Artisans in Canada produce so much more than small-batch whiskey, maple syrup and handcrafted furniture. Their food, beauty and home items are works of art, and there’s no better place to purchase a token of appreciation for a socially conscious giftee than a local artisan’s boutique. Buying local not only means you’re ensuring your money stays within your community’s economy, but it’s also usually better for the planet, with less mileage travelled and less unnecessary packaging. There are thousands of shops across Canada that support local and sell handmade products that you can feel good about gifting, from lavender honey, to handcrafted wool blankets, to goat’s milk hand lotion and beyond.
Here’s a little local love from coast to coast to get you started.
Made in Canada Store
3-103 King Street West, Dundas, Ont.
The name of this shop in a tiny town at the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment says it all. They stock crafts, artwork and housewares from coast to coast. The store’s chosen artisans draw inspiration from Canada’s landscape, use locally sourced materials and keep environmental sustainability at the forefront. Choose from gorgeous hand-painted ceramic mugs, cedarwood soaps, and hand-turned Ontario maple bowls that look as good as a salad dish on the dinner table as they do as artwork on the coffee table.
Made You Look
1338 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ont.
Established in 2001, this is the Big Smoke’s first collective jewellery studio. The studio features a rotating crew of about 20 professional designers who work on-site. They provide custom designs, alterations, revamps, personal engravings and more. The shop itself offers an enormous collection of jewellery from over 100 Torontonian artists, from the quirky (pendant in the shape of a caffeine molecule) to the refined (hand-carved, ethically sourced 14k diamond studs).
350 rue Saint-Paul, Old Montreal, Que.
Housed in a restored 1847 market building, this market is recognized as one of Canada’s 10 finest heritage buildings. It’s home to 15 boutiques featuring high-quality, made-in-Quebec items, from arts and crafts, to coats, to jewellery, to home goods and beyond. Since the marché is also home to the Conseil des métiers d'art du Québec (Quebec Craft Council), you can be sure to find something special, sentimental, and well-made.
Giving Gifts & Company
4570 Main Street (Main and 30th), Vancouver, B.C.
Celebrating local artists who are committed to living their dreams, Giving Gifts is all-in on supporting the creative community of Vancouver. The five-room co-operative houses works from more than 50 local artisans. Anything you can dream of, they have: baby care, body care, teas and sweet treats, clothing, cards, books—you name it. Their website features goods from more than 100 local artists, as well as international brands that do good things for the world.
Winnipeg Trading Post
1128 Main Street, Winnipeg, Man.
This shop specializes in Aboriginal handicraft supplies, like leather, feathers, jingle cones, sinew, beads, cabochons, looms, and tools for artists who wish to create their own pieces. They also offer a stunning variety of beaded and woven handcrafted items, like intricate butterfly pins and lasered leather key ring tags. Best of all, while the beadwork is done by local artisans throughout the province of Manitoba, mukluks and gauntlets are made on-site. Can you get more local than that?
Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia
5635 Spring Garden Rd., Halifax, N.S.
This shop has been a Nova Scotian staple since 1978, and it focuses on artwork and crafts specifically from the Atlantic region. The store is family-owned and operated, and every single one of its offerings are made by local east-coast artisans. Handcrafts are an important part of the area’s heritage, and this shop is no exception: thrown stoneware mugs, pewter cheese knives or a heavenly ‘Halifax’ scented candle with notes of grapefruit and lemon are good places to start.
Inkwell Modern Handmade
2011 Brunswick Street, Halifax, N.S.
Stationery is the name of the game at this light and airy storefront in downtown Halifax. It stocks products from more than 200 independent artists from Nova Scotia and across Canada, with a strong focus on paper and stationery staples. They also offer housewares, ceramics, textiles, apothecary products, and more—while you’re there, consider picking up one of their adorable birthday cards (think: green peas with ‘ha-pea birthday!’, a grumpy cake topped with candles ‘Blow me’, or wildflowers painted in the shape of Cape Breton or British Columbia).
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