Featured Museum: All About Shoes in Toronto

It’s all about footwear at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto

Riding the trolley from Kensington Market to Bloor Street in Toronto last week, I was headed for the Bata Shoe Museum without any definite idea about what to expect. So I was quite surprised when I saw size of the building and then discovered the extent of the collection inside.

Bata Museum Exterior

Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

From ancient Egyptians to Justin Bieber, the Bata Shoe Museum has four levels of high heels, sandals, boots, mocassins, and quirky footwear. Shoe fanatics could go wild with the diversity of the exhibits since the museum has 12,500 artifacts with several hundred on display at any given time. Anything here to fit your style?

The Ancient

Ancient Egyptian Sandals

Ancient Egyptian Sandals, Ptolemaic Period 300 B.C.E – 1 C.E.

Cultural Practices and Traditions

Chinese Lotus Shoes for Bound Feet

Chinese Lotus Shoes for Bound Feet

Indian Paduka

Indian Paduka for Special Occasions

Rajasthan Dancer's Shoe

Rajasthan Dancer’s Shoe, India 1840

Religious Influences

Pope Leo XIII shoe

Pope Leo XIII Wore These

Buddhist Abbot's Boot

Buddhist Abbot

Styles of the Times

Baroque and Rococo Shoe

Baroque and Rococo Shoe, France 1780s

Renaissance Chopine

Renaissance Chopines, Italy 16th Century

Roaring 20's

Roaring Twenties “High Spirits”


Currently on exhibition through April 7, 2013 is a collection of Parisien designer Roger Vivier’s work from the 1950s and early 1960s when he was with Christian Dior and later on his own. His quote, “To wear dreams on one’s feet is to begin to give a reality to one’s dreams.”, is displayed at the entrance to the exhibit.

Roger Vivier's Bottine

Bottine by Roger Vivier, 1961

Roger Vivier Collection


Roger Vivier Collection

Floating Flower Shoe by Roger Vivier

Designs With a Purpose

These shoes may look quirky, but they actually served a purpose. Below is a Chestnut Crushing Clog that was worn in Auvergne, France during the 19th century for shelling chestnuts — of course!

Chestnut Crushing Shoe

Chestnut Crushing Shoe, France 1800-1900

This shoe is actually designed to protect a cow’s hoof from mud and the elements. Who knew that?

Cow Shoe

Cow Shoe for Real Cows

Footwear of the Famous

Some of the notables whose shoes are at the museum are Madonna, Barbra Streisand, John Lennon, Ella Fitzgerald, Robert Redford, and more, including these.

Mariyln Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor

Mariyln Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor

Elvis Presley's Shoes

Elvis Presley’s Shoes

Admiral Nelson and Napoleon Bonaparte

Admiral Nelson’s Buckles and Napoleon Bonaparte’s Silk Socks

My Shoe Design at the Bata Shoe Museum

There are interactive displays that allow you to design your own shoe by selecting styles, colors and materials. This was my attempt. In my defense, the touch screen wasn’t working properly.

la chaussure

La Chaussure by Traveling with Sweeney

General Information:

The Bata Shoe Museum is located at 327 Bloor Street West in Toronto.

Admission Fees are $14 for adults, $12 for senior citizens (65+).

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

27 thoughts on “Featured Museum: All About Shoes in Toronto

    1. Cathy Post author

      I love shoes, too. I used to have a pretty large collection when I was in the corporate world all those years. Now, my shoe wardrobe is much more limited — darn.

  1. Mary @ The World Is A Book

    What a cool museum! I love shoes and would love to visit this one. It would have been so interesting to see the Chinese Lotus Shoes for Bound Feet just to see how it was possible. I’ve read a couple of books referencing these and have always been curious. Love the Roaring 20s ones.

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    1. Cathy Post author

      Not necessarily, Jools. I think you’d be able to find something of interest there, too. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to post everything here.

  3. Leigh

    Can’t believe I haven’t been there yet. There are some very cool shoes out there. I hate shoe shopping and can relate most to comfortable looking scandals. I’d break my ankle in some of those shoes.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I loved shoe shopping back in the day when I dressed up for work and all. Now, it just seems a challenge trying to find the most comfortable, yet somewhat stylish, shoes for all the walking I do while traveling.

  4. Steve

    Seriously? Cow shoes? I thought my wife’s shoe passion was expensive, but I can’t even imagine having to shoe an entire herd of cows.
    Oh, and I think you’ve been tricked with the Elvis shoes. Everybody knows his shoes were blue and made of suede.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I was quite surprised to see that myself. I don’t know how much they’re actually used though. Should probably have inquired about that, but was eager to move on to the Elvis shoes!

    1. Cathy Post author

      Oh, gosh yes — go to this museum! There’s even so much more than I’ve shown here. Lots of early North American footwear and historical displays as well as lots of cool shoes from various modern eras.

  5. Leslie (Downtown Traveler)

    Awesome shoes! I now have an incredible urge to go shoe shopping 😉 Those ancient crampons are my favorite!

    1. Cathy Post author

      I’m not much of a shopper, but the museum kind of put me in a mood for shoe shopping, too. Something along the lines of those Vivier shoes perhaps.

  6. Andrew Graeme Gould

    How fascinating, Cathy! Cow shoes for real cows? How surprising! A great series of shots. You may just have a real winner with your design, too…

  7. Robert @ Kilimanjaro Climbing Route

    The cow shoe makes my day. Do they really wear them on cows and for what.

    Hiking via Lemosho Route

  8. Pingback: From Shoes to Sex: 13 Intriguing Museums in North America » Traveling with Sweeney

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