Holiday

13 very unique gifts from Canadian makers

The coolest small run finds from across the country!

The coolest small run finds from across the country!

(Photography by Daniel Wood)

As many of us are giving more thought to where and how our products are created these days, sometimes the very idea of gift giving, especially during the holidays, can be overwhelming. Somewhere in between the convenience and ubiquity of mass-produced big box items ("Buy it Now! Deal of the Day!") and the luxury of commissioning one-of-a-kind-original work (even if your dog does totally deserve that custom portrait featuring him as the handsome Tudor King he is), is that sweet Goldilocks porridge spot of jussst right. 

It's in this spirit that we've rounded up a selection of gift ideas made in small production runs by independent Canadian makers and designers. These clever and quirky products are designed by the artists themselves, and many of the items are handcrafted in limited edition batches, which makes otherwise one-off items available to a larger audience. Giving family and friends super cool, unique gifts, and supporting Canadian talent? It's a definite win-win.

We the North agree, these joyful shirts from Instagram-sensation Leeloodles definitely share our kind of team spirit. This family-run project features cheerful doodles from Toronto kid sisters Leeloo and Daenarys printed onto tees. Images range from a charming freehand Blue Jays mascot to an ode to Kawhi Leonard's infamous playoff squat.

Winnepeg Jets and Maple Leafs Tees, $35, Leeloodles

(Photography by Daniel Wood)

Brighten up any kitchen with the crisp blues and dreamy oranges of this Midnight Bloom tea towel. This cheerful print is just one of the fresh spins on mid-century modern-inspired textile designs from Mezzaluna Studio, a houseware brand by Edmonton-based designer Vikki Wiercinski

Midnight Bloom Tea Towel, $20, Etsy

With her Indigenous Artisans collection, Joella Hogan, a member of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation and owner of the Yukon Soaps Company, combines two of her passions: traditional Indigenous beadwork and handcrafted soaps. Each of the eight designs in this series features unique beadwork, both found and new, by Northern Tutchone women from Joella's community of Mayo.

Soaps, $12, Yukon Soaps Company

Attention plant-loving homebodies and collectors of vintage Canadiana glassware! Have we found some special somethings for you, namely, these gorgeous Maple Butter and Keep Kool risograph prints from Cabin Journal, a stationary company from Toronto illustrator and designer Emily Taylor. (Don't worry, there are plenty of beautiful items for everyone, from colourful posters to charmingly nostalgic greeting cards.)

Maple Butter and Keep Kool Art Prints, $15/$25, Cabin Journal

(Photography by Shelby Fenlon)

Talk about a statement piece. For all your contemporary wearable art needs, we proudly present the Knot Bracelet by Toronto designer Corey Moranis. Corey shapes each of her pieces by hand, choosing to work almost exclusively in lucite; the results reflect the translucent material's solid yet luminous nature. Her current collection ranges from a minimally demure wrap ring to a powerful and swoon-worthy futuristic horseshoe collar

Knot Bracelet, $105, coreymoranis.com

Bathe your skin in this luxurious Prairie Sea Calming serum from Bath Poetry, an all-natural apothecary based in Lumsden, Saskatchewan. Each product is handmade in small batches by owner Nicolle Nugent and infused with unique essential oil blends — which includes Blue Tansy in this signature serum. 

Prairie Sea Calming Serum, $56, Bath Poetry

Consider these cheeky magnet messages, illustrated by Toronto artist Anna May Henry, the mini pep talks you didn't know you needed. They're perfect to slap onto the fridge as you raid it for ingredients to spruce up your rent week instant noodles. Find these and other effortlessly cool accessories by local artists at Montreal-based Stay Home Club. Anna May Henry's work is also featured in the CBC Arts 2019 gift guide

Just Fine & No Money No Worries Magnets, $4 each, Stay Home Club

(Photography by Ned Pratt)

If Canada's East Coast could be said to have a flavour, an essence, it might just be this crafted sea salt from Peter Burt and Robin Crane's Newfoundland Salt Company. The saltmaker couple creates quality small batch products (which now include Juniper Smoked and Green Alder sea salt varieties), operating from a historic storefront in Bonavista, Newfoundland. The result? A uniquely Canadian, delicately flakey, clean tasting finishing salt, the perfect gift for passionate cooks from coast to coast. 

Newfoundland Sea Salt, $7-20, Newfoundland Salt Company

(Photography by Marina Fierz)

Victoria, B.C. artist Marina Fierz channels her free-wheeling West Coast spirit in her bespoke jewelry line, Delicate Bones. These playful yet minimalist statement earrings are handmade to order in lightweight polymer clay, with custom commissions currently open. 

Delicate Bones Camille Earrings, $38, marinafierzart.ca

(Photography by Raphaëlle Gagnon)

We're going wild for Boreal Folk Apothecary's Huckleberry Lip Butter, handcrafted from foraged black huckleberries gathered in the forests of Tofino, BC. The natural skincare company is small but mighty, operating out of their nomadic "Wilderness Lab" (a mobile workshop that you'll want to follow along on their Instagram), creating botanical skincare goods from wild plants sustainably harvested in Canada's West Coast forests. 

Wild Huckleberry Lip Butter, $20, Boreal Folk Apothecary

Functional and attractive, minimalist and elegant, this Paper Pusher Isometric Risograph 2020 Calendar from Toronto designer and educator JP King has it all. Now in its ninth year of limited-edition printing, it's easy to see how this good looking project has become a contemporary graphic design staple. 

Isometric Risograph 2020 Calendar, $28, Paper Pusher

[Editor's note: We requested that our contributor include her item, it's that fun!]

Inspired by the red plastic grocery bags often found in Toronto Chinatown shops, I created my own version in reusable nylon. The Lucky Red Thank You Bag features my original happy prawn and rose illustrations, with good luck wishes in auspicious red and pink.

Lucky Red Thank You Bag, $25, Hungry Eyes Studio


Flo Leung is a Toronto illustrator and noodle lover. You can find her work at hungryeyesstudio.com and @hungryeyesstudio.

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