Recently I tweeted out photos of four photos old hand-painted benches that we discovered during a recent day of flaneuring the community of Manchester asking, “Where in Calgary would you find these?” While some guessed correctly the Calgary’s Alberta Boot Company’s showroom, I was surprised others didn’t know it still existed.
Yes, after 30 years in a red brick warehouse on 10th Avenue S.W. the Alberta Boot Company moved to Manchester (50 - 50th Avenue SE to be exact). While not exactly off the beaten path (just a few blocks from Macleod Trail) or hidden gem (you can easily see it from 50th Ave) the Alberta Boot Company, it is easy to forget the fun things to see and do in your own backyard.
I highly recommend if you are visiting Calgary, or if you have visiting family or friends you make time to checkout the Alberta Boot Company and perhaps take home a pair of boots as a souvenir.
Top 10 things you should know about Alberta Boot Company (ABC):
It was founded by Clement Gerwing at the age of 62. It is never too old to launch a new career.
In 2011, ABC made boots for Prince William and Kate when they visited the Calgary Stampede on their Royal Tour. Also they have been making boots for the Stampede Princesses for forever.
ABC was the official western boot of the Calgary Winter Games in 1988 and again for the World Police/Fire Games in 1997.
The Company has been making the world famous Strathcona High-Brown Police Boot for the RCMP since 1999 (there is a pair on display). In fact many police forces across North America rely on ABC to make their police boots - the Black Strathcona Boot is the most popular.
A pair of custom hand-made boots starts at about $350. You get to choose the leather, style and custom stitching; as well it includes a personal guided tour of the factory. FYI. There is no regular factory tour program so if you want a tour you have to buy some boots!
ABC now makes men’s and women’s shoes that are very fashion forward and also come with a tour.
All of ABC’s stitch patterns are named after Alberta towns and cities. One of the most popular patterns is "Edmonton."
There is on average over 5,000 boots in the showroom so you can buy off the shelf. We found a pair from the 1988 Olympics that would be a great collector’s item.
The Company is still a family owned business, with grandson Ben now the General Manager after taking over from father Tim who took over from his father Clement.
And yes they still have the colourful, politically incorrect, hand-painted children’s benches originally made for a shoe store in Bowness.