Sonja Bata: A legacy of philanthropy and footwear


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Sonja Bata was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, circa 1990.

Patti Gower/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Sonja Bata was born in Switzerland, studied architecture and spent much of her life surrounded by heels and laces.

Her late-husband Thomas Bata ran a global shoe empire, and she amassed her own collection of historic footwear that numbered some 13,000 pieces spanning 4,500 years, the bulk of which would become the foundation of the Bata Shoe Museum, which she started in 1995. It remains the only museum in North America dedicated to historic footwear.

Bata, who once lived along The Bridle Path, was awarded the Order of Canada in 1983. She was also a philanthropist who devoted her time to multiple organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund Canada and Junior Achievement Canada.

Bata passed away February 20 at Toronto Western Hospital. She was 91 years old. 

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