When it comes to knowing what to bring home from your holiday in Canada, do you know the best souvenirs from Canada?
As a frequent traveler and an enthusiastic shopper, I know it can be difficult to figure out what your family and friends will like and appreciate from Canada. Sure, everyone knows about the things that Canada is known for, like making the best maple syrup but what about the lesser-known but equally great souvenirs of Canada?
As a life-long Canadian I know the best Canadian gifts you can bring home. I can separate the great from the shoddy to ensure that the souvenirs in Canada that you purchase are not only good souvenirs, but will be appreciated and loved by you or the lucky person you give them to.
Remember your holiday in Canada with great Canadian souvenirs – and don’t forget to come back soon!
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Best Gifts From Canada – Stereotypical Canadian Things
This blanket is made by the oldest company in North America, the Hudson’s Bay Company. Dating from 1670 as a fur trading business, the iconic Hudson’s Bay blanket was first manufactured in 1779! This durable and warm blanket was a prized possession of fur traders, miners and prospectors. It was also very popular with the Indigenous population as it provided superb insulation in the cold winter months. The blankets were used as a bed covering as well as a winter coat.
The Hudson’s Bay blanket is known for its traditional stripes of colour but also for its “points”, a series of thin black lines just above the lower stripes. The points are meant to indicate the exact size of the blanket: the more points, the bigger the blanket. Hudson’s Bay blankets can be found in millions of Canadian households, with many having been passed down from earlier generations.
When considering what to buy in Canada, a real Hudson’s Bay blanket is a truly Canadian souvenir.
Best souvenir for: Your Mom or favourite Aunt.
Hudson’s Bay Colour Stripes Souvenirs
If you find the price a bit startling for a Hudson’s Bay blanket, you can still buy items with the distinctive Hudson’s Bay stripes.
This cozy fleece throw is a great alternative to the traditional colour stripes Hudson Bay blanket. Useful for cold Canadian nights and for cozying up in front of a roaring fire. The carrying handle is very useful when using for picnics or when attending an outdoor sports event. One of the cool souvenirs from Canada.
Best for: Your sister or cousin who’s always cold
A very useful item for carrying your other Canadian souvenirs! This tote bag is quite thick and durable and has a wide bottom. This is a great complement to your travel purse.
Best for: Yourself!
I couldn’t write a guide to the best gifts from Canada without including maple syrup!
Made from the sap of the sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees, maple syrup is a typical Canadian food and one of the great things to buy in Canada. The province of Quebec is the largest producer of maple syrup and produces 70% of the world’s output. Maple syrup is graded according to its density and translucency. To be labelled as maple syrup in Canada, it must be made entirely from maple sap and be at least 66% sugar.
Beware of the “maple-flavoured” syrups available. These are not real maple syrups!
Maple syrup can be golden, amber, dark or very dark. The darker the colour, the more maple flavour it has. I like dark maple syrup.
Indigenous peoples are known to have produced maple syrup and maple sugar long before the arrival of Europeans.
I love that the leaf of the sugar maple forms the motif of the Canadian flag 🙂 This is great Canadian stuff.
Best for: Your friend who always orders pancakes or waffles for breakfast
One of the most popular books in Canadian history, this beloved story of a red-headed orphan in Prince Edward Island is a much-loved classic.
Written in 1908, the story is about Anne, an unfortunate orphan who is mistakenly adopted by Matthew & Marilla Cuthbert to help out on their farm in Avonlea, Prince Edward Island.
The book series has been translated into more than 35 languages and has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. There are sequels as well that complete the story of Anne.
Many films and television adaptations have been made over the years. My current favourite is Anne with an E, on Netflix.
There’s also a great recent PBS series based on the books.
Best for: the young girl you know who can’t put down her book
Roots Clothing – What to Buy in Canada
Founded in Toronto, Canada in 1973, Roots goal is to inspire the world to experience everyday adventures with comfort and style.
I really love Roots Clothing. Roots first became famous for outfitting the Canadian Olympic teams in its distinctive red and white gear, beginning in 1976. I under stand that Roots clothing is one of the things that are cheaper in Canada.
My favourite Roots item is the iconic Cooper Beaver T-shirt. It’s one of the great Canada souvenirs and one of the favourite Christmas gifts in Canada.
Best for: Yourself!
Another great Roots item is one of their sweatshirts , a Canadian gift (online). Super cozy and comfy on cold Canadian nights. This is one of the best Toronto souvenirs.
Best for: your wife or yourself. This is also one of the great gifts for Canadians.
Canadian Things of Indigenous Origin
Cowichan sweater – a Great Canadian Gift
Cowichan sweaters originated in the 19th century among the Cowichan, one of the Coast Salish people on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Originally called an “Indian sweater”, the Cowichan people re-claimed the name in the 1950s and emphasized their claim to these gorgeous sweaters.
The Cowichan sweater became world-famous in the mid 1900s but it was appropriated by non-Indigenous designers. But, these sweaters are still made today by the Coast Salish people. Cowichan sweaters were recognized by the Canadian government in 2011 as nationally and historically significant.
Each Cowichan sweater has a unique design, thickness, size and shape but some characteristics are common to all. It is made of bulky, home-spun and unprocessed wool. They’re knit in the round in one piece and is made of only two or three natural colours. They have a shawl-type collar and a v-neck.
Designs for Cowichan sweaters come from a variety of sources, some of which are traditional Coast Salish iconography.
Many celebrities have been photographed in their Cowichan sweaters including Marilyn Monroe. The sweater was also made famous in the movie The Big Lebowski. This is a great gift for traveling abroad.
I’ve linked to an example on Amazon, but’s not a traditional Cowichan sweater, although it is a lovely interpretation.
This Etsy retailer sells genuine hand-knit Cowichan sweaters. They’re made in the traditional way with unspun 100% Canadian wool. The creator uses both old and new patterns, and each sweater is unique and made to be cherished for years to come. Sizes are available from women’s extra-small to men’s XXL.
I think a Cowichan sweater is one of the best souvenirs from Canada ideas you can have!
Best for: Your dad or favourite uncle who would love this Canadian memorabilia.
You’ve probably seen a dream catcher before and always wondered about them. Made of a variety of materials and in different sizes and styles, the dream catcher usually consists of a wooden hoop covered in a net or web of natural fibres, with other meaningful and sacred items attached, like feathers and beads.
Dream catchers were first associated with the Ojibwe and Lakota Indigenous nations. They were traditionally used as talismans to protect people who were sleeping from bad dreams and nightmares. I think this is one of the great Canadian gifts for foreigners.
Dream catchers are a great way to both remember your time in Canada and to help you get a good night’s sleep!
Best for: gifts for overseas friends who always talk about how that weird dream they had
Inukshuk – Vancouver Souvenirs
Inukshuks (sometimes spelled Inuksuk) are figures made of piled stones or boulders, constructed to communicate with humans throughout the Arctic in Canada. An Inukshuk figure appears on the flag of Nunavut, Canada’s newest territory. It was also used as a symbol of Vancouver’s Winter Olympics in 2010.
Inukshuks were used by the Inuit, and have been found in archeological sites dating from 2400 to 1800 BCE. Inukshuks are placed throughout the Arctic to act as helpers to the Inuit as both hunting and navigational aids and coordination points and message centres.
Inukshuk figures also have spiritual functions, and are objects of veneration. They are one of the famous things in Canada.
There’s an Inukshuk monument at English Bay in Vancouver. An Inukshuk is one of the great Vancouver souvenirs.
Best for: Your boss or manager
Typical Canadian Food Souvenirs
There’s a lot of traditional Canadian treats not available in the US or that you won’t be able to find when you get back home from your vacation in Canada.
You might have tried Nanaimo Bars or butter tarts for a sweet treat during your visit, and you may want to try to make some yourself in your own kitchen. Do! They’re not hard to make and there’s lots of great recipes.
The other snacks and sweets that are popular in Canada that may not available elsewhere make great souvenirs! These are my favourites.
These potato chips truly do taste like ketchup. You’ll never know if you like them unless you try them! Beware – they may become your new favourite! Ketchup chips are one of the best things to buy in Canada.
Best for: that friend who puts ketchup on everything and who would love a cool souvenir from Canada!
This Canadian staple is oddly unavailable in the United States, and is widely considered the best and most flavourful peanut butter in the world. Available in smooth and crunchy, this is one delicious Canadian food and a famous Canadian thing.
I know Americans who bring back a case of Kraft peanut butter when they’re visiting Canada!
Best for: You! You won’t be able to part with it
Purdy’s has been Canada’s leading chocolatier since 1907!
Made with 100% sustainable cocoa, Purdy’s chocolates are a delicious Canadian favourite. Purdy’s is a family-owned company operating in Vancouver. There are Purdy’s stores all over Canada.
My favourite Purdy’s chocolate is no doubt the chocolate hedgehog, and my second favourite are the sweet georgia browns. Sooo good!
You can buy Purdy’s chocolates online here. Purdy’s Chocolates are good souvenirs from Canada.
Best for: Your grandparents or your Mom
Tim Horton’s Coffee
Tim Hortons is Canada’s coffee shop. If you spend any time at all in Canada, you’ve seen one of these ubiquitous locations.
Beloved across the country for both coffee and doughnuts, Tim Hortons coffee is truly a Canadian beverage.
If you go to a Tim Hortons location, get a double-double (coffee with two sugar and two cream) or my favourite, the steeped tea. Or, if you missed out during your holiday, buy it from Amazon. Tim Hortons coffee is one of the great Montreal souvenirs and one of the good gifts from Canada.
Best for: The coffee lover in your life who needs a great Canadian themed gift.
Canadian Beer & Spirits
Best Television Commercial Ever
The quintessential Canadian beer is Molson Canadian. Molson sponsored one of the best television commercials ever, which you should definitely watch:
One of the famous Canadian products, Molson Canadian is a 5% alcohol lager beer, first introduced in 1959. Most Canadians have had an MC or two in their lifetimes :-).
You can take a case or two of Molson Canadian home with you, but be careful about the liquor import laws of your country first. It might be safer if you were to taste a Molson Canadian or two while you’re visiting Canada.
Best for: That friend who needs a Canadian care package and is always talking about the newest craft beer.
One of the great gifts in Canada and Canadian made product, Crown Royal Canadian Whisky was first crafted in 1939. It was poured into the finest cut glass and wrapped in purple robes to commemorate the first grand tour to Canada by then King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939. Ever since, every bottle of Crown Royal is sold in a royal purple bag.
Crown Royal has an unmistakeable smoothness, and every drop is crafted from resilient natural ingredients that were born to weather the challenging Canadian conditions. It is naturally filtered through the limestone beneath Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba.
Make sure you pick up a purple-robed bottle of the finest Canadian whiskey, Crown Royal, before you leave Canada. It’s also one of the best gifts for a Canadian of discerning tastes.
Best for: You, to share with your sweetie on a cold night.
What was your favourite souvenir from Canada? Let me know in the comments below!