May 24, 1989
|Cory Bernatt has been
known as the Sandalman for the past seven years. He has
run a leather shop at 193 Harbord St. (at Bathurst) up until
last October when his lease ran out. But, fortunately, he
will be reopening at the same location for the summer (from
June 7 to August 31.)
Cory, 24, has been doing leatherwork since he was six years
old, while living in Florida. He picked up interest in the
craft from his father, who left Toronto in the mid sixties
and opened up a leather shop in Florida.
From that time on, Cory realized his definite interest in
leather and did everything he could to enhance his ability.
After he returned to Toronto, he took a four-year art course
as well as a drafting course at Central Technical School,
to further his skills.
During his schooling, he apprenticed under his father, until
at age 17 he branched off and opened up a leathershop of
his own. Over the past seven years, Cory has taken on many
new challenges which have made him quite an expert in the
field of leathercraft.
These include television movie props, the leather door handles
at the Metro Library (Yonge & Bloor). The craftsman
has also done various projects for such celebrities as Bruce
Cockburn and Scott Hylands (Night Heat). He has done, too,
a multitude of other custom orders and repairs.
Cory has visited Jamaica five times, and on two of his visits
he researched the idea of setting up a program in which
he would teach Jamaicans, who had interest in leather craft,
how to make such items as sandals and other tourist goods
in leather. He also wanted to teach the basic process of
He approached the Jamaican government from Toronto about
his idea: but found the usual red tape which accompanies
such a plan. The idea was well-liked, but the government
was unwilling to fund the project.
According to Cory, "I went down there to set up a sandal
making business, but found that it was more complicated
owing to government restrictions and being non Jamaican,
it was financially impossible to come up with the US $250,000
investment capital required."
Cory mentioned, too, that he went to the island with a Jamaican
national, but he underestimated the connection that Cory
had with many Jamaican people. That got in the way because
the Jamaican national felt he knew what he was doing but
had no idea about the leather business and what it takes
to get such a business going.
"I went to Kingston to various shoe manufacturers,
as well as many leather suppliers to procure all the information
I found out that the feasibility of such a business could
be quite good, if managed by the right person," stated
The leather expert can be contacted at (416) 533-6-335 or