The seven wonders of Canada's shopping world

A coast-to-coast guide to the nation’s must-browse shopping hubs

A coast-to-coast guide to the nation’s must-browse shopping hubs

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Shopping enthusiasts, you have a lot to cover in a country the size of Canada, but the crown jewels have to be these seven coast-to-coast wonders. With awe-inspiring architecture, one-of-a-kind finds, and selections so huge you'll want to pack a lunch, don't ask yourself how you'll afford all the finds that await you. Ask yourself how you can't afford not to seek them out!

Hydrostone Market in Halifax, Nova Scotia    

From the ashes of the Halifax explosion rose this turn-of-the-century garden suburb. Now designated as a Parks Canada Federal Heritage Site, this 10-street market is known for its boutique shops and specialty eateries with highlights that include the custom jewelers and antiques of Lady Luck Boutique and the varied Canadian artisans of the Made In The Maritimes Artisan Boutique. And talk about window-shopping – the architectural details are as satisfying to browse as the merchandise.

   

Quartier Petit Champlain in Quebec City, Quebec

Behind the fortifications surrounding old Quebec City is this four-centuries-old shopping district, not only the oldest in North America, but one of the most picturesque. In the shadow of the Château Frontenac, the pedestrian-only cobblestone streets wind through 45 shops and restaurants that sell stone sculptures, Canadian confections, and fashion designed by local crafters and Canadian icons alike. Great shopping continues if you take the funiculaire, an electric cable car, up to the streets atop the hill, where destinations include the original Simons, which opened in 1840.

   

Les Cours Mont-Royal in Montreal, Quebec

From the elegant shell of the Mount Royal Hotel was born this luxury shopping centre. The entryway has retained the hotel's original awe-inducing 12-storey skylight while the rest of the space has been annexed by luxury retailers such as DKNY, Harry Rosen and Ethan Allen across four floors. Last year the complex welcomed a glamorous new resident when Barbie Expo opened. The free exhibition is the largest permanent installation of Barbies in the world, with over 1000 dolls on display.

    

St. Jacobs Farmers' Market in St. Jacobs, Ontario

A million visitors a year cycle through Canada's largest year-round farmers' market, located just northwest of Kitchener, ON. Browse a bounty of locally sourced food, Mennonite-crafted furniture, and a huddle of must-try food vendors (the apple fritters from The Fritter Co. are just one nibbly worth lining up for).

      

Hudson's Bay in Toronto, Ontario

If this isn't Canada's largest shoe department, then the rightful titleholder needs to declare themselves. At an outrageous 31,841 square feet, this shrine to women's shoes at Toronto's Queen and Yonge flagship carries 3,000 different styles from designers such as Nicholas Kirkwood, Opening Ceremony and Tiger of Sweden (not to mention, controversially, Ivanka Trump).

(Credit: Hudson's Bay)

The West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta

Though it's as cheesy as a YouTube star's meet-and-greet, Canada's mightiest mall is still a must-see in much the same way that you have to try deep-fried bacon. The 490,000-square-metre shopping superhub hosts mass retailers from Abercrombie to Zara, but what really makes it a cathedral of consumer excess is its ostentatious amusements, such as the 17-waterslide waterpark, indoor ice rink, mini-golf, maze of mirrors, and, of course, the Mindbender, the tallest and longest indoor rollercoaster in the world.

    

Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia

With fresh-as-it-gets seafood, seasonal fruits and veggies, and cheeses as strong as your nose can bear, the Public Market is the epicentre of this 300-business shopping district. But there are more than a few secrets among the artists and artisans who call the island home, including Canada's first premium sake brewery, Masa Shiroki's Artisan Sake Maker stall.