In today’s world of conglomerates and fast fashion it is surprising to learn that there is a Canadian shoe store that has been in business for over a century and is still a family-owned business – that store is Ingledew’s, founded in Vancouver in 1915 by William Wright Ingledew and currently consisting of five locations operated by the founder’s grandson, Bill Ingledew.
Founder William Wright Ingledew, a native of Bronte, Ontario, immigrated to Vancouver in the 1890s and worked at different jobs including another long-running family owned shoe business founded by James Rae (later known as Rae-Son), which operated from 1898 to 1982.
In 1915 Ingledew partnered with Charles McKeen, and opened the McKeen-Ingledew Shoe Co. on March 25, 1915, although Ingledew and McKeen split within a year. In 1921 William’s eldest son Gar joined the business – Gar would eventually become president of the company for more than 50 years.
Over the years, the main store’s location changed from 666 Granville street (1915 – 1925), to 623 Granville street (1925 – 1971) to 577 Granville street (1971 – 1987), to 535 Granville street (1987 – 2014), and is now located at 900 West Hastings. Other locations were added across Vancouver over the years, mostly at malls, as well as into Victoria (in 1964), but an attempt to expand into Seattle in the late 1950s didn’t last when a piling for the Seattle World’s Fair monorail was situated directly in front of their store.
Aside from that one misstep, Ingledew’s has survived the years by adapting to changes in the shoe industry. Although the store now includes a large selection of casual footwear in its stock, the company was famous in the 1950s-80s for its fashionable dress shoes sold under the store label but made by Italian and Spanish companies.