A Christmas Shoe

Author 
JEANETTE ELLIOTT, COLLECTIONS RELOCATION COORDINATOR

While searching for a Christmas-themed image or object in our collection to write about I ran across an early advertising piece that immediately caught my attention. It is a cardboard image of a shoe - a beautiful red shoe decorated with flowers - and being a lover of both shoes and flowers I needed to investigate more.

Text printed on the shoe reveals that the card is from the J.P Cook Boot and Shoe Store located at 173 Dundas Street. Joseph Patrick Cook was the second generation of Cooks to operate a shoe store; his Irish-born father Philip had been a shoemaker in London since the 1860’s. Research shows the Cook’s had stores in at least three different locations on Dundas Street, between Richmond and Clarence, and in later years at 483 Richmond Street, just north of the Grand Theatre. In 1905 Joseph formed a partnership with C.J. Fitzgerald of Brooklyn, New York to establish the Cook-Fitzgerald Co. Ltd., a shoe manufacturing business located on the north side of Carling Street between Talbot and Ridout. The firm would later move to the southeast corner of Richmond and Bathurst streets.

Image from page 124 of London Board of Trade : Fiftieth Anniversary 1857-1907, Annual Report, 1907. Courtesy of W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.

A poem, strategically printed in the shape of a knife on the reverse of the card, reveals something of the competitive merchandising nature of Joseph Cook - “This is the merchant’s knife, trusty and true, intended to cut all high prices in two, invented by us and kept in our store to insure lower prices than ever before.” It goes on to say, “Just mention our name if you don’t know our store, the square dealer they know us of yore, we will make it a point to show you the knife that worries our competitors out of their life”. It is also interesting to note that the card bears the name of the publisher, “FREE PRESS”, another iconic London business.

The printing on the face of the card reads “CHRISTMAS BOX”, and would likely have be tucked into the yuletide present of the lucky recipient of a new pair of Cook’s shoes. The word “Gluck” is also printed on the heel of the shoe; a German word that can be translated to mean luck or happiness. From the staff and volunteers of Fanshawe Pioneer Village we wish you a Happy Christmas, and much “Gluck” in the coming year!