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Sample images from Old World Shoes.

As a way of celebrating all the good things that small businesses bring to Toronto, I chose to focus my on one theme - independent shoe and shoe repair stores. These stores have been touchstones in communities for decades, and when they are gone, something is lost along with them.

Since late 2017 I interviewed 21 store owners, and have encountered not only the nostalgic side, but also signs of life and renewal in this field.

This project - documented in images, words and video - was exhibited as part of the Contact Photo Festival in December 2021, and again in the 2022 DesignTO Festival, where it was selected as "Best in Exhibition". The exhibit was featured on CBC Radio's Metro Morning and CBC Toronto TV's 6:00 PM News.

To learn more about this exhibit, including links to media coverage and acknowledgements of those who helped make the exhibit happen, please click here.

All images © Henry VanderSpek and are not to be shared or used without express written permission.
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