Visiting the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto
As a fashion lover, a visit to Toronto would not be complete without a visit to the Bata Shoe Museum. In fact, the first thing I did on my first day in the city was to visit this unique attraction. I got ready early a Sunday morning and went to the hop-on, hop-off bus stop which was at the nearby St Lawrence Market.
I was grateful that the first bus to come along was a trolley and not a double-decker because it was a rainy day. I tried to pay attention to the guide’s commentary despite the loud chatter from other tourists. Along the way I still managed to learn a few interesting tidbits about what the UN now calls the world’s most multicultural city. Shoes were on my mind but I love picking up history lessons when I travel.
Eventually, I made it to the cute little shoebox building where I would spend a couple of hours. My favourite section was the one which showed how women’s shoes have changed over the decades in response to various sociocultural factors. Take a look at these ones from 1920, 1980 and 1990.
Of course, I just like looking at shoes but I believe context is also important. From Chinese foot binding to modern day stilettos or heel-less wedges, each popular style says something about the society in which the woman lives. It says something about the woman or the man who wears it.
I’d never thought about it before but I also came to understand the role women around the world traditionally played in making shoes for their families. Before we could just walk into a store or go on a website and buy whatever we wanted, shoemaking was intricate labour of love.
There were several examples of detailed Native American shoes, boots and moccasins and I was amazed at the creativity!
I didn’t expect to be interested in the sneaker culture exhibit. I was picturing lots of boring sports shoes… and they were some but there were also some gorgeous designer and special edition designs that caught the attention of the fashionista in me.
The museum shop sold virtually everything shoe-related: books, mugs, postcards, napkins and ornaments. They were all very adorable but I didn’t actually need anything. Also, the items were a little too pricey and it was too early in my trip to splurge.
As I hopped back on another bus, I realized my journey in Toronto was only now beginning. The Bata Shoe Museum was the perfect start!