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Canadian Giftshop

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Canadian Giftshop





There is an ancient, unwritten, and universal custom observed by travellers: when abroad, bring gifts for your hosts.


Many travellers, in order to express their gratitude, often bring gifts epitomical of their home country- gifts which, to their foreign host, might seem rare or exotic. In accordance with this practice, Canucks, when travelling abroad, often present their foreign relatives, host families and business associates with quintessential ‘Canadian’ gifts.

In my experience, there are three main types of ‘Canadian’ gifts: 1) typical tourist souvenirs; 2) super expensive art; 3) liquor.

Typical ‘Canadian’ tourist souvenirs are the sorts of things you’ll find inside airport gift shops. They include, but are mountie-bobbleheadcertainly not limited to, items such as little leaf-shaped bottles of maple syrup, Tim Hortons coffee mugs, Mountie bobble heads, Team Canada mini sticks, boxes of Pacific smoked salmon, calendars depicting snapshots of various Canadian national parks, and stuffed moose and beavers with and without RCMP regalia. These gifts are the side arms of a travelling Canuck’s ‘Canadian gift’ arsenal; they’ll get the job done and will do in a pinch, but they have their limitations. With some exceptions, many these gifts are largely forgettable, and may fail to leave a lasting impression on your host.

soapstone-carvingSuper expensive Canadian art include things like soapstone polar bear carvings crafted by genuine Inuit artists, or thousand dollar argillite masks sculpted by Charles Edenshaw’s great grandson on the shores of the Queen Charlottes. These gifts are the attack helicopters and tanks of the ‘Canadian gift’ arsenal; they will blow their targets out of the water. Giving a host a super expensive Canadian art piece is the traveller’s ultimate gesture of gratitude and friendship. The only problem is that super expensive Canadian art is, well… super expensive.

crown-royalThe last main category of Canadian gifts is liquor. Canadian liquor includes beverages like premium Canadian rye whisky (Crown Royal, Wiser’s or Canadian Club, for example), Inniskillin ice wine, Okanagan merlot, and Saskatoon berry liqueur. These gifts are the rifles of the ‘Canadian gift’ arsenal; they’re affordable, and they pack a punch. Unfortunately, they seem to be one of the only solid, medium-priced Canadian tourist gifts on the market. And they are generic, and you have to be at least 18 years old to carry them.

It seems to me that one much-needed fourth category of ‘Canadian gifts’ is conspicuously absent:

  • Canadian gifts that are unique, moderately priced and non-alcoholic
  • Canadian gifts for travellers wishing to sincerely and uniquely thank their hosts without breaking the bank
  • Canadian gifts for students on a budget who are not satisfied with gifting typical souvenirs
  • Canadian gifts for teetotalers and uncompromising young Canucks under the age of 18 (Canada’s legal drinking age).

The purpose of this ‘Canadian Giftshop’ is to fulfill that fourth category.


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