Dayton Boots Co Ltd The
By Michelle Hopkins

Vancouver-built boots

Born and raised in Vancouver, Hall Risk vividly recalls getting his "ass kicked" in high school by a pair of Dayton Boots. Despite this not-so-fond memory,  Hall still gets nostalgic talking about the iconic company.

Dayton Boots was founded in 1946 by Charlie Wohlford, who it seems had quite the knack for fixing his logging buddies' boots. Soon, these same guys were bugging him to actually make boots for them. Thus, a Vancouver legend was born.

Hall grew up in Dayton Boots. Both his father and grandfather wore Dayton caulks (spike-soil logging boots). “No one else makes boots like this; they're old school and incredibly well-made right here in East Vancouver,” he says with pride. “Charlie’s footwear helped build this province.”

In 2012, Hall came to the East Van shop to get a pair of his beloved boots fixed. When the previous owner told him he was ready to retire, Hall took that as a sign and decided to purchase the business.

“I mean, this is Dayton Boots!” says Hall, as if to say ‘come on, who wouldn’t buy it if they could?’ “I was actually looking to invest in a Vancouver company, so this was the perfect opportunity.”

No one else makes boots like this; they're old school and incredibly well-made right here in East Vancouver. - Hall Risk, owner
Dayton Boots owner Hall Risk took over the iconic Vancouver footwear shop in 2012.
Dayton Boots owner Hall Risk took over the iconic Vancouver footwear brand in 2012.

Footwear with a colourful history

Although Dayton Boots originally started with rugged loggers and miners, it wasn’t long before bikers realized how great the boots were. “In the early 60s, tough bikers would wear their Black Beauties boots in local drinking establishments around town, like the Waldorf, and found them quite good for kicking biker gang rivals," quips the footwear brand's director of sales Michelle Meijer. "Eventually Dayton Boots were banned from bars.”

Chunky Woodward was another devoted fan; the prominent local businessman used to wear his Dayton Boots religiously. “In 1961, Chunky Woodward came in and helped design the original Black Beauty for his ranch hands at Douglas Lake,” says Hall. “Chunky was the one responsible for our western boot not having an inside seam.  He didn't want the inside of his legs to get chafed because of the seam. It’s a true riding boot.”

Not just a local sensation, the Vancouver footwear brand has a cult-like following in the music industry and has also been spotted on a number of Hollywood stars, including Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Cindy Crawford, Sharon Stone, Kurt Russell, Harry Connick Jr. and John Travolta.

Each pair of Dayton Boots is handcrafted in East Vancouver.
Each pair of Dayton Boots is handcrafted in East Vancouver. Photo courtesy of Dayton Boots

Hand-crafted custom boots and shoes

Approximately 100 pairs of Dayton Boots are made each week in Vancouver before being shipped all over the world.  Each boot is handcrafted on site at the East Van showroom, and comes with a lifetime warranty. Because the boots and shoes are custom built with premium leather through a 230-step process, it takes roughly 10 to 12 weeks to make them.

From the badass bikers and blue collar workers, to businessmen and movie stars, the coveted Dayton Boots brand has a wide-ranging appeal. "We make boots for a number of the Lower Mainland's police and fire departments," says Hall proudly. "The demographic range for our boots really is incredible."

Dayton Boots specializes in high-quality, hand-crafted footwear for men and women.
Dayton Boots specializes in high-quality, hand-crafted footwear for men and women. Photo courtesy of Dayton Boots
The Dayton Boots showroom is located in East Vancouver on East Hastings and Nanaimo.
The Dayton Boots showroom is located in East Vancouver on East Hastings and Nanaimo.
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