Canadian Fashion Connection – Dayton Boots

1940s illustration of Dayton boots with caulked (spiked) soles

Dayton Boots was established in 1946 by C. H. (Charlie) Wohlford. Before becoming the manager of The Lumberman’s Social Club at 64 East Hastings street in Vancouver, Charlie had worked for Caterpillar Tractor Company, and as a young man had learned the craft of shoemaking.

During the Second World War (1939-1946), Wohlford developed a waterproofing dressing for logger’s boots he called OK Oil Watertight Compound. He also repaired the logger’s boots who came into his club, which lead to Charlie founding the Dayton Boot Company in 1946. The name was reportedly chosen for being easy to say and remember, unlike Wohlford. Charlie’s son Wayne joined the business and the first Dayton Boots hit the market in May 1947.

His initial product was a nailed soled logging boot style called ‘Dayton 64’, after the address of the Lumberman’s Social Club. Dayton boots quickly became popular with loggers, and without the caulked (spiked) soles, the style also became popular with construction workers, oil riggers, longshoremen, police and firemen.

Original 1949 Dayton neon sign

By 1962, Wohlford was using Goodyear welted soles (a stitched rather than nailed style of sole) to make a Western (cowboy) boot that eliminated inside seams on the leg of the boot to reduce chafing. ‘Black Beauty’ double-soled motorcycle boots with rubber tread soles were introduced in 1965. In the 1970s, Dayton purchased the rights to manufacture Pierre Paris & Sons boots – his rival Vancouver bootmaker established in 1907. In the 1980s and 1990s, women’s sizes were added to Dayton’s stock when the punk scene made heavy-soled footwear a hip fashion style.

The company is still in business, and still manufacturing in Vancouver.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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