For the past 300 years, skating has been a pleasurable pastime; ice skating as a means of transportation (on bone skates) has even been documented as far back as 1604 when the explorer Sieur de Monte settled on St. Croix Island.

Children and adults strapped skate blades to their one pair of Sunday best boots and could skate on ice ponds or rivers. As early as the 1850s, people could skate on covered ice rinks, either informally (often to music), or as participants in barrel races, speed skating contests, or curling.
For the past 300 years, skating has been a pleasurable pastime; ice skating as a means of transportation (on bone skates) has even been documented as far back as 1604 when the explorer Sieur de Monte settled on St. Croix Island.

Children and adults strapped skate blades to their one pair of Sunday best boots and could skate on ice ponds or rivers. As early as the 1850s, people could skate on covered ice rinks, either informally (often to music), or as participants in barrel races, speed skating contests, or curling.

© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Skating scene

Skating scene

Toronto Public Library
1863-04-10
© Canadian Illustrated News, Hamilton


Alice Worts, Winner of First Prize, April, 1863

Alice Worts, Winner of First Prize, April, 1863

Canadian Illustrated News, Vol. 1 (Hamilton), 1863, April 4, p.241, Toronto Public Library (TRL).
1863-04-04
© Canadian Illustrated News, Vol. 1 (Hamilton), 1863, April 4, p.241


Child's Skate

Child's Skate

The Bata Shoe Museum

Metal and rope
S81.148
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Skates

Skates

The Bata Shoe Museum

Wood, metal and leather
S80.1044
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Skates

Skates

The Bata Shoe Museum
1830 - 1860
Wood and metal
P80.1019
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


By the end of the nineteenth century, most of the shoes that Canadians wore had been made in factories in the United States or Canada.

Button Boots - Machine-Made Variety

Canadian factories made large numbers of women’s button boots, a style that was particularly popular in the early years of the twentieth century. A woman could purchase the basic style with a choice in quality, allowing her to select a boot to match her budget - compare the high quality of the boot with white piping to the shoe below it of a lesser quality.

The Button Boot style was preceded by a very similar scalloped edge version - seen here with the trade card of the maker. Even after they started to go out of fashion, shoes resembling low-cut button boots were made and purchased.

Mechanizing the Industry

By using newly invented equipment such as this buttoning machine, semi-skilled factory workers could make dozens of pairs of shoes in the time a craftsman would have needed to make one pair. Some of these shoe workers were women - there were 350 women doing this work in Toronto by 1868.

The first sh Read More
By the end of the nineteenth century, most of the shoes that Canadians wore had been made in factories in the United States or Canada.

Button Boots - Machine-Made Variety

Canadian factories made large numbers of women’s button boots, a style that was particularly popular in the early years of the twentieth century. A woman could purchase the basic style with a choice in quality, allowing her to select a boot to match her budget - compare the high quality of the boot with white piping to the shoe below it of a lesser quality.

The Button Boot style was preceded by a very similar scalloped edge version - seen here with the trade card of the maker. Even after they started to go out of fashion, shoes resembling low-cut button boots were made and purchased.

Mechanizing the Industry

By using newly invented equipment such as this buttoning machine, semi-skilled factory workers could make dozens of pairs of shoes in the time a craftsman would have needed to make one pair. Some of these shoe workers were women - there were 350 women doing this work in Toronto by 1868.

The first shoe-making machinery was imported to Montreal from the United States in 1857, but it took 30 years to mechanize the industry completely. One of the final operations to be mechanized was lasting - the shaping of the shoe on a form that matches the shape of the foot. Shoemakers had believed that it was impossible to duplicate this skill with a machine, and when a lasting machine was introduced in 1889, they responded with protests and even sabotage.

With the factory system came industrial conflict, as shoe workers tried to better their wages and working conditions. On June 1, 1898 a Toronto newspaper reported:

"Yesterday an information was laid against 21 of the strikers [at the J.D. King shoe factory], charging them with besetting the factory and endeavouring to prevent employees from carrying on their work."

© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Button Boots

Button Boots

The Bata Shoe Museum
1912 - 1917
Leather and textile
P79.811
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Low Cut Button Boots

Low Cut Button Boots

Laidlaw-Watson Shoe Co.
1895 - 1902
Leather
S81.358
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Trade Card

Trade Card

Valiant Shoe Mfg. Co.
1895 - 1903
Paper and ink
P91.48
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Pair of posters produced in 1880 proclaiming increased production due to mechanization

Pair of posters produced in 1880 proclaiming increased production due to mechanization

McCord Museum

© McCord Museum


Shoe factory lasting room, 1915

Shoe factory lasting room, 1915

Peabody Essex Museum
1915
© Peabody Essex Museum, #223.


Buttoning Machine

By using newly invented equipment such as this buttoning machine, semi-skilled factory workers could make dozens of pairs of shoes in the time a craftsman would have needed to make one pair.

Elliot Machine Co.
1910 - 1920
Cast iron, brass and steel
S80.1669
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will :
  • Explain how the environment influenced population (Aboriginal, French and Engilsh) in their culture, lifestyle and economy;
  • Identify the effects that resulted from interaction between Aboriginal peoples and colonizers;
  • Summarize the evolution of the shoes in Canada and involve significant changes to Canada’s development;
  • Analyze the development of Canada through the evolution of shoes.

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