When it comes to all things Canadian, I’m a massive nerd. Give me all things bear, moose or plaid and I’m as happy as a Canuck in winter. I’ve now lived in Canada for four years, but I honestly still love being a massive tourist in this country. Although I’m now a full-time resident, Canadian souvenirs still pull at my tourist heart-strings.
Bringing home souvenirs is one of the things I love about travel, it’s a nice reminder of each place you have been to. There are many quintessential Canadian souvenirs from the generic to the more unique.
Read on to find out the best souvenirs to buy in Canada that you can actually take home!
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1) Canadian Maple Syrup
Maple Syrup gets the top spot for this list since it is one of the first things people think of when they think of Canada. Sure, you can get maple syrup outside of Canada, but it’s better when you bring home the really authentic stuff.
Canada, more specifically Quebec, produces over 70% of the worlds Maple Syrup. No pancakes are complete without real maple Syrup!
2) Maple Cookies
And while we’re on the subject of maple syrup – maple cookies are amazing! While most people will have no doubt tried maple syrup, I’m sure many of them have never had maple cookies. These make the perfect souvenir to bring home as you can’t get maple cookies outside of Canada (in my experience)
I have never seen Maple Cookies anywhere else in the world and they pack super easily!
Wait what? I don’t want to get my suitcase all messy from poutine??
No no no, not actual poutine… but you can take home some elements so that when you’re missing your favourite French Canadian dish you can make it at home!
Surprisingly, I’ve only ever tried Poutine once. There’s a reason for that though! I refuse to eat the Poutine here in BC since it looks unappealing and I worked in a kitchen where I saw how it was made/put together (say no more) I waited two years to try Poutine. My very first Poutine was in Montreal, and I do not regret waiting. It was amazing – way different to BC! Quebec Poutine will change your life. Since Poutine originated in Quebec this is where I’d recommend trying it.
If you want to recreate French Canadian Poutine at home, take home a can or sachet of St. Hubert’s gravy. St. Hubert’s is a chain of restaurants in Quebec and their gravy is amazing, it’s the perfect gravy for that authentic Poutine taste. And super easy to pack!
4) Smoked Salmon and Salmon Nuggets
The west coast of Canada is famous for it’s salmon populations. The First Nations people have been fishing for Salmon for centuries and still smoke their salmon in traditional ways. The smoked salmon here may not be cheap but it sure is good! You’ll find smoked salmon in almost any supermarket but I’d recommend checking out some local markets where it’s going to be much fresher. You can bring home frozen smoked salmon which you’ll also find in the airport gift shops on the way home.
5) Fridge Magnets
Fridge Magnets are my absolute favourite souvenir to buy when traveling, and Canadian souvenirs are no different! Even now whenever I see a local magnet that I love I purchase it! These are also great little gifts for friends and relatives as they pack away easily. You’ll find all sorts of designs with the famous stanley park totem poles or the typical Canadian animals such as bears and moose.
You can find fridge magnets at any typical tourist shop.
6) Ice Wine
Canada has many wine regions across the country, including the Okanagan and the Niagara region. While the typical varietals are a great gift to take home, Canada is famous for it’s very own type of wine: Ice Wine. Ice wine is a dessert wine that is made during the winter months when the grapes are left to freeze while still on the vine. Canada is the largest producer of Ice Wine and wineries prepare every winter to be ready to pick the grapes at a moments notice.
7) Anything Plaid
We all know that Canada is full of lumberjacks, and lumberjacks obviously wear plaid. You’ll find everything plaid here in Canada. The typical plaid shirt can be found at almost any store. Walmart has their own range of Canadian clothes known as their Canadiana collection, also available in their kitchenware section such as place mats, table cloths and tea towels (I have them myself!)
Plaid blankets are something I think everyone can get behind! Who doesn’t love blankets? And plaid blankets just make for amazing Instagram photos!
8) Hockey Jersey
Canada’s favourite sport is Ice Hockey or simply; Hockey. Attending a hockey game is a must when visiting Canada. The most popular teams across Canada are the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. Although Hockey Jerseys can be pricey, you can also opt to purchase a t-shirt with your favourite hockey teams logo.
9) Canadian Beer
Before I moved to Canada, I couldn’t have named one Canadian beer but Canada is home to some really good beer! Molson Canadian is one of the top beer brands in Canada and their marketing is quintessentially Canadian too – maple leaf adorned beer bottles are the cutest! But there are many more brands across Canada. The east coast is famous for it’s Moose Head while the west coast is famous for Kokanee.
You can also find craft breweries just about anywhere in Canada, so if you’re a beer enthusiastic you need to try the local stuff! Vancouver is famous for it’s Steamworks beer, Toronto for it’s Steam Whistle brand and Whistler for Whistler Brewing.
10) Canadian Whiskey
Something you may not know about Canada is that it is famous for it’s whiskey. The most common Canadian Whiskeys you will hear of are Canadian Club, Wyser’s and Crown Royal. Crown Royal being the most famous as it is know world-wide.
Crown Royal was first produced in 1939 as part of the Royal tour of Canada by King George VI.and Queen Elizabeth. It is exclusive produced in Lake Winnipeg and was only available in Canada until the 1960’s.
11) Ketchup Chips & Other Canadian Snacks
Ketchup crisps are actually one of the things I did try before moving to Canada. I think Walkers had a limited time flavour for Ketchup chips that one time. But here in Canada, Ketchup chips are life. You will find them on every shelf in every convenience store and supermarket.
Other Canadian snacks include Coffee Crisp (if you haven’t tried one, you need to!) and cheezies. Cheezies are not like Cheetos. I happen to love both but Cheezies are crunchier and have a much different flavour.
12) Canadian Chocolates
Try some local Canadian chocolate during your travels. Rogers chocolates and Rocky Mountain can both be found in many tourist destinations within Canada, including both Banff National Park and Whistler ski resort. The Bear Claws from Rocky Mountain are amazing – and who can resist something called a “Bear Claw”
You might also stumble across more local chocolate brands, such as Purdy’s in Vancouver. Chocolate is always an amazing souvenir!
13) Roots Clothing
Roots is one of the most popular clothing brands in Canada and their apparel is perfect for the colder weather. You’ll find Roots stores in almost every city in Canada and in the bigger tourist destinations they’ll have city branded clothes. Here in Whistler you can purchase hoodies and sweatshirts that say “Whistler” across them – a perfect Canadian souvenir! I also love their scarves, socks and hats. The grey/red tweed like designs scream winter in Canada.
14) Canadian Coffee / Tim Hortons
Tim Hortons is a Canadian staple. You’ll find more timmies than any other coffee brand across Canada. I tried my very first “timmies” in Toronto airport while waiting for my flight to Vancouver, the very first time I came to Canada, and I loved it! You can opt to take home some of their ground coffee or simply pick up some Tim Hortons branded merchandise.
While Tim Hortons is something most Canadians can agree on, there are plenty more coffee brands in the great white north. Some of my favourite coffee brands here on the west coast include Vancouver’s 49th Parallel, Kicking Horse coffee and Galileo Coffee in Squamish.
15) Christmas Ornaments
One of the things I love collecting during my travels is Christmas ornaments. Every year my tree gets covered in decorations from around the world and the selection here in Canada is too cute to pass up. Some of my Canadian Christmas ornaments include a moose, a snowmobile, a Canadian passport and our Whistler Gondola ornament.
You can also find real maple leaves covered in gold in most Christmas stores around Canada – pretty neat eh?
16) Canada Winter Apparel
Visiting Canada in winter is the perfect time to embrace the tourist in you. Many stores will carry winter apparel adorned with maple leafs or the words “Canada” across them. Every winter I see tons of tourists sporting their “Canada” hats and I love it. My in-laws gifted me these amazing maple-leaf adorned mittens a couple of Christmas’s ago and I’m obsessed – they are so cute!
16) Inukshuk & Native Artwork
One of the most authentic souvenirs you can bring home from your trip to Canada is a piece of native artwork, one of the most popular native pieces you will see is the Inukshuk.
There are tons of stores that will sell the standard souvenirs but if you really want authentic native wares, head to a specialised store. Much of the native artwork you see in tourist gift stores aren’t authentic. If you’re going to spend money on good artwork, it’s important to support local artists.
Prices vary depending on what you’re buying and where from. In downtown Vancouver prices will be more than smaller towns. Horseshoe Bay had far better prices than Vancuver. I’ve purchased affordable native artwork from the cultural centre here in Whistler and would only buy from authentic outlets. If you’re looking to support local and buy handmade souvenirs shop around and do your research.
17) Hudsons Bay Souvenirs
The Hudson’s Bay company is Canada’s signature department store and can found in just about any major Canadian city. The company was first founded in 1670 as a fur trading business.
Hudson’s Bay is famous for it’s iconic “HBC stripes” design. Four colourful stripes of green, red yellow and blue which adorn their very own signature collection. Items in this collection include tote bags, hats, gloves, scarves blankets, christmas ornaments and even canoes.
18) Stuffed Bear/Moose/Beaver
One of the cutest souvenirs you will find in Canada is stuffed animals dressed as mounties. Canadian stuffed animals such as bears, beavers and moose can be found at almost all souvenir shops. These make the perfect gift for younger people and kids or just for a cute travel companion! I know I still love stuffed animals…
19) Canadian Flag
A Canadian flag is not only a great gift to bring home, but an awesome prop to make your vacation photos pop! Canadian flags can be purchased just about anywhere from the dollar store to Canadian tire. Why not buy a flag and add an extra fun element to those holiday snaps!
While I wouldn’t recommend trying to lug a complete plate set back home in your suitcase, there are some kitchenware items that you can get away with. If you have a relative that loves baking, maple leaf adorned kitchen items such as spatulas, aprons and oven gloves can be found in certain gift shops. If you’re an avid camper (and if you’re not!) camping tin mugs with Canadian designs can be found just about anywhere – perfect for your morning coffee!
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