Heading to Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal this summer? Are you looking for a one-of-a-kind souvenir to bring back from your travels? Read on for the inside scoop on local products and distinctive boutiques worth leaving home for.
Circle Craft, Vancouver
For four decades, the Circle Craft Cooperative Association has been promoting and selling the works of British Columbia artists. Its gallery and store on Granville Island showcases mixed media, fibre, glass, metal, paper and ceramic pieces by more than 180 artists. The store also hosts popular Christmas and summer markets elsewhere in town.
The Regional Assembly of Text, Vancouver
You’ve likely never seen a store quite like this (unless you’ve visited its sister shop in Victoria). Founded in 2005 by two Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design grads, Brandy Fedoruk and Rebecca Dolen, the shop offers just about everything a lover of script, fonts and type could imagine, including journals, chalkboards and stationery. You can even pen a heartfelt missive home at the monthly letter-writing club. assemblyoftext.com
The Quirky Art Café, Edmonton
Tired of coming out of your local drive-through with nothing but a cardboard cup? At the Quirky Art Café -- part coffee shop, part art studio -- get your caricature done while you enjoy your muffin and a cup of joe. Or grab an art book from the library shelves along with some art supplies, and create your own masterpiece.
Maggie Walt Design, Edmonton
When you think of Edmonton, “exotic Asian fabrics” might not be the first thing that springs to mind. But that’s what local designer Maggie Walt uses to create her bias-cut dresses, flowing pants and other feminine pieces. She also designs jewellery, scarves and shawls, all available in her boutique in the Oliver neighbourhood, just west of downtown.
Old Toronto Beer Tour, Toronto
Oliver Dawson knows both his city and his beers inside out. Sign up for one of his Saturday afternoon bus tours and sample the goods at several breweries -- including Steam Whistle, Mill Street and Amsterdam -- and the Six Pints Specialty Beer Company Beer Academy. At each stop, you can buy beer to bring home. Just make sure to stay alert enough to follow Dawson’s informative commentary on Fort York, Corktown and other historic sites.
Anybody can take a picture of the CN Tower or from the CN Tower. But how many come home with a picture and a video of themselves on the CN Tower? You can, if you sign up for EdgeWalk. You’ll spend half an hour or so strolling around a 1.5-metre-wide catwalk atop the tower’s restaurant, 356 metres (1,168 feet) above the ground. You’ll be tethered to an overhead rail with two sturdy cables, but still, it’s not for the faint of heart.
Maple syrup, Ottawa and Lanark County
There’s a sugar shack within Ottawa’s city limits (at Richelieu Park) and plenty of places to buy maple syrup. But to truly immerse yourself in all things maple, take a scenic drive an hour west of the city to Lanark County, which bills itself as the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario. Check out the maple chocolates at Village Treats in Balderson, or pick up maple body butter or bath salts at Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush in Pakenham.
Royal Canadian Mint, Ottawa
Do your Christmas shopping early this year. Is there a newborn in the family? Pick up a commemorative quarter (the design features two tiny footprints instead of the usual moose) at the Royal Canadian Mint’s gift shop. Or perhaps your art-loving mom would like a silver coin featuring a work by one of the Group of Seven?
Bagels and smoked meat, Montreal
Ask any two Montrealers where to find the city’s best bagels and get ready for a heated debate. Two bagel shops’ names, however, are likely to crop up repeatedly: Saint-Viateur and Fairmount. In the name of scientific inquiry, why not try both? For the quintessential Montreal meal, top your bagel with smoked meat from Schwartz’s Deli.
Galerie Zone Orange, Montreal
This whimsical shop in Old Montreal features clothing, accessories, jewellery, ceramics, toys and more, largely by local artists and designers. Look for adorable stuffed animals by Delyla, purses made from recycled car upholstery by Bagnole, and deceptively simple separates by Catherine Métivier and Anne-Marie Laflamme of atelier b.
Also on HuffPost