Style in the Colonies - Imported Shoes

As the colonies grew, and shoes brought with the colonists wore out, new supplies were needed. Although according to historical documents the first shoemakers had arrived by 1634, the first tannery in Quebec did not open until 1664. Until then shoemakers were restricted to repairing shoes, or using poor-quality imported hides for leather.

Style in the French Colonies

In 1635 the ship Le Saint Jean is recorded as having brought 108 pairs of men’s shoes (and one pair of woman’s shoes). Because of their scarcity, these shoes would have sold in Quebec for far more than in France. Within the colony, shoes were even used as a kind of currency to pay for goods and services.

Even in the earliest years of settlement, some colonists could afford fashionable shoes in European styles, usually imported directly from France. Montcalm, the Governor of Quebec, reported that Quebec women followed Paris fashion as faithfully as possible. This pair of French shoes represents what the prosperous women of the colony would have worn around 1780.

Style in the British Colonies

British settlers in Nova Scotia and Upper Canada (the future Ontario) also wore fashionable European shoes. Initially most were imported from overseas, but later, as in New France, a few master shoemakers set up small workshops.
The Bata Shoe Museum

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