Survival of the “Feetest” in Toronto

On a recent trip to Toronto I was able to get together with a good friend from my undergrad years at McGill University, Katie Reed. We met at her shop, Sole Survivor, in Kensington Market.

Katie, who is 28 years old, has owned and operated this cobbling business for two years. As a young woman, she bucks the cobbler stereotype (in fact, she is the only female cobbler in the Greater Toronto Area). After a B.A. from McGill and teaching jobs in Japan, it certainly wasn’t a career path her friends imagined for her. But like all her undertakings, she has thrown herself into it completely and made it a success.
It has required a lot of hard work and determination. Just finding someone in the GTA to apprentice her was a seemingly insurmountable challenge: she was turned away by all but one of the working cobblers in the region. Now that she is experienced and established in this trade, she is taking on an apprentice of her own (another woman) to pass along her knowledge.
Katie is keeping our favourite shoes in tip-top shape (including finance ministers at budget time!), which can save us precious pennies. She is also keeping many out of landfills, a great way to lessen our footprint (if you’ll pardon the pun).
For more information on her and how she got into cobbling, check out these articles:

Katie also has a blog for here:

Moving to Wyoming!

For the past few months, as many of you know, Doug has been on the job hunt. After 2 ½ years in a Master’s program, he launched into the rollercoaster ride of finding gainful employment “out there” – outside the known world of universityland. There were ups and there were downs. On the one hand he was flown exotic places for interviews (Rossland, BC! Texas! Edmonton!) and taken out for fancy dinners. On the other, there were rude interviewers and weeks spent waiting for the phone to ring or an email message to appear in his inbox.

All that is over! For better or worse, Doug and I have accepted a job offer from Schlumberger (the huge multi-national oil services company I mentioned in the last email). They have approximately 80,000 employees in 80 countries and an annual operating budget of over $20 billion. Doug jumped through all manner of hoops during the 3-month recruiting process. In the end, he was offered an elite position in the company’s Tech & Field program.

This means that Doug and I, for the next 19 months, will be living in Rock Springs, Wyoming where Doug will work as a field engineer! He will divide his time between on-site work at oil rigs and in the local office. As he’s been telling everyone, he’s most excited about wearing a hard hat, steel-toed boots, and blue coveralls. Oh, and driving the big truck 🙂 During those 19 months, he’ll also be periodically going to a training centre for courses – at one point, for about 1-2 months. (I figure that’s when I’ll finish my novel!) After the field portion of the program is done, he’ll apply his experience to developing better technologies in the Edmonton research office.

At this point, we have very little information about where we’ll live and how we’ll move down there. I have – as you can imagine – done a ton of research on Rock Springs. As one of my friends who grew up in the region told me: “It’s not the prettiest or hippest part of Wyoming, but it’s not that bad if you like hanging out with cowboys!” Not the most encouraging start, but after checking out the web and emailing with some locals, I’ve found there’s a nice community of historians and writers I’ll try and join. We’ll also be within striking distance of Salt Lake City (Utah) as well as Denver and Boulder (Colorado). Not to mention all the national parks in the area. At the very least, we’ll have some open spaces and fresh air after living in downtown Toronto this summer!

© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.