The Canadian Tire Catalogue: More than Just Tires

The Canadian Tire Catalogue became almost a legend in many people's eyes and long outlived many more "prestigious" publications ...

By Karl Drew, an Australian-based business writer with 20 years experience in entertainment, transport and security.

The Tire Catalogue was first published in 1928. It grew into something much more than just a piece of paper with a few tire offers since those earlier days when the founding partners decided to promote mail order to Canada.

Mail order catalogues weren't such a common thing back in 1928, so co-founders Alfred J Biles and William J Biles were very much marketing gurus that were well ahead of their times. They also recognized an opportunity to promote other products as part of their tire catalogue. So much so that in its final days, the Canadian Tire Catalogue contained a range of goods that attracted just about anyone to their doors. It was  a strategy that has placed Canadian Tire Corporation in a very good business position, with $3.6 billion in market capitalization and a listing in the top 60 Toronto Stock Exchange.

From Humble Beginnings

At the 2009 annual meeting of shareholders, the President and CEO, Stephen Wetmore, spoke openly about the history of the catalogue and the legacy left from eighty years of the Canadian Tire Corporation serving the Canadian population.

canadian tire logo

Canadian Tire Catalogues were most recognizable by the company's logo, the famous red triangle in the top corner that is so recognizable to Canadians. It was a weekly publication that  virtually became an institution in Canada, so much so that when the tire company decided in 2008 that it would only produce its catalogue online and no longer in a paper form, many customers were quite outspoken. An example of this can be found at the web publication, which is an independent online magazine with over 20 million monthly readers. I'll take a much closer look at this objection later in the article, but for now, let's take a look at some advice from Canadian Tire about winter tires.

Winter Tire Advice from Canadian Tire

As you could imagine, the winter conditions in Canada can be challenging for drivers. Some drivers that are new to these sorts of winter conditions don't realize that winter tires provide better control for all vehicles, and that includes 4x4s. Snow and ice covered roads are quite normal for Canada in the cooler months and all cars, SUVs, pick-ups and light trucks do handle much better in snowy or icy conditions when they are equipped with a set of winter tires.

A big misconception held by many people is that their all-season tires will do the same job as a set of dedicated winter tires. All-season tires are a good option in most conditions; however, they may not be suitable for the harshest winter weather. And there are some good reasons for this.

At low temperatures, standard tire compounds can lose their elasticity, and this then results in reduced traction in the ice or snow. Winter tires are made of specialized compounds that maintain elasticity in the lower temperatures you'd expect to see in Canada. That's why modern winter tires as much as 50% more winter traction than all-season tires. The Canadian Tire Catalogue has a vast range of winter tires and this is where many Canadians start their tire shopping.

You should change your tires before it snows, Canadian Tire recommends that vehicle owners change to winter tires in October or early November. It also recommends avoiding hard braking where vehicles are not fitted with ABS brakes in order to avoid losing control. Another good tip for winter drivers is to climb hills in the highest possible gear to avoid wheels spinning on the slippery surfaces.

Silent Majority of Just a Loud Minority?

Susanna McLeod is a regular contributor to and lamented the loss of the catalogue in its paper form. She had some good points, too, like the fact that a person can't actually take the catalogue with them to the store anymore and point out the particular item they are looking for.

Looking at Suzanne's predicament from a different angle, it's testament to the pervasiveness of the catalogue in Canada. Susanna isn't the stereotype you'd expect to be perusing a tire catalogue, after all. She's a mature-age writer with ten years experience who also has a passion for cartoons and art auctions. And, she is currently studying a degree in religious studies. So why is a person like Suzanne getting all in a twist over a tire catalogue?

For those of you who aren't acquainted with the catalogue, it sold a lot more than just tires. Its circulation was estimated at around 9 million copies per week in its paper form and sold everything from tires to kitchenware.

My wife seems to have very much taken to it while I create this article (despite the fact we do not live in Canada) and has started a list of things she would like. The list so far looks like this:

  • Black and Decker Convection Toaster
  • Sun cast Deck Box
  • Electric Patio Heater
  • Debbie Travis Wood Tea light Holder
  • Whirlpool Dehumidifier
  • Dynamo Crank Flashlight
  • Emerald Solar LED Path Lights
  • Stinger Airsoft Gun (I assume for our son)
  • Bushline Fishing Vest
  • Coleman Camping Coffee Maker
  • Kids Camping Chair
  • CCM Bike and Tool Repair Kit
  • Mastercraft Garage Heater
... and she's just gotten started.

Internet Marketing and Canadian Tire Corporation

Alexa Internet, the web information company, at the time of writing this article, ranks as the 138th most frequented website in Canada, with users from the U.S. and India as well. Alexa estimates that the average amount of time each user spends on the site at around 5 minutes which is a lengthy stay in the world of internet surfers who are quick to click away when things don't interest them. To paraphrase a long running very successful TV commercial for a popular brand of tea in Canada, "It's a pity Canadian Tire is only available in Canada!"


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