What do you call that in Ontario? Or: I guess I was away too long

Cordonnerie 1

I no longer remember what one calls this kind of place in Ontario, people, but – I need to find one!

Because of a broken leather strap on a purse that I like to use, I am in need of a fairly common service. I have two problems in relation to this situation: one, I don’t know whether that service is offered here in the Queensborough area; and two, I can’t remember what one calls such a service around here!

The service I need is one of those offered at a cordonnerie, as it is called in Quebec – and in France. A cordonnerie is the place you go to get copies of keys made, or sometimes to get skates sharpened, and most especially to get leather repairs done – primarily shoe repairs (worn-down heels replaced, etc.), but also to get leather straps on purses mended. It’s kind of handy to have a single word to describe a place that offers all those services, n’est-ce pas?

But is there a single word in English? People, I can’t remember! Apparently I have been away from English-speaking Canada for a little too long. All I can come up with is “shoe-repair place,” but that doesn’t seem terribly elegant, and it’s not a compact single word. I suppose there’s always “cobbler,” but who says that anymore?

Cordonnerie 2

It doesn’t have to look this elegant, but I sure could use one of these.

I have to say that while French is generally a fair bit more long-winded than English, there are times when it is usefully concise – which is probably why I picked up cordonnerie during the 16 years I lived in Montreal, and completely forgot its English-Ontario equivalent. The same is true for dépanneur, a highly useful Quebec-French word for a convenience store. Everyone in Quebec, whether francophone, anglophone or allophone, calls convenience stores dépanneurs – or quite commonly the short form, dep, which is even easier and quicker to say. It’s been hard to get use to the much more unwieldy “convenience store” now that I’m back in Ontario.

Anyway, aside from what the place is called (though if you can help me out with that, I’ll be grateful), can anyone tell me whether I can find a cordonnerie, or its Hastings County equivalent, in Madoc or Tweed?

10 thoughts on “What do you call that in Ontario? Or: I guess I was away too long

  1. It is a shoe maker! There is one in Belleville in a little plaza across from the Royal Bank on North Front Street near Harvey’s Restaurant. It is n the East Side .He advertises of repairing leather. Nancy Lou

  2. Keep your spats on. The elegant but endangered English word “cordwainer” is surely etymologically linked to cordonnier, cordovan, Chrysler Cordoba … combined with Nancy Lou’s advice, you have what you need:

  3. I’ve had the handle on a treasured old briefcase repaired at the shop that Nancy Lou mentions. They are very accomodating.

  4. Actually, the English term would be ‘Cordwainer’ – from the Frenhc, but more commonly known as a ‘Shoemaker’.

  5. J’adore l’anecdote ! Dans mon petit dictionnaire, il est écrit “shoe repairer” pour cordonnier et “shoe repair shop” pour cordonnerie. Comme quoi il ne faut pas toujours se fier aux dictionnaires… Bonne journée chère Katherine !

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