The Toronto Shoe Museum Far more interesting than it sounds

By Abi King | Canada

May 28

Shoe museum Toronto Plastic ShoesLet’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.

The Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

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.


Scarlet shoes, Shoe Museum, Toronto

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.

Shoe artwork, Shoe Museum Toronto

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.

Nelson's Buckle & Napoleon's Socks, Shoe Museum, Toronto

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.

Mocassins, Shoe Museum Toronto

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.

Scarlet stilettos in the Toronto Shoe Museum

From Marilyn Monroe to the Pope


About the Author

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

Lane May 28, 2013

I love these little offbeat museums. They really can add a new dimension to a place.

    Abi King May 29, 2013

    You’re right. I loved the “Museum of Broken Relationships” in Zagreb, too. Gave a really interesting perspective on the place…

Jessica May 30, 2013

I like the shoe museum much more than I expected to. It seemed like the kind of place that could easily have been boring, but it ended up being kind of a quirky history lesson.

    Abi King May 30, 2013

    I couldn’t agree more!

I would LOVE to visit the Shoe Museum! And yes, I’m a shoe kind of girl:D No heels though. I go for practical:-)

    Abi King June 5, 2013

    ;-) Truth, is, I loved wearing heels…But after surgery, I can’t, so I’m now a practical girl all the time!

Hogga June 10, 2013

love this place, especially on Thursday nights :)

    Abi King June 14, 2013

    Eh?! What happens on a Thursday night?

Lydia June 12, 2013

What a fun post! I AM a shoe kind of girl and I loved your virtual wander through the museum. However, since I grew up on an island in the Caribbean, the “bare-footed pixie” most definitely strikes a chord as well :)

    Abi King June 14, 2013

    If you ARE a shoe kind of girl then you would absolutely love it there! Plenty more to see beyond these photos!

Spencer Samaroo June 23, 2013

Don’t tell my wife about this place! She will be booking a flight to Toronto first thing tomorrow!

    Abi King June 29, 2013

    And these pics are just the tip of the iceberg…;-)

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