Like most countries, Canada has a selection of items unique to that country that make for interesting souvenirs. From small and easy-to-pack trinkets to bulky blankets and sweaters, these items will conjure up your days in Canada when you're long gone. These items are often available at airports in Canada or at duty-free shops at the U.S.-Canadian border as well in shops throughout the country. So bring a little bit of Canada home.
Smoked British Columbia Salmon
West Coast salmon is famous worldwide, and smoked salmon is one of the most popular gifts Canadian visitors take home. Cold smoked salmon, also known as lox, can be bought frozen and lasts about 24 hours at room temperature, which allows you time to get it home if you buy it at the airport as you leave or at the border if you don't have a long drive home. Cooked smoked salmon does not need refrigeration and therefore can be taken on long journeys or bought locally at, for example, Finest at Sea Ocean on Granville Island.
Originally built by Inuit living in Arctic Canada, the inukshuk (inuksuk is the preferred spelling but not the most widely used) is a sculpture made of stone intended to mimic a human body. These sculptures are traditionally used mostly as hunting and navigational aids but are seen across the country as decoration. The symbol became prominent during the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games in 2010, and it is now widely available as a knick-knack, stand-alone sculpture, or as embellishments on jewelry and T-shirts.
Ice wine is a sweet dessert wine produced with grapes frozen on the vine. Canada, which has no problem providing freezing conditions, is the largest ice wine producer in the world. Ice wines are favored for their concentrated flavor and sweetness balanced by high acidity, giving ice wine its clean finish. Ice wines are extremely sweet and best enjoyed when complemented by something other than sweet or rich foods. A favorite ice wine is Cave Springs Riesling Icewine. Other popular ice wines include those from Inniskillin and Mission Hill.
First developed in 1990, though particularly popular after the Ice Storm of 1998 that devastated part of southern Quebec and left millions of frozen apples in its wake, ice cider, also known as cidre de glace, or apple ice wine, is produced through the alcoholic fermentation of the juice of pressed frozen apples. It is found mainly in Quebec. Like its popular Canadian cousin, ice wine, ice cider nicely complements pates, foie gras, game, and fine cheeses. Ice cider is found at SAQ, the government stores authorized to sell alcohol in Quebec, and specialty stores. Neige Apple Ice Wine and Domaine Pinnacle are two top choices of ice cider.
Akin to pecan pie, the butter tart is a delicious mix of butter, sugar, and eggs in a pastry shell, and depending on who you talk to, might also contain nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips. As one of the few distinctly Canadian foods, one that was a staple of pioneer Canadian cooking and is indeed delicious, visitors should give them a try and bring some home to share. Pick up a half dozen at most any Canadian bakery, at some U.S.-Canadian duty-free shops, or at Tim Hortons coffee shops.
These triple-layer chocolate squares hail from Nanaimo, British Columbia, but can be found all over Canada at most bakeries and Tim Hortons shops.
Foreign coins are usually a winning souvenir for kids. The Canadian toonie is especially prized. It is a large, attractive coin that is silver with a round brass inlay and makes for a great gift from Canada. Hang on to a couple at the end of your trip.
First Nations Art
Most tourist destinations in Canada promote some sort of First Nations art in the form of carvings, soapstone sculpture, leatherwork, and paintings. It will be an unusual decor item that gets noticed at your house.
Hudson's Bay Point Blanket
Since at least 1780 and much likely earlier, these iconic wool blankets have been keeping Canadians warm. The blankets are sold exclusively by the Hudson's Bay Company, a department store whose beginnings are in line with those of Canada itself. The warmth and color of the blankets were highly prized by people of the First Nations, who traded their beaver pelts in exchange for them with English settlers.