Borders may be closed and chances to shop in-person may be limited – but there’s never been a better time to relish in the wonders of our local communities. This year, we’re giving gifts that celebrate everything Canada has to offer. From adventure packages and hotel vouchers for someday trips to homegrown pantry must-haves and DIY spa day essentials you can enjoy now, let’s spend the season appreciating the country we call home.
Here are three Canadian gift guides for the active adventurers, the finessed foodies, and the wellness devotees in your life, each designed to inspire future travel that fits every person’s dream itinerary.
If ever there was a time to give the gift of self-care and relaxation, it’s now. Conjure spa-like experiences while supporting a plethora of talented Canadian artisans with these products, services and adventures to achieve both mental and physical wellness. From virtual yoga to spa treatments and soothing organic teas, you can’t go wrong with these thoughtful presents for some much-needed TLC heading into 2021.
Help a friend indulge in a moment of tranquility by booking them a therapeutic deep-tissue massage, detoxifying stone therapy or Reiki healing from Pocca Pocca Spa. Located in the heart of Winnipeg, Manitoba, this spa offers relaxing treatments, yoga sessions and more for both individuals and couples. Gift certificates are available for purchases starting at $45.
2. Yoga practice mat
A fan favourite among yogis, this mat from Saskatchewan’s Still North Retreat Company is great for everyday at-home practice – because who doesn't need a little extra peace and serenity right about now? Cushier than the average mat, this is ideal for first-timers and those who are well-practiced in yoga. Available for online order for $50.
Handmade from a family-run farm in Yellowknife, these 100 per cent Canadian beeswax soap candles will leave your lucky giftee’s skin feeling pleasantly conditioned. Made with argan oil, pink kaolin and red clays, the Houseboat Heaven soap is all-natural and ideal for preparing the skin and hands for the long winter ahead. Buy a tin of mini-soaps made for taking with you while travelling for $9.
4. Nordic-style spa experience
Alberta’s Kananaskis Nordic Spa is beloved for its massages and outdoor hydrotherapy pool treatments – so why not purchase a gift card to this alpine sanctuary for that friend who’s planning their next trip out west? It’s an all-season gift sure to be appreciated by anyone looking to refuel and nourish the soul after long days in lockdown. Gift cards are available for purchase starting at $25.
5. Vegan body care gift set for dry skin
For the skincare enthusiast or anyone facing a little seasonal dryness, consider this essentials kit from Ontario-based all-vegan small business Sade Baron. Packed with a fresh assortment of luxe body care treatment tools, including a mist, a body soufflé, a super hydrating bar cleanser and a sea wool sponge, this $70 kit is perfect for an at-home day of bliss.
Help friends and family engage and connect with Canadian art and culture by gifting a membership to the Art Gallery of Ontario. They’ll enjoy free year-long entry to one of Ontario’s premier art galleries with rotating and permanent exhibitions of the country’s finest works, including a $90 long-distance option for those who live outside of Toronto.
Whether they’re a beginner or a pro, any practitioner will appreciate this virtual yoga subscription from Modo Yoga. From the cardio-intensive routines of yoga-barre to the deep, relaxing stretches of yin yoga, this subscription offers yogis the chance to practice workouts of all kinds and lengths from anywhere, anytime, for just $20 a month.
This Palo Santo incense is the ideal accompaniment to any self-care session – what better way to cleanse your space while lifting your mood? Made sustainably from the fallen branches of Ecuadorian Palo Santo trees, they’re packaged and sold from a small Vancouver-based company, Woodlot, whose values are rooted in tradition, sustainability and respect for people and the planet. A bundle costs $12.
9. Stay at a traditional lodge and spa
With travel limited at the moment, give the gift of something to look forward to. Help someone escape to British Columbia’s Quaaout Lodge as soon as travel restrictions are lifted. This lodge and spa offers everything from interpretive tours of a kekuli (traditional underground accommodations of the Secwepemc people) to rejuvenating Le7ke spa treatments, Shushwap-inspired fine dining and berry-picking excursions. Special packages start at $35.
10. The ultimate self-care duo
A crowd-pleaser for the beauty-obsessed, this box by Quebec-based company Apprenti Ôr’ganik includes their cult-favourite face elixir and a Gua Sha made with natural blue spot jasper stone to soothe the skin. Buy the whole set for $57 to delight any self-care aficionado.
Treat a friend to a delicious cup of high quality, organic New Brunswick tea to soothe from the inside out. It’s the perfect stocking stuffer or gift for a colleague who’s been pulling long hours. We especially love the Organic Smoked Maple Oolong, available for $8.
For that friend who’s been feeling overwhelmed lately (and who hasn't?), an organic wine club subscription delivered straight to their door is the perfect accoutrement to kick-back and unwind after a busy day. They’ll enjoy six bottles hand-selected by the owner and winemaker of Nova Scotia’s L’Acadie Vineyards, delivered throughout the year to hold them over through the winter months and beyond, starting at $155.
A bath can do wonders for stress. So why not gift these indulgent salt bombs harvested from the cold, clean waters of Newfoundland and Labrador to your hardest-working love ones? Let them melt away the day with all-natural mineral rich spa products from East Coast Glow, for just $9 a piece.
Help someone create a relaxing, zen-like atmosphere while working from home with these one-of-a-kind, handcrafted wind chimes. Tuned by ear by artisans on Prince Edward Island, these chimes are both visually and sonically stunning, starting at $55. There’s even an “Anne” chime, inspired by the Anne of Green Gables musical!
Turn a friend’s bathroom into a mini-spa situation with Uasau’s gorgeous line of body butters. Made with bowhead whale oil and grape seed carrier oil, the “Non-sense” Bowhead Body Butter offers a taste of all-natural Arctic ingredients drawn from traditions of Inuit culture. The product protects the skin from harsh Canadian winters without any artificial scents for just $35.
These handmade mugs from Yukon come in soothing colours for a bright and cheery start to the day. Starting at $32 each, Anto Yukon includes details about the ceramic artists who craft each special piece on their site, for an added personal touch. It’s the perfect present to accompany a delightful cup of tea.
17. Saltwater float treatments
For the person in your life who loves to meditate, gift the experience of floating in a private cabin of saltwater where you can drift into deep relaxation by lying back and letting go. It’s a meditative experience unlike any other, ideal for those who live in Saskatchewan or are planning a trip there soon. A single float gift card costs $75.
Though we’ve spent most of this year homebound, the pandemic has inspired Canadians to discover their own backyards. And while the fitness buffs in your life might be making do with home workouts and patio yoga sessions for the time being, you can be sure they’re itching for an active adventure across the country. Here are 16 ways to help your loved ones plan for their next domestic outdoor trip, when the time comes.
1. Yoga retreat
Have a family member whose New Year’s resolution is to find inner peace? Whether they’re looking for a wellness retreat or an add-on to a packed vacation in northern British Columbia, Tofino Yoga is the perfect destination. They offer six different retreat packages, including beach yoga, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, massages and more. Now booking for 2021; $599/per person for a three-day retreat, not including accommodations or meals.
Take in the natural wonders of Canada’s famous Banff and Lake Louise with SkiBig3. Buy now to book your sportiest friend lift tickets for the 2021 season. Choose from the area’s top three ski resorts – Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mt. Norquay — or try them all. Lift tickets get skiers access to free ski shuttles, flexible grace days if they need a break from the hills during their trip and additional pass perks and bonuses. Single day tickets start at $132 per day, with additional discounts for multi-day and advance bookings.
Give the gift of flexible fashion with workout gear from Moov, an eco-conscious, ethically-made athletic wear company born in Quebec. All of their products are made at their Montreal warehouse using their trademarked Bio-Moovflex textile, fabricated using 80 per cent biodegradable yarn. Their comfortable, practical and performance-minded products help divert landfill waste and protect our bodies of water from micro-plastics — and they don’t break the bank, either.
The fishers in your life will appreciate casting their line into Big Sand Lake and exploring the surrounding bays during a five-day, all-inclusive quintessential Canadian trip of a lifetime. This package offers stays at the main lodge or a remote outpost, where guests can take stock of the great outdoors while practicing catch-and-release fishing of Northern Pike, Lake Trout, Walley and Arctic Grayling. They’ll enjoy lunches cooked over an open fire and catch glimpses of Manitoba’s wildlife. Now booking into the 2021 fishing season.
5. Family-friendly adventure park package
The ideal gift for a family of thrill seekers is an adventure package to TreeOSix at their Cypress Hills or Waskesiu locations in Saskatchewan. There’s a wide range of choices for all ages: Zipline through the trees, mountain bike with TreeOSix’s brand-new eBikes, challenge yourself in a high ropes course or go axe throwing. The world, at TreeOSix Adventure Parks, is your oyster—and activities start from just $25 per person.
Perfect for animal lovers, offer the chance to spend three days horseback riding through Algonquin Park and two nights cozying up in the Algonquin Eco-Lodge with this summer package. The Eco-Lodge is home to a private 30-acre lake, where visitors can swim, canoe, luxuriate in their sauna and enjoy the best food in Algonquin Park. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the wilderness and savour the outdoors without having to rough it. $850/per person, includes three days of trail riding over a two-night stay.
7. Ice climbing
For the friend who’s always chasing an adrenaline rush: There’s nothing like the breathtaking experience of ice climbing. For less experienced climbers, Alberta’s Girth Hitch offers intro courses guided by trailblazers with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG); but it’s a true choose-your-adventure package deal offering customizable guided services, technical gear and boot rentals. Climbs start at $499, with gift cards available.
8. Parks Canada Discovery Pass
Have a friend who wants to get out, but can’t decide where exactly they want to go? Or someone who’s planning a road trip through multiple provinces and territories once restrictions are lifted? Pick them up a Parks Canada Discovery Pass from various MEC locations across the country. The pass gives travellers year-long admission to up to 80 Parks Canada parks – full freedom to discover Canada, borderless. Pass prices range from $59 to $139.
9. Island Outdoor Adventure trip
On this east coast itinerary, guests wake up to made-to-order breakfast followed by a bike ride or kayak adventure through Prince Edward Island’s stunning scenery. The package comes with two local gift cards: one for guests to sample the island’s incredible food and drinks, and one to take home handcrafted goat milk soaps from the Great Canadian Soap Company. The perfect romantic getaway for the most adventurous couples in your life, this trip also comes with access to PEI’s stunning national parks and Green Gables Heritage Place. Now booking two-day, three-night packages for $815 + tax.
10. Zip lining and treetop trekking
Take in the view of Saint John from the treetops. On this high-altitude tour, guests can spend three hours navigating through 11 courses with more than 110 obstacles and 25 zip-line challenges. It’s perfect fun for the whole family to bond, get active and see New Brunswick from a new point of view. Gift passes and certificates are available for the 2021 season.
11. The Cabot Trail
Give a nature lover access to Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail, where visitors will find themselves surrounded by greenery, ocean sea salt in the air and, of course, plenty of Canadian history. It’s Nova Scotia’s most iconic road trip: Travel along 300 kilometres of rugged coastline for eight to 10 hours, with stops through charming fishing villages for east coast culinary delights and breathtaking viewpoints. Now booking for 2021, prices start at $147/per person.
For the friends who are longing to get out, but can’t: Bring the great outdoors to their living room, with a vivid hiking guide that takes readers through 80 different routes in the Yukon. While travel might not be possible now, we can still get inspired by picture books like Yukon Hiking: A Little Guide in a Wild Landscape, chock full of awe-inspiring landscapes from eight different regions of the Yukon. It will most certainly inspire a bucket-list adventure! Pre-order now for $34.99.
Help a loved one get away for three days of kayaking and wilderness exploration in the beautiful Georgian Bay with Black Feather Wilderness Adventure Company. The multi-day expedition teaches participants to become safe and confident sea kayakers, no prior experience necessary, all while enjoying the natural beauty of the 30,000 Islands in Nunavut. Enjoy the rustic pleasures of camping, along with prepared dinners and even a wine tasting. $995 per person for three days and two nights, including meals and equipment.
On this unforgettable canoe expedition, travellers can breathe in fresh northern air, swim and paddle through the still, clear water of the Mackenzie River, and escape from the stress of daily life. For up to 16 days, travellers canoe and camp in the Northwest Territories while learning from North Star Adventures’ Indigenous knowledge keepers and guides, who paddle alongside and show visitors the wilderness of the “Dehcho” region. Packages available starting with 8 to 10-day adventures for $3,995 + tax per person.
The Lake Laberge Dog Sledding Weekend is the perfect gift for adrenaline junkies who don’t mind the cold. Travellers take in breathtaking Yukon sights while zipping through the snow on this three-day adventure that involves cabin stays, campfire picnics and spectacular views with Cathers Wilderness Adventures company. Three to seven-day trips are available, starting at $1,055 per person.
16. Whale watching and bird boat tours
Set your sights on the open sea with a gift certificate to O’Briens Boat Tours. On this award-winning boat tour off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, guests climb aboard and set sail towards the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, where they can spot Atlantic puffins, humpback whales, icebergs and millions of other seabirds. Tickets are $65 per person for adults, with discount prices for students, seniors and youth, and family packages for two adults and two children priced at $165.
So, you want to shop local for your holiday gifts this year, while ensuring you find the perfect thing for each of your food and travel-obsessed friends. We’ve got just the thing! From Indigenous-owned winery memberships to virtual cocktail lessons and artisanal food products you never knew existed, we searched high and low for 17 made-in-Canada, food-themed gifts, sure to inspire anyone to eat their way from coast to coast to coast.
For the wine enthusiast, gift a taste of Nk’Mip Cellars, an award-winning winery in the southern Okanagan town of Osoyoos, B.C., which also happens to be the first Indigenous-owned-and-operated winery in North America. The membership includes four bottles from a diverse selection of varieties that are shipped out quarterly across British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and costs $115.
If they’re into trying new things, they will love regular delivery of local treats and goodies. The Squamish chef behind popular Vancouver food truck Mr. Bannock is now offering delivery kits including a selection of fan favourites, like bannock mix, beef jerky, coffee beans and smoke spice, starting at $26.
Who knew the sunny, cool Western Prairies provide the ideal climate for growing mustard? Actually, Canada is the world’s largest exporter of the hardy brassicaceae crop and the highest quality seeds are grown in Alberta. For the condiment connoisseur, choose from unique flavours such as black pepper, cranberry, dill, horseradish and roasted garlic at a specialty shop like Brassica. A gift box with three popular flavours costs $20.
For the person who needs a little pampering, a weekend staycation is the way to go. Located in the heart of Winnipeg, where the Assiniboine River meets the Red River, the Inn at the Forks offers beautiful panoramic views of the downtown skyline, and more importantly, a self-care sanctuary at the Riverstone Spa. Be sure to treat them to a meal at the in-house restaurant, Smith; it’s one of the most popular spots in the city, offering a warm and rustic atmosphere and luxurious, local food. Gift cards are available for both spa packages and hotel stays via the Riverstone Spa website, starting at $25.
Toronto-based chef Nuit Regular (of Pai, Sukhothai and Sabai Sabai fame) utterly transformed Thai dining in Toronto—and her new book, Kiin: Recipes and Stories from Northern Thailand, does the same for Canadians cooking Thai food at home. Inspired by her upbringing in northern Thailand, it includes heartwarming personal essays, gorgeous location photography and 120 authentic recipes, and can be purchased for $29.
For the cocktail lover who appreciates the finer things in life, these BarChef live virtual mixology classes are hosted by celebrity bar chef Frankie Solarik and include a customizable cocktail kit with in-house bitters, infused syrups and all the ingredients and bar tools they need to craft two new impressive cocktails, starting at $90 per person. Perfect for a virtual party or a more intimate affair (custom event pricing can vary).
Ferme 5 Etoiles, a vacation farm in Sacré-Coeur, Quebec, is the perfect setting for a family-friendly adventure. Their two-days, one-night package includes brunch at the sugar shack, a horse-drawn sleigh ride, live shows and, of course, maple taffy on snow, among other winter classics for the kids. Prices start at $69/per person for adults with discounts for youth attendees.
8. Private chef service at home
For those who crave a unique culinary experience, look no further. Quebec City chef Maxime Lizotte brings his Indigenous roots from the Maliseet First Nation of Viger to his locally-based avant-garde culinary style with his business, Wigwam. His private chef services, meal kits and food products feature wild Quebec ingredients, modern techniques and the oldest methods of food preservation such as drying, smoking and fermentation. Personal boxes start at $45, with his in-house services starting at $60 per person for a group of four.
Have a friend who loves sweets with a twist? Gift them a bottle of Wabanaki Maple: this Indigenous, female-owned maple syrup company located in the Tobique First Nation community in New Brunswick specializes in three signature flavours—bourbon, whisky and toasted oak—each hand-crafted and aged in small batches. Individual bottles start at just $12 each, but we strongly recommend sampling all three!
10. A brewery tour—from the comfort of home
Fredericton, Atlantic Canada’s craft brewing capital, is home to 11 taprooms offering a huge variety of beers and ciders in unique individual settings. The beer buff will appreciate the printable map along with a selection of New Brunswick craft beers from each designated stop to inspire their next trip out East, starting at $3 a piece. Download the map for free!
11. Specialty salts
Save this one for the foodie who has everything. Every home cook may have a box of quality salt, but do they have artisanal, hand-crafted Newfoundland sea salt flavoured from the flower buds picked from alder trees? The Newfoundland Salt Company sells stocking-stuffer sized samples for $7, or go bigger with gift sets of three different flavours for $40.
12. A day of hiking and dining
For the outdoorsy foodie, this working maple farm, woodlot and restaurant in the Cobequid Hills of Nova Scotia makes an idyllic exploring destination. Stop by the Sugar Moon Farm, go for a hike in the sugar woods and finish the day off at their restaurant for maple-inspired cuisine. Gift cards start at $10.
For the tea drinker, pick up a bag of premium loose-leaf tea from this small Prince Edward Island company. Lady Baker’s carries an impressive selection of black, green, oolong and flavoured varieties, including holiday selections like ‘Vienna Eggnog’ and ‘Christmas Garland.’ If it’s too overwhelming to choose, you can always go with a cheerful (and affordable) stocking-stuffer sample pack for $5.
14. Cheeses deemed ‘best of the cellar’
For the cheese lover in your life, gift an artisanal wheel of gouda cheese from PEI’s Glasgow Glen Farm. You may even inspire them to visit the farm, where they can dine al fresco at a picnic table overlooking the Clyde River. Five different selections of the cheesemaker’s choice costs $80.
15. Premium bottle of single malt whisky
For those who appreciate bespoke single malts, send a bottle from this Yukon company started by a couple of buddies who were inspired to go into business together while on a canoe trip. Two Brewers makes whisky in small batches with a variety of malted roasted grains and fermentation techniques, so no two releases are ever the same. Order their latest batch from select stores in B.C., Alberta, Quebec and Yukon, starting from $120 per bottle.
16. A cookbook that will inspire and delight
For those who love to devour and discover through cookbooks, Niqiliurniq: A Cookbook from Igloolik was compiled by five women living in Igloolik, Nunavut, who wanted to teach people in their community to link country food – like seal, arctic char and caribou – with the types of food available in stores, and empower them with an alternative to prepackaged foods. Purchase it online for $24.
For the hipster brewhouse fan, cozy clothing and paraphernalia is just the thing to show off their excellent taste in beer. Winter patio lovers will need to dress warm when enjoying a drink outside this winter once restrictions lift, so this toque sold by NWT Brewing Company, based in Yellowknife, is the perfect accessory for beer lovers who won’t let a little snow stop them. Pick one up for $30.
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail’s Globe Content Studio on behalf of Destination Canada. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.
CREDITS: Concept and editing by JESSICA ROBINSON; Art direction, design and development by JEANINE BRITO; Gift guide collages by AMY MCNEIL; Project management by CHRISTINA LIPPA