My Shoes and I

Please visit the link below to read the French version of 'MY SHOES AND I" an article written about Ghyslain Anctil by Paul Therrien


English Version of Online Article:

For the past 26 years, Ghyslain Anctil has been the resident cobbler at Place-Ville-Marie. After so many years spent pampering his clients' shoes, it's not surprising that the owner of the small Moneysworth & Best shop has so many stories to tell…

At a time when people would rather replace items than fix them, taking your shoes to the cobbler conjures up images of days gone by and of life in a quaint village; nostalgia for a time when the pace of life was slower; when you took the time to talk to the shopkeeper, who knew you by name.  It's comforting to be able to reconnect with this cozy past if even for a few minutes in the basement of this cross-shaped skyscraper, which marked Quebec's entry into the modern era at the start of the 1960s. Behind his counter, wearing the traditional cobbler's apron and with glasses sitting on the tip of his nose, Ghyslain Anctil welcomes each client with a radiant smile and a contagious good mood. He knows his clients so well that he wouldn't be out of place sitting down to dinner in their homes. In this small family business, his son Pierre-Marc works with him full time. His daughter Audrey gives him a hand during the busy season, from Thanksgiving to the holidays. "It's very, very kind of her to help me out," he says, looking at her tenderly.

Davis, a Peruvian, was 18 when he came into Ghyslain Anctil's life. Having worked 14 years by his side, the assistant cobbler is now like a son to him. Davis is the one who shines shoes for clients who sit on one of two raised chairs in front of the shop. "When I first moved into this location," recalls Ghyslain Anctil, "Place-Ville-Marie didn't want us to shine shoes here because it wasn't 'elegant,' as they said." One of his good clients wrote a letter to the authorities and quickly fixed the problem. "So much is said in these chairs," says the cobbler. "We don't repeat anything, but we hear everything." In 5 minutes, just enough time to shine a pair of shoes, important conversations often take place between the two clients sharing the small platform. Former prime ministers come to sit here, most notably Brian Mulroney, "a very large man, physically imposing, with great poise. He is very friendly, and as soon as he sits down, a dozen people gather around to talk to him." Both Daniel and Pierre-Marc Johnson are also regular clients, and Ghyslain Anctil's son even wonders if he was named after the latter, who was premier when he was born.

It would be impossible to write down all the colourful stories that this happy cobbler, an excellent storyteller, has to share. Your best bet is to go for a visit and hear them yourself. He's ready to greet you each and every day from 7 a.m.

Moneysworth & Best
1 Place-Ville-Marie
514 398-9057