Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Sisman Shoes & The T. Sisman Shoe Co. Ltd.

Posted by auroracitizen on April 5, 2010


I’m looking for any Sisman memorabilia that Auroran’s may have, to add to my collection. Old ads, paperwork, shoes, boxes, info, stories, etc. I’m happy to pick up in the area. Please email me – I’m especially interested in stories from people who worked for Sisman’s.

I know that not everyone in Aurora is online, so I’ve placed an ad in the paper too.


Heather Sisman


20 Responses to “Sisman Shoes & The T. Sisman Shoe Co. Ltd.”

  1. Anonymous said

    I well recall my mother walking into the general store in the small town in s/w N.B. I grew up in looking for Sisman Scampers for my youngest brother. They were the toughest shoes she felt we could afford and water puddles were irresistable to him. This would have been in the 50’s.

  2. Blaine said

    Hi there…..this is an old ad so not sure if its still active…….I have a pair of Sisman shoes I purchased for my high school graduation in the mid 70’s…..used once….been dragging them with me since…..time they find a new home…interested in pictures? Thanks

    • Heather said

      Can you help me how to figure out how to reach these people?

      The comments weren’t posted to the blog so it’s probably not just as easy as replying but I know you will see this.

      Thank you!



  3. laura said

    Hi there, Heather,
    I have a pair of new sisman police boots (tag still on them). Yours if you want them (they were my father’s). I am in Bradford.

  4. George Erskine said

    I think its great the way you and perhaps some of your siblings ( responded to a facebook hit of sisman ) are compliling historcial information of your legacy. I aquired a pair of nearly knee high leather lace up boots with a 3 buckle flap on top in nearly unworn condition a number of years ago, they have a pebble grain finish and an inlaid horseshoe style cleat on the heal. On the inside of one it has an embossed logo of Sisman, 1942. I have kept them mostly due to the fact they fit me, but I do not ride motorcycles, they look like something worn by perhaps a motorcycle cop in the 40’s, or perhaps some form
    of military gear. I have resisted the offers for them from some bikers as I knew they would only have them ruined in short order, and they have lasted so long in this condition to trash them on some racetrack was too much so I kept them. If you are indeed collecting these items for some sort of display, I cant think of a better place for these.

    George Erskine
    Columbus Ohio

  5. Sheena Brennan said

    …oops!..just want to say so sorry for all my typos…I should have proof read it all first..but was writing this at my workplace….

  6. Sheena Brennan said

    Hi Heather,
    I worked at Sisman Shoes……when I finished High School back in 1968.
    ……I lived in Newmarket..and took the bus to Aurora each morning,as I had to start my shift at 7:30am.
    I was excited about my first full time job,as I was at a very young age of 17…….and was looking forward to making as much money as i could each day,as the rate of pay was at what was called “Peace Work”
    so the faster we get the work out…the more we would make per day.

    I remember the area where I was working……the soul department…..and Louie Burling was my foreman.
    I had a couple of jobs to do there,but I worked steady..and was quite productive.

    Sisman’s made mens shoes and work boots ,as I can remember,and the soles of the shoes would arrive at my work station in pairs of course..the right and left.
    Thre would be wooden crate -styled boxes that would have 15 pairs of souls..all matched up according to size and left and right foot…there was an order form for each box at the start of each new order..depending how many shoes were in one order for where ever it was heading to.
    Working peace work meant,we had keep ourselves a book of stubs of all the boxes we worked on during that day.
    There would be another piece of paper that was with the order shett..that had tabs that each emplooo woud tear off and add to their book…without these tabs in the book you were given… the tabs fit into a little pocket inside the book ….we needed to have this…as that would regulate the amout of money you received on your pay…….which was every Friday.

    I remember the first job to be done..was the “Buffing” machine……I had to hold the soul very tightly,
    as the buffing machine would easily take it from was like a large grinding wheel…and the I held
    the back end of the sole…where the heal is,,with my right hand..and carelly with my left hand put my hand underneath the sole but grasped the edges with my thumb and fingers.
    Now that was the dangerous part……as there were no safely guards near the buffing was very very easy for the whell to catch on toone of yuoe fingers ..if that happened….it would have ripped your finger open..very nasty.,as there were little spikes on the wheel to help cut into the leather souls.
    The reason for buffing the souls..was so the cement would stick to it better…and it would be more solid on the shoe.
    The danger didn’t seem to bother me at all….as I got rather quick at that job,as wel only buffed the toe part..not the heal….but it was the dust from the leather soul that I didn’t got all over you….and of course,breathing it in too …but again..I carried on.

    After the buffing stage….onto the cementing..which i did too…there were two rollers (like an old fashioned washing machine rollers) and the soul was put between the rollers..buffed side down….and I would catch it on the opposite side…….then take a small brush and make sure all the cement was over to the every edge of the soul..if not it would not stick properly to the uppers..
    We were responsible to fill our machines when they became empty from the liquid cement…and I remember lifting very heavy stainless steel containers…which probably weighed more then I did……(and I was only about 100 lbs)..and we had to lift this container up to our table…(for me waist high) and then tip it over into the machine to fill the cement into it….I liked to try to get a container that was half empty….less weight for me to ty to lift.

    Then with each pair always kept together..left and right….the souls were put on a “drying rack”..which was a long narrow piece of board with big long nails drawn into it..and I would set each pair of souls on those nails on the board to dry the cement……there was 30 souls…or 15 pairs per rack..

    about 15 minutes later….as I usually had a few racks of souls drying…then I would take each rack..15 pairs..and input them into a box….and each order there was an order form in the first box telling us how many pairs were in that particular order.
    Then off my souls would go upstairs…… to have the uppers attached to them……as I had a friend of mine working in that department……I remember the floor lady (supervisor) there was Kitty Evans….

    That was back in 1968…..and my take home pay was usually between $60.00-$80.00 per week..which I thought was awesome!!!
    My shift ended at 430pm..and took the bus home to Newmarket again…..I worked there for about a year.
    …..its been years since I thought about Sisman Shoes…and I enjoyed re-living a time in my life so long ago……..Cheers!!!!…..Sheena Brennan Oshawa Ontario.

    • Heather Sisman said


      Thanks for such a detailed account of what you did at Sisman’s. I really enjoyed reading it. It sounds like it was hard, dirty work.

      I’m definitely interested in any other stories people have!


  7. delores said

    My mother worked at the factory (her first job out of high school) approximately 1940. I remember her saying the leather dust was terrible in that place. Do you have any photos of the factory or staff? Delores

  8. Anonymous said

    I am a decendant of an employee of Sismans. My gr. grandfather, a shoemaker, emigrated from Cornwall in the l850s, settling in Toronto. His son also became a shoemaker (along with studying music well enough to give lessons in piano and organ). He and his family moved to Aurora to work at Sismans in l904 and unfortunately he died the following year of pneumonia – my grandmother and family returned to Toronto. I well remember the sturdy Sisman Scampers my brother wore as a youngster. Would there be any pictures available? Would be interested in reading more about the company.

  9. David M. Bull said

    Hello, my father’s first job was at Sisman Shoe Factory. He struggled through school and eventually dropped out of grade nine at Aurora High School. So my grandfather, who also worked there as a shoe maker, got him a job at the factory.

    This was at the end of the 1950’s. In that day and age there was two pay scales, married man and single man. My dad had natural mechanical ability and in short time he was making married man pay scale.

    Not long after he met my mother on a blind date. She was from Windsor. A couple of years later (1964) they were married and settled in the Aurora area.

    Then the autopact came into being and he was hired on as a sewing machine mechanic on the trim line. at General Motors. There he worked up until he died in 1983. Until recently the room he worked in was titled as the Bullpen.

    During his time at GM he worked his way up into the engineering department. He and his friend who was a tool maker received
    many suggestion awards for their work that had saved the company lots of money over the years.

    Recently I found myself at a Tandy Leather store. I walked in and took a long deep breath. Closed my eyes and remembered the smells in the basement. My father always went back home for the odd leather auction at the shoe factory. We had two industrial sewing machines in our basement. My dad would recover boat and trailer cushions as well as reupholster furniture.

    Today as I write this entry, I have a pair of 5e shoe forms sitting on my book shelf. One of the prize keepsakes of my childhood. I know that they came from Sisman’s. I have also done a little digging on my mother’s side and have recently found out that I have shoemakers on both sides of my family.

  10. Sisman Ads on eBay said

    Hey, Heather!


    (I’ve no connection to the seller)

    • Heather Sisman said

      Thank you! I will check them out. I’m not in the habit of PAYING for memorabilia, simply because there seems to be a lot of it around.

  11. Anonymous said

    Presently on eBay:

  12. Heather Sisman said

    Received a really nice letter from a fellow in Gravenhurst yesterday -a former Aurora citizen. He had lots of info to share. Also received an email today from someone with some shoeboxes for me.

    This is turning in to quite the project 🙂

  13. Heather Sisman said

    David, I will watch for the spring walking tour dates- I know a few people who have participated and it does sound like a lot of fun!

    Thanks for the information! I really do appreciate it.

    I got a call last week from a lady who had some bobbins of thread from the shoe factory for me. I was quite pleased, but it was the story she shared about her mother’s employment at Sismans that held my interest. I love to hear people’s stories.

    • DavidHeard said

      I have an ad that I am going to get to you soon.

      It is amazing and is from 1939.

      I want to present it in a nice way before I send it your way.

  14. Heather Sisman said

    I’ve had two phone calls so far with some very interesting stories. Please do keep them coming. I’m very interested in what people either know first hand, or know from their families.

    • David Heard said


      My Grandfather was a house painter in Aurora just after WWI
      and when things were slow he was able to get work bailing hides into the building.

      My Father also worked there after quitting school (Church Street) and worked there sanding soles.

      He found it to be dirty work so he left and started his apprenticeship as a plumber.

      By the time he finished re-educating himself he had several tickets.
      The trades came handy as he gained employment with The Canadian Forces.
      He was there for over 30 years and became the Chief Civilian Inspector.

      His baby to care for was the Drill Shed at Mosley and Larmont.

      Unfortuanately his job took his life due to asbestos removal.

      My Father loved Aurora so much and its people.

      I also,after struggling in High School got a job at the new location on Edward St.

      I checked the hides for quality control.

      The brutal part was the contract with Police and Military beacuse if one boot was flawed you got the whole order back.

      It was a brutal place to work as it hit 100 degrees some days.

      My Grandfather and Dad said the same thing about the old location.
      Hot and dirty.

      I now again repeat history as I have a great career in the field of treatment of Autism.

      The head office is the old Underhill building on Berczy St.

      I have always said especially when it comes to Autism and people with gifts and challenges;

      “You never judge unless you have walked in their shoes”

      Ironic that Kerries Place is in an old shoe factory.

      Please come on one of our “Step in time” tours of Aurora.

      We do have an amazing past and present if we want to see that through.

      Including Sismans.

      The place was “The sole of Aurora”

      Sorry could not resist.

      I too like my Father wil return to school in the fall to study Social Work.

      I too need to finish the schooling I missed.

      I have so much more to do on this planet.

      One step at a time.

  15. Heather Sisman said

    My email address didn’t come through on the inital post – I can be reached at

    Thank you!

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