We've had badges and T-shirts, flags, coffee cups, even erasers to commemorate Canada's 150th anniversary.
But Kevin Kent, owner of the Knifewear and Kent of Inglewood stores across Canada, wanted something different: an axe. A hand-forged Hudson Bay axe, like the ones that were used long ago by early explorers and Canadian settlers. An axe like the ones still used today by innumerable Canadian campers, farmers and outdoorsy people.
"Axes are the quintessential Canadian tool. They're part of our identity," Kent says. "Axes built Canada."
With that in mind, he approached S. A. Wetterlings, a renowned Swedish axe company, to make a special version of the axe to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. S.A. Wetterlings has been around since the 1800s and is one of the companies that originally made axes for the Hudson's Bay Company.
It took a while. But this month, 150 numbered Kent of Inglewood Limited Edition Hudson Bay Axes have been distributed to Knifewear and Kent of Inglewood locations across the country.
A little fancier than the average camping axe, each axe has a hickory-wood handle engraved with a maple-leaf motif and "1867." They retail for $250 apiece.
While some machinery is involved in the creation of each axe, each one is hand-assembled and hand-sharpened to ensure every Swedish carbon-steel edge is perfect.
Kent had hoped the axes would be in stores for July 1. But earlier this year, Wetterlings announced that it is merging with another Swedish company and has stopped its axe-making business. The shift meant productions delays, so the order didn't arrive in Canada until mid-July.
"They're a legacy piece," he says. "They're built to use and they're built to last several lifetimes if they're taken care of."
That said, at least one avid collector he knows has said he plans to hang it on his wall. "He wants two – one to use and one to hang by his fireplace," Kent says. "It's the axe as art."