Sonja Bata

Sonja I. Bata (or Sonja Baťová; née Wettstein) (November 8, 1926 – February 20, 2018) was a Swiss Canadian business woman, philanthropist, and museum founder,[1] who trained as an architect.[2][3]

Sonja I. Bata
Sonja Wettstein

(1926-11-08)8 November 1926
Zurich, Switzerland
Died20 February 2018(2018-02-20) (aged 91)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Other namesSonja Baťová
OccupationBusinesswoman, philanthropist, collector and museum founder
Spouse(s)Thomas J. Bata
RelativesTomáš Baťa (father-in-law)


She left her architecture studies after her marriage to Thomas J. Bata of Bata Shoes and moved to Toronto in 1946, befriending those in the architecture community: Raymond Moriyama designed the Bata Shoe Museum while John Cresswell Parkin designed the impressive Don Mills headquarters of Bata Shoes and the family's country house in Batawa.[4] Though she had earlier envisioned herself to become a great architect, she set her designs on improving the Bata Shoe company.[5]

Also in the 1940s, she began collecting shoes and studying their history. In 1979, she endowed the Bata Shoe Museum Foundation. The Bata Shoe Museum, established in 1995, is the world's largest shoe museum,[6] and the core collection is attributed to Bata.[7] She was the museum's chairperson.[8]

Bata was also the chair of the National Design Council (1970s).[9] She helped establish the Toronto French School, served as director the Art Gallery of Ontario, sat on the boards of Alcan and Canada Trustco (now TD Canada Trust), affiliated with the World Wildlife Fund,[10] and became an Honorary Captain in the RCN and sponsor of HMCS Ottawa.[1]

She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1983. She died at her home in Toronto on 20 February 2018, outliving her husband for nine years.

Personal life

She had four children.[11] Her father-in-law is Tomáš Baťa, the founder of Bata Shoes. [12]



  1. Rezac 2005, p. 139.
  2. "Sonja I. Bata 8 nov 1926 - Google Search". Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  3. "Sonja Bata was a guiding force of the Bata shoe enterprise". Retrieved 24 October 2018 via The Globe and Mail.
  4. LeBlanc, Dave (27 August 2009). "The Architourist - Before modern turned retro". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  5. Bata & Sinclair 1990, p. 132.
  6. DeMello 2009, p. 32.
  7. Grzeskowiak 2008, p. 48.
  8. Benstock & Ferriss 2001, p. 35.
  9. Bata & Sinclair 1990, p. 138.
  10. Bata & Sinclair 1990, p. 139.
  11. Bata & Sinclair 1990, p. 134.
  12. "Sonja Bata, founder of Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, remembered for passion, generosity - CBC News". Retrieved 24 October 2018.


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