Let’s get this out of the way before we start. I am not a shoe kind of girl. I know that the culture I stem from insists that shoes equal happiness for all women everywhere and that with the right kind of shoes, man and diamond, a woman will be set for life, but that’s just not me. (Though I’m happy to test out the diamond part. In the name of science, of course, so if you have some knocking about then send them my way and I’ll conduct a thorough investigation.)
But I digress.
In particular, the Toronto Shoe Museum. A surprisingly brilliant place to visit.
Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that, who cares? He’s a mile away and you’ve got his shoes. Billy Connolly.
For a whirlwind look at the history and culture of the world, it turns out you can’t do better than looking at shoes.
Armoured shoes with blunt toes from the time when the King of England would behead you if you had more slender toes than him.
Tiny shoes from 19th century China, when women bound their feet in the name of beauty.
Teetering shoes from the 21st century, when women strained their spines in the name of beauty.
Enormous shoes from basketball players (20 EEE from Shaquille O’Neil,) pony-skin boots from Picasso, squeaky sneakers from teen-throb Justin Bieber and slippers from the Pope himself.
Religious shoes. Old fashioned shoes. And beautiful, brilliant, fashion shoes (I’m not shoe-obsessed, but even I can appreciate fine art.)
Admiral Horatio Nelson’s silver buckle. And Napoleon Bonaparte’s inner black socks.
From dancers to dictators, priests to passers-by, the Bata Shoe Museum pointed out what should have been an obvious point:
Whether we like it or not, we’re all shoe people really.
The Bata Shoe Museum has more than 13 000 artifacts spanning 4500 years of history.
I visited Toronto as part of the #LuxuryToronto project and received free entry to the museum for review purposes. I set up the visit myself since the concept sounded interesting and I remain as free as a bare-footed pixie to write about whatever it is that I want. See the exciting disclosure policy.
Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on www.insidethetravellab.com