Tremblay’s Shoe Repair
If you want to experience a
taste of nostalgia, visit Tremblay’s Shoe Repair on Fifth Street, north of Lakeshore. Walking into Bruce Tremblay’s shop is like
going back a hundred years in time. The
shop is filled with equipment that Bruce’s grandfather bought when he started the
business back in 1929.
Tremblay, originally from Timmins,
Ontario, learned the leather
trade from his brother, who was a blacksmith.
Wilfred chose New Toronto as the place to open his first shop on the
southeast corner of Lakeshore & Fifth in 1929, pictured to the left (beside
the fruit market on the corner).
after, the shop moved onto the east side of Fifth Street, immediately north of
Lakeshore. This building has since
become a two-storey extension of the building facing Lakeshore, which now
houses a bakery/deli and apartments in the second storey.
the time, shoe shines were a dime and Wilf had 2 other competitors in town, but
business was strong. Over the years, the
competitors left leaving Tremblay’s, not only the only shoe repair survivor,
but also the oldest surviving commercial business in New Toronto. June 2004 commemorates 75 years in business
Haslett remembers Tremblay’s well. The
photo to the right was taken on Fifth
Street in February 1945. The photo shows Mike pushing his sister
Jocelyn in a baby carriage, right across the street from Tremblay's Shoe
remembers Mr. Tremblay finding him sitting on the curb near his shop one day,
cleaning his brown shoes with water out of a puddle. Mr. Tremblay was quick to advise him that
this was not a proper way to clean shoes.
Mike also remembers watching Mr. Tremblay and his son working away inside
In 1946, the Tremblay’s bought an empty lot on the west side
of Fifth Street,
and built a new shop, pictured below with Wilfred and Clifford
respectively. This building has since
had a second storey added for the family quarters. Wilfred’s son, Clifford went
to Fifth Street Public School
and worked in the shop as a kid. Cliff
continued in the business for over 50 years.
Cliff’s son, Bruce, started shining shoes at 12 years of age, and now at
age 50, continues to manage the business much in the style of his father and
grandfather before him. Several of
Bruce’s customers today were customers of his father’s years ago. Even as a new customer, you can always
guarantee some friendly conversation walking into the shop, along with
The shop is full of antiques, and is a veritable museum! The shoeshine chair was bought from the CNE Horse
Palace for the first shop
and was antique at the time of its purchase.
There are Singer stitching machines from 1904 & 1907. There is a beautiful antique cash register
that “cha-chings” up the sales up to a maximum of $6.00 at a time. There is a pendulum clock on the wall that
Bruce informs me is one of many in New Toronto, purchased from a traveling
salesman who came around town in the 1930’s.
$2.00 deposit and an affordable payment plan. There is also a painting of a ship on the
wall from Cunard Lines. Bruce tells me
that his grandfather found it in the garbage one day, discarded by the nearby
travel agency. When no one claimed it,
it became a permanent fixture in the shop.
Below are links to
two newspaper articles, dated 25 years apart, featuring Tremblay’s Shoe
The Advertiser June 1979 Toronto Sun May 2004