These artifacts have been chosen as exhibition highlights not only because they are stellar examples of craftsmanship, but because they reflect the essence of footwear stories in early Canada. By studying them we can learn much about available natural resources, protection from the varied Canadian climate as well as the exchange of goods and knowledge between Aboriginals and immigrants of European descent. In addition, they inform us of the need for both practical and fancy footwear amongst all of the founding cultures, as well as the transition from handcraft to machine-made footwear.

Whether for traversing arctic ice and snow, hunting on the forest floor, exploring the granite outcrops of the Canadian Shield or navigating the mud, cobblestones and corduroy roads of early farms and settlements, these shoes are memorable for their significant contribution to the narrative of early Canadian footwear.
These artifacts have been chosen as exhibition highlights not only because they are stellar examples of craftsmanship, but because they reflect the essence of footwear stories in early Canada. By studying them we can learn much about available natural resources, protection from the varied Canadian climate as well as the exchange of goods and knowledge between Aboriginals and immigrants of European descent. In addition, they inform us of the need for both practical and fancy footwear amongst all of the founding cultures, as well as the transition from handcraft to machine-made footwear.

Whether for traversing arctic ice and snow, hunting on the forest floor, exploring the granite outcrops of the Canadian Shield or navigating the mud, cobblestones and corduroy roads of early farms and settlements, these shoes are memorable for their significant contribution to the narrative of early Canadian footwear.

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

Baffinland Inuit Boots

The baby seal worn close to the skin is thinner and softer than the skins used to make the outer layers of the boots.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1920
Baby seal skin
P79.633
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Iglulingmiut Inuit boots

Boots with intricate design, such as this pair made by Martha Naqitarvik of Arctic Bay, demonstrate superb workmanship.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1987
Sealskin
P87.108
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Moccasins of the First Nations - Walking on Snow

The Athapaskan and Cree wore this type of moose hide moccasin boot with snowshoes.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1830 - 1860
Snowshoes: Wood and babiche, Moccasins: Native tanned and smoked skin and thread
S83.1 and P86.114
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Moccasins of the First Nations - One-Piece Moccasins

Both the central seam and collar edge have fine porcupine quillwork in an orange, white, and black cross pattern. Dyed moosehair hangs from tin cones around the rim of the collar.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1780 - 1790
Native tanned caribou skin, moose hair and porcupine quill
P82.142
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Moccasins of the First Nations - Two-Piece Moccasins

Two-piece moccasins have an apron inserted at the top of the foot.

Quill work was woven separately on a loom and then applied to each apron (vamp) and suspended from the collars. Geometric patterns form triangles, stars, chevrons, and thunderbirds. Three bands of bird quill piping decorate the joint between the apron and bottom pieces.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1829
Smoke moose hide and porcupine quill
P98.16
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Changing Styles - The Role of Trade and Voyageurs - Botte Sauvage of the Voyageurs

What are the particular features of this type of shoe?

The botte sauvage melds the soft sole of the moccasin with the stiff leather upper of European boots.

The Bata Shoe Museum
XIXth Century
Leather
S95.29
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Changing Styles - The Role of Trade and Voyageurs - The Enduring Moccasin with Variations

This pair of moccasins belonged to a child, and elegantly combines traditional and European features.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1915
Smoke moose skin
P80.843
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Changing Styles - The Role of Trade and Voyageurs - Moccasins with Soles

This pair of woman's flat shoes combines European and First Nations' techniques and decoration.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1830 - 1840
Walnut-dyed deerskin and commercial leather
P00.4
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Canadian Footwear in the Age of the Craftsman - Craftsmanship in Handmade Shoes

Look for the details in the boots from the mid-nineteenth century that reveal their hand-craftsmanship.

The man's pair of Wellington boots has:
• a lift reinforced with many nails
• double layer of leather for the sole
• pegged sole
• stacked leather heel
• piped and stitched side seams

The Bata Shoe Museum

Leather
S95.23
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Canadian Footwear in the Age of the Craftsman - Shoes & Boots for Dress Wear - At the Ball

Man's pair of black leather pump shoes:
• trimmed with black ribbon binding
• lined with fine materials such as ivory moiré silk.
• soles have a tooled decorative edge

The Bata Shoe Museum
1840 - 1850
Leather
P87.54
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Canadian Footwear in the Age of the Craftsman - Shoes & Boots for Dress Wear - At the Ball 2

Woman's pair of green silk shoes:
• fashionable square toe
• matching green silk laces and rosettes
• kid lining and sock

A stamp on the insole indicates that the maker, seller, and importer was Melnotte suggesting that these shoes were probably made in France and sold in London.

The Bata Shoe Museum
1835 - 1840
Silk and kid
P83.28
© The Bata Shoe Museum, 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Canadian Footwear in the Age of the Machine - Bell Shoes

The bell symbol on the sole indicates that this pair of walking shoes was made in the J. & T. Bell factory at Montreal. A label is not necessary to recognise a machine-made shoe: tiny regular stitches reveal its manufacture by machine rather than by a craftsman.

J. & T. Bell
c. 1890
Black kid and glass beads
968.062.9
© Joseph Brant Museum


Canadian Footwear in the Age of the Machine - Bulldog Toe Button Boots

From about 1908 to 1920, these shoes with rounded bulbous toes were more popular in North America than in Europe where rounded and pointed toe shoes were both in vogue.

The Diamond Shoe
1912 - 1918
Leather
S79.23
© 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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