The Best Souvenirs to Get in Canada: Top Picks for Memorable Gifts
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Our family loves Canada! There is so much to explore, so many beautiful cities and gorgeous vistas. If you haven’t added Canada to your bucket list, you should now!
Now since I have convinced you to go to Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary or St. John, here are some things you will want to pick up along the way.
Souvenirs are the perfect way to remember a trip and a great way to add some unique flair to your home decor.
What should you get as a souvenir in Canada?
The first essential item to consider is maple syrup, a deliciously sweet and versatile product that has become synonymous with Canada. Sourced from the country’s vast maple forests, it’s a staple in Canadian cuisine. Aside from syrup, there’s also maple butter, candy, and cookies that make for perfect gifts or additions to your pantry.
You could also get an authentic piece of First Nation (the Canadian word for Indigenous people) art and crafts. These authentic pieces, whether they’re dream catchers, totem poles, or hand-carved soapstone sculptures, not only showcase the country’s rich history but also support local Indigenous artisans. So while discovering the sights and sounds of Canada, take note of the diverse souvenirs available – your friends, family, and future self will thank you.
Regional Specialty Souvenirs in Canada
In British Columbia, visitors can find unique souvenirs inspired by the province’s beautiful landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Indigenous artwork, such as carved totems and prints, is a popular choice. These can be found at local galleries and shops throughout the region. Additionally, BC is known for its wine production, particularly the Okanagan Valley. A bottle of local wine makes for a delicious and memorable souvenir.
Alberta is renowned for its cowboy culture and picturesque mountain landscapes. Souvenirs that reflect these characteristics are sought after by visitors. Traditional cowboy hats and handcrafted leather goods, like belts and wallets, are popular choices. Additionally, the province’s famous Banff region is known for its mineral-rich hot springs, making locally made bath salts and soaps ideal gifts.
Ontario is a diverse province, offering a wide array of memorable souvenirs. In the bustling city of Toronto, visitors can find unique local fashion and artisanal goods at markets like the Distillery District. Or buy a signature Tim Horton’s red cup to remember some delicious coffee and donuts.
For those exploring the iconic Niagara Falls, maple products such as syrup and candy are a must-try. Another regional specialty is ice wine, made from grapes harvested after a frost.
Quebec is a province steeped in history and European charm, making it the perfect place to find unique souvenirs. Visitors can indulge in delicious treats like maple sugar pie or local cheeses, or bring home handcrafted items such as pottery, ceramics, or woodcarvings. Locally-made woolen mittens and scarves are also popular, especially for those visiting the picturesque Quebec City during the winter months.
The Maritime Provinces – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador – boast a rich seafaring tradition, with many souvenirs reflecting this coastal heritage. Popular choices include hand-knit woolen sweaters and fishermen’s hats, as well as locally-made preserves, like blueberry jam and dulse (sun-dried seaweed). Sea glass jewelry or handcrafted wooden items, like bowls or cutting boards, also make for great souvenirs.
First Nations Art and Crafts
Inuit Soapstone Carvings
Inuit soapstone carvings are unique pieces of art that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Canada’s indigenous peoples. They are handcrafted from naturally occurring soapstone, found in the Arctic regions of the country. Carvings can vary in size and form, with common themes including animals, people, and traditional Inuit symbols.
These carvings have a smooth texture and feature intricate details. They make wonderful gifts, as they represent a traditional craft passed down through generations. You can find these beautiful sculptures in galleries, souvenir shops, and various cultural centers across the country.
If you find something you like, get it right away as they are all one of a kind.
Haida art is native to the Haida people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Known for its bold design and striking imagery, it often tells a story of the people’s connection with nature and spiritual beliefs. Haida art can be found in various mediums such as wood carvings, masks, totem poles, and paintings.
Popular Haida souvenirs include:
- Decorative masks
- Totem pole replicas
- Wood carvings
Haida art pieces can be purchased from art galleries, gift shops, and online stores. They serve as a stunning reminder of Canada’s indigenous heritage and the importance of preserving First Nations’ culture.
If you visit Vancouver you will fid Haida art at every gallery as well as tourist shops.
Ojibwe Dream Catchers
Dream catchers are among the most iconic symbols of indigenous culture in Canada. They originate from the Ojibwe tribe and are intended to protect individuals from bad dreams while allowing positive dreams to flow through. It’s believed that the web-like structure catches negative dreams, which then disappear with the morning sun.
Ojibwe dream catchers are crafted with a circular frame made from wood or metal. Natural materials such as wood, leather, and feathers are used to create the intricate webbing and adornments. They come in various sizes and designs, making them a versatile gift option.
You can find dream catchers in many souvenir shops, online stores, and even art galleries. They are not only symbolic of First Nations culture but also said to promote good energy and positive dreams, making them a thoughtful and meaningful souvenir from Canada.
Maple Syrup and Food Items
Pure Maple Syrup
One of the most popular souvenirs to bring back from Canada is pure maple syrup. Canada is the world’s leading producer of maple syrup, accounting for 71% of the global market. Quebec, in particular, produces vast amounts of this delicious, amber liquid. When purchasing maple syrup, it’s essential to look for bottles marked with “100% pure maple syrup,” ensuring that it is made solely from maple tree sap.
In addition to pure maple syrup, maple candies are a delightful treat and fantastic souvenir. These sweets come in various shapes and sizes, but the iconic maple leaf shape is a favorite. Made through a process that involves heating the syrup, the sugar is then allowed to crystallize, creating a delicate, melt-in-your-mouth confection.
Another must-try food item from Canada is ice wine. Produced from grapes that have been frozen on the vine, ice wine is a delightful dessert wine with a unique, concentrated sweetness. While ice wine can be found in other wine-producing countries, Canada is known for its exceptional quality, primarily due to its colder climate. Some popular ice wine varieties include Vidal, Riesling, and Cabernet Franc.
Remember to look for high-quality products when purchasing these Canadian souvenirs. Your taste buds will thank you, and they will serve as a sweet reminder of your visit to this beautiful country.
If you are lucky enough to visit British Colombia you are in for a delicious treat! Smoked Salmon is made fresh from the days catch off the shores of B.C. Smoked Salmon can be cold or hot smoked creating different textures and flavors.
Whichever one you choose you are in luck and so are the friends you are bringing it home to for.
A trip to Canada would not be complete without picking up a hockey jersey. Hockey is a big part of Canadian culture, and wearing a jersey from a favorite NHL team, like the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadiens, can make for a great souvenir. Many sports stores across Canada sell authentic and replica jerseys, giving visitors plenty of options for finding the perfect one.
Roots is a popular Canadian clothing brand that offers a range of apparel, such as sweatshirts, t-shirts, and accessories. Their garments often feature Canadian symbols like the maple leaf and the beaver, making them an excellent memento of a trip to Canada. Known for their high-quality materials and craftsmanship, Roots clothing is comfortable, durable, and fashionable.
Hudson Bay Blankets
Hudson’s Bay blankets are a Canadian icon. Made of pure wool, these blankets are renowned for their warmth, softness, and vibrant striped patterns. They are available in various sizes, from throws to king-sized bedding, and can be found at Hudson’s Bay Company stores across the country.
A Hudson’s Bay blanket is not only a cozy addition to any home, but it also carries a rich history, making it a special Canadian keepsake.
A Canadian Toque
In addition to being a practical and useful item, especially during the cold winter months. A toque is a type of hat that covers the head and ears, providing warmth and protection from the elements.
It is a symbol of Canadian culture and identity. The toque is a popular accessory in Canada and is often associated with Canadian winter sports, such as hockey and skiing.
Whatever you do, don’t call it a beanie or a hat!
Royal Canadian Mint Coins
Collectors and travelers alike can appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of coins from the Royal Canadian Mint. These coins come in various denominations and designs, depicting scenes of Canadian wildlife, historical events, or iconic Canadian symbols. They are available in different materials like gold, silver, and special edition colored coins. Some popular options include:
- Commemorative circulation coins
- Lunar Year coins
- Silver maple leaf coins
Purchasing these coins directly from the Royal Canadian Mint or authorized dealers ensures authenticity and quality.
Canadian stamps provide a small window into the nation’s rich history, culture, and natural beauty. Many collectors enjoy seeking out rare stamps or themed collections, such as:
- Canada Post’s annual flower series
- Stamps depicting famous Canadian artists and their works
- Stamps that honor Canada’s Indigenous culture
Stamp enthusiasts can browse through Canada’s National Post Office website, local post offices, or specialized philatelic shops to find the perfect stamps for their collection.
Vintage CN Rail Merchandise
The Canadian National Railway (CN Rail) has a storied past, and vintage merchandise from this iconic company makes for great souvenirs. Collectors can find an array of items, such as:
- Old railway maps and timetables
- Uniforms, badges, and other memorabilia
- Vintage advertisements and posters
There’s no shortage of online retailers and brick-and-mortar antique stores that specialize in vintage CN Rail merchandise. For the best deals and the widest selection, consider doing your shopping at flea markets, estate sales, or specialty train shows.
Canadian Souvenir Shopping Tips
When visiting Canada, it’s essential to support local businesses and artisans to find unique and authentic items. Look for independent boutiques, markets, and cultural centers to discover handmade crafts, artwork, and food products. Shopping local ensures you take home a piece of Canadian culture while supporting the local economy.
Customs and Duty Regulations
Before leaving Canada, it’s essential to understand the rules concerning customs and import regulations for your home country. Each country has different limitations on allowable items and taxable amounts. Some key points:
- Canada has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) on most items, but visitors may be eligible for a refund.
- Keep all purchase receipts and packaging for declaration.
- Familiarize yourself with restricted items (e.g., certain food products, wildlife items, cultural artifacts).
By following these tips, remember to support local businesses, be polite and considerate when bargaining, and adhere to customs regulations to ensure a positive and enjoyable souvenir shopping experience in Canada.
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