History

historical images from Carlton Cards Canada

1920: Carlton Cards is founded by Harry Harshman. The first office was located on Spadina Avenue in downtown Toronto, Ontario

1923: As the business grows, Carlton Cards needs more space and moves to a new facility at Richmond and Peter Street, also in downtown Toronto. The new plant has four floors with press rooms, order filling, shipping and administration.

1933: Carlton Cards is incorporated.

1956: Carlton Cards is purchased by American Greetings of Cleveland, Ohio.

1964: Carlton Cards moves from its downtown location to a new corporate headquarters and manufacturing location at 1460 The Queensway in Toronto, ON.

1967: The Holly Hobbie character is introduced on a small array of cards and consumer response is overwhelming.

1968: Production expands to gift wrap and packaging.

1970: Carlton Cards establishes itself as a formidable competitor in the social expressions industry and surpasses Hallmark as the market leader.

1972: Carlton Cards launches candle manufacturing.

1977: The Holly Hobbie character continues to charm Canadians and becomes one of the most sought-after female-oriented licensed character in the world.

1979: Carlton Cards purchases RLK Industries and changes its name to Plus Mark which becomes Canada’s leading supplier of Christmas wrap and boxed cards.

1980: The Strawberry Shortcake character is introduced. Strawberry Shortcake generates $500 million in retail sales for American Greetings family.

1982: Purchase of RustCraft Canada makes the company the leading supplier of greeting cards and accessories to major supermarkets. Carlton Cards also purchases its first seven-colour printing press, to become the largest Miller press operation in Canada.

1983: Care Bears characters are introduced at a national Toy Fair in the United States.

1989: Carlton Cards introduces the French Everyday card line "Entre Nous", which becomes a key competitor in Canada’s French-language market.

1997: Carlton Cards introduces DesignWare, a full-line party goods supplier and GuildHouse, a full line candle supplier to the company's existing business.

1999: Carlton Cards integrates manufacturing, order filling and distribution operations with American Greetings offering its retail partners improved customer service and direct-to-store product delivery across North America.

2000: Carlton Cards and American Greetings acquire Gibson Cards, a 150-year-old Brand, now positioned as a discount program offering for retailers.

2002: Care Bears emerge from hibernation. Twenty years after their original introduction by American Greetings in 1982, the Care Bears re-emerged from the clouds of Care-a-lot to charm a whole new generation of kids and parents.

2003: Strawberry Shortcake is back in action. Mothers experienced a little déjà vu when another great '80s icon, Strawberry Shortcake, was reintroduced. Today, the beloved icon has two different looks:

"Classic Strawberry Shortcake" with her trademark pinafore and rag doll look and an updated, more contemporary version called "Strawberry Shortcake and Friends" was also introduced.

2004: American Greetings gets interactive and announces the formation of AG mobile. The company’s new wireless division acquired MIDIRing Tones.

2006: American Greetings turned 100 with clear goals in place for an even better next century. The dedication to innovative products that drove Jacob Sapirstein, the founder of the company in 1906, is alive and well today, driving the modern torchbearers forward to assist consumers in enhancing their relationships through self-expression. 100 years later, American Greetings still says it best.

2008: After 44 years in Etobicoke, on June 2, 2008, Carlton Cards Head Office relocated to a new home at 1820 Matheson Blvd in Mississauga, Ontario. The new 38,000 square foot state-of-the-art office space features open ceilings, and bright splashes of colour throughout – the perfect setting for collaboration and open discussion. We look forward to many years in our Mississauga home as Carlton Cards continues to create innovative products to help Canadians create happiness, laughter and love.

As a natural extension of products that enable people to connect and celebrate, American Greetings purchased PhotoWorks and Webshots, two online photo sharing and personal publishing sites.

American Greetings acquires Recycled Paper Greetings, known for humourous and alternative cards and was one of the first greeting card companies to print its product on recycled paper.

2009: American Greetings purchases the wholesale division of Schurman Fine Papers that supplies Papyrus brand greeting cards and products.

American Greetings announces their alliance with Amscan, Inc. providing retail customers a broader assortment of party goods product.

2010: Taylor Swift, multi-platinum selling recording artist joins American Greetings and Carlton Cards as writer and creative contributor and the Taylor Swift collection debuts in stores.

2011: justWink was introduced as the first social expressions company to recognize and address Gen Y’s unique social expressions needs. In 2012, justWink, the industry’s first comprehensive greeting card paper and digital brand created by Gen Y for Gen Y, was introduced.

2014: Just in time for Mother’s Day, Carlton Cards reinvented category marketing with the release of the acclaimed World’s Toughest Job viral video in the spring of 2014. Who has that job? Moms do, of course. The video went on to win the 2015 North American Grand Effie award and drew more than 26 million views.

2016: Carlton Cards unveils new company logos that reflect who we are today and our commitment to making the world a more thoughtful and caring place. Every. Single. Day.

2018: On April 6, 2018, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and American Greetings Corporation completed the transaction in which CD&R-managed funds acquired a 60% ownership stake in American Greetings. The Weiss Family, descendants of Jacob Sapirstein, who founded the company, retained a 40% stake in the business.

2020: Carlton Cards celebrates its 100th year of making the world a more thoughtful and caring place. Every. Single. Day. We are so pleased to have been part of connections and celebrations of Canadians for a century.