Continuing with our series of suggestions for the best souvenirs to buy around the world, enjoy this selection of treats from Canada.
The Best Souvenirs to Buy in Canada
First Nations Arrow Head
A flint arrowhead, a replica of those used centuries ago by First Nations’ hunters, is my favourite souvenir of travels in Canada. It reminds me of a visit to the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Alberta. My arrow head was gifted to me by William, the interpretative guide who showed me around the fascinating site. I bought him lunch afterwards and was presented with the arrowhead in return.
Canada, as a modern nation state, has existed only since the confederation of the colonies of British North America in 1867. The peoples of the First Nations have, of course, inhabited Canada for much longer. Items such as dreamcatchers, patterned fabrics and handcrafted artwork tend to count as far more popular souvenirs of First Nations’ culture and heritage. But the arrowhead reminds me of a special day trip out from Calgary and the insights into the importance of the bison to First Nations’ people provided by William.
Want one? Head to the shop at the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretative Centre and you can purchase a replica arrowhead for under $5.
The hockey stick is a special gift which represents one of Canada’s favorite sports. Any age can play hockey on the streets, in the field, or on the ice. Buy one for the athlete in your family – you never know, they might be the next Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby.
Hockey sticks come in a variety of colors, materials, sizes and are pretty easy to carry home. Depending on your body, experience, or position on the team, you can find a stick that suits you best. Many sports stores and department stores in Canada sell hockey sticks. Check out shops such as Sport Chek and Canadian Tire, look at hockey brands like Bauer and CCM and do visit Eaton Centre if you are in Toronto. You can also shop online.
The price can be anything from $20 for a clearance stick up to several hundred dollars for a professional stick. If you buy one, you may want to look for a good wood and suitable size, the aim is a sturdy stick that’s also light weight with slight curves.
Our neigbour’s grandkid is an American hockey player with the NHL and when I saw him come home with a hockey stick, I wanted to try the sport, and bought a stick on clearance. Since then, the stick has become a décor item in my house in Vietnam as there is no place to play the sport here. But it’s a very good souvenir to remind me about Canada’s famous sport.
The Niagara Wine Region in Canada is one of the few places in the world that makes ice wine. It’s such a unique wine that it makes for an excellent souvenir. Most wine tours in Niagara on the Lake will include an ice wine tasting, but you should confirm that on your itinerary.
Ice wine is a dessert wine made from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does so the juice is more concentrated. It will typically take 4 to 5 times as many grapes to make ice wine compared with other wines.
Ice wine should be served chilled after dinner. It can be sipped alone or paired with a dessert. Some people even pour it over ice cream. If you like sweet wines you will love it! The best way to choose which ice wine to buy is to taste it. Just be warned, ice wines are not cheap. You should expect to pay at least $30 for a small bottle.
Anisa blogs at Two Traveling Texans.
Indigenous Art, Carving or Sculpture
If you are looking for an authentic souvenir to take back home, consider purchasing a piece of original Indigenous Art like a carving or sculpture. Unknown to some, Canada has a large Indigenous population comprised of three main groups: First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Peoples. Each group has its own distinct history, language, and culture – and this is reflected in the art they create.
A stone sculpture can be purchased in numerous parts of northern Ontario where many First Nations People live. The area is covered by the Canadian Shield, a massive geological area of rock that is exposed from underground. This allows for a variety of rock styles and minerals to be harvested and shaped into many different forms of artwork.
A great place to buy souvenirs if you are driving through Northern Ontario is the French River Trading Post. You’ll find many different sizes and shapes of sculptures at this famous outpost. There aren’t any “knock offs” here – what you see is authentic from the area and created by locals.
Prices will vary greatly depending on the size of the sculpture; a handheld size could be $5 Canadian while larger ones can be hundreds of dollars. Whatever the size, when you buy, be sure to look for any cracks that could cause the sculpture to become weakened over time.
Eric and Lisa blog at Penguin and Pia.
Lumberjack Shirt Or Fleece
I love my red and black checked fleece from Canada. It’s a variation on the classic lumberjack flannel shirt that many locals wear.
Earlier this year I visited Ontario, but it was a particularly cold spring with temperatures well below zero. I had some cold weather gear with me but not enough. I bought my fleece during a road trip around a frozen Lake Superior. The views of the snow-covered scenery were spectacular. My hooded fleece kept me lovely and warm as I kept hopping in and out of the car to photograph every new vista.
You’ll see the shirts and fleeces on sale in many roadside trading stores. Mine wasn’t cheap, costing about £45, but I’m so pleased I decided to splash out. It will always remind me of our holiday in a very chilly and stunningly beautiful Canada covered in snow.
Kathryn blogs at Travel With Kat.
Made from the sap of maple trees, maple syrup is a product that’s indelibly associated with Canada (though it’s produced in the United States too). It was first made by the first nations peoples of North America, and later adopted by Europe settlers. Quebec Province is the world’s largest producer.
Sap from the trees is collected in spring, and boiled to reduce into a thick, concentrated syrup. A strict grading system categorises the syrup, with consumer Grade A syrup divided into Golden, Amber, Dark and Very Dark. (Note: the previous Canadian grading system used Grades 1, 2, and 3). The palest has a delicate taste, the darkest is much stronger in flavour. Processing Grade, darker still, is primarily used in commercial food manufacture.
Maple Syrup is available everywhere, from small farmers markets and specialist food and souvenir shops, to large supermarkets, and even direct from the producer. You can buy it in glass bottles (often made in fun shapes to appeal to tourists), in plastic tubs and in tin cans, these last often being decorated with beautiful traditional artworks.
I always buy the dark and very dark versions, as these are harder to find back home in the UK, and I love the intensity of flavour they possess. It’s also worth looking out for maple syrup candies and maple syrup sugar, both made from maple syrup and excellent souvenirs or gifts.
Me, here at Kavey Eats. Find me on Instagram.
RCMP Plush Toy
RCMP stands for Royal Canadian Mounted Police. An RCMP plush toy or keychain is a quite common but useful souvenir that many travellers get on their trip to Canada. I have had mine since 2015, and I use it as a key and USB flash disk holder.
I got mine from Canada. You can buy these at souvenir shops, malls, and of course at the airport. You could get one online but I highly suggest you buy while you are in Canada. Mine is super durable, I believe it’s the best place to get a high-quality one. Choose between a Canadian black bear, moose, and other wild animals that can only be found in Canada. The starting price is about $25, you can find cheaper ones but it might be not a very good quality.
What I love about this souvenir is that everytime a Canadian sees it, we instantly connect and have something to talk about, it’s a great icebreaker.
The west coast of Canada is known for its wild salmon. Whilst you can’t take fresh salmon on the plane back home with you, you can still take Pacific salmon back with you in the form of salmon jerky.
Salmon jerky might not sound as appealing as your standard jerky but I promise it’s not as fishy as you think. You can find it in your usual jerky packaging but it also comes in great souvenir wooden boxes.
Salmon jerky is available all over Vancouver from souvenir shops to supermarkets. I’d recommend getting it in a supermarket or drug store since you’ll pay way less. Make sure you get some labelled as from BC (British Columbia) to ensure it’s a true Canadian souvenir..
When it comes to picking which salmon jerky to try, the Whole Catch salmon jerky from Whole Foods is a safe bet, as is Soo Jerky. Stick to original to start or try the other flavours if you’re feeling more adventurous.
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Find more of my posts on the best souvenirs to buy around the world.
With many thanks to all my contributors for helping me to compile this guide to the best souvenirs to buy in the United States of America. All images are by the authors of the relevant entry, unless credited otherwise.