas bar customers receive discount coupons, later known as Canadian Tire Money, redeemable on merchandise at Canadian Tire stores. This was known as the first loyalty program in Canada.


Canadian Tire became the first non-bank in the world to issue its own MasterCard, giving cardholders the ability to earn Canadian Tire Money on the card, rather than in paper bills. The company further integrated financial services in 2003 by establishing Canadian Tire Bank.


Canadian Tire launched its own e-commerce site, allowing customers to shop online. Online sales steadily grew, and it became one of the busiest retail websites in the country. CTC also acquired Mark’s Work Wearhouse.


Canadian Tire Corporation acquired national sporting goods retailer The Forzani Group, including SportChek, Atmosphere and Sports Experts.

In the years that followed, CTC continued to build its business with strategic acquisitions and partnerships, purchasing Norway-based outdoor brand Helly Hansen, partnering with pet specialty retailer Petco, and acquiring Party City’s Canadian business.


CTC evolved its iconic loyalty program with the launch of Triangle Rewards, a completely redesigned, company-wide loyalty and credit card offering that serves as the foundation for engaging customers and creating new experiences.


Canadian Tire celebrates 100 years of making life in Canada better. While the milestones of the next 100 years for CTC are unwritten, one thing is sure to remain true for the company: an unwavering commitment to serving its customers and communities.

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Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Canadian Tire Corporation. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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