16 Distinctively Canadian Things to Buy in Vancouver

16 Distinctively Canadian Things to Buy in Vancouver

British Columbia, in general, and Vancouver, in particular, are among the top Canadian destinations worth being explored. The amalgam of aboriginal and western cultures, Vancouver is a treasure trove of distinctively Canadian delights that are not found anywhere else. Most of these items make for an ideal gift to take home and can be found easily with the help of this guide!
(To visit the venues mentioned in this article, check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Vancouver)
Image Courtesy of: cobalt123

1. Contemporary Art and Glass

Contemporary Art and Glass
There are a few artists “extraordinaire” in Vancouver who specialize in glass blowing and glass art. These studios produce items of every size, shape and description. The “hot shops”, as they are called, can often be viewed by the public who watch, entranced, as a beautiful piece of art is shaped and formed. Various techniques are used to produce this popular art form and these range from high tech, state-of-the-art with many employees involved, to one-man studios using only basic equipment and techniques. The array of items is endless; the potential for a unique piece exceptional and there are a range of prices to suit any pocket book, from as low as $20.00 to $3000.00 plus, depending on design. New- Small and Stirling has their own lines of hand-blown glass created by designer David New-Small; they also represent over 50 Canadian glass artists who regularly have their work on display in their gallery for exhibitions.
Where to find it:
New- Small and Stirling Glass Studio, 1440 Old Bridge Street, Granville Island, Vancouver, BC
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With GPSmyCity App you can read this article offline on your mobile device, use the embedded offline city map and GPS navigation, as well as create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured in the article.

2. First Nations - Jewellery

First Nations - Jewellery
Vancouver, by its very nature, is steeped in First Nations culture, and this includes art and artwork of every kind and design. First Nations peoples are specifically known for their fine articles of jewellery, which are both contemporary and modern in design and interpretation. Interpretation is really the mainstay of many of these fine jewellery pieces, as they encompass legends that are inherent in the natural world, such as raven, eagle, frog, whale, hummingbird and wolf. Therefore, many of these finely-crafted items will contain one of these original designs by talented goldsmiths trained in this tradition. There are many establishments in and around Vancouver, such as the Vancouver Art Gallery, that sell these items. The pieces are handmade and, therefore, valuable additions to any gift list. Prices begin at about $60.00 and go up from there, depending on item.
Where to find it:
Artina’s Hand Crafted Canadian Jewellery: 387 Water St. Vancouver BC
Offline reading and travel directions:
With GPSmyCity App you can read this article offline on your mobile device, use the embedded offline city map and GPS navigation, as well as create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured in the article.

3. Umbrellas

A trip to Vancouver always requires one thing – a good umbrella! Umbrellas can be purchased in a variety of locations, but there is one family-owned and operated location on Granville Island that has made their own umbrellas since 1935. The Umbrella Shop has a variety of colors, styles and designs that cannot be surpassed and this is the only company in Canada that still makes their own umbrellas – which can include a custom umbrella order. These handmade products are bit more expensive, ranging in price from $60.00 to approximately $100.00. However, once you have purchased this quality item, you will likely have it for a “rainy day” for many years to come.
Where to find it:
The Umbrella Shop: 1106 W. Broadway, Vancouver BC; 526 W. Pender St., Vancouver BC
Offline reading and travel directions:
With GPSmyCity App you can read this article offline on your mobile device, use the embedded offline city map and GPS navigation, as well as create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured in the article.

4. Chocolates

Image Courtesy of: PRORuth Hartnup
A visit to Vancouver should always include chocolate. There are two well-respected and well-known chocolate makers in Vancouver that are longstanding operators of quality chocolate and candy items. One of these is Purdy’s, which is usually seen in any mall in the lower Mainland, while the other is Rogers. The first Rogers’ chocolates were made in 1885 by Charles (Candy) Rogers in his grocery store in Victoria. This backroom business soon became a surprising success and still is to this very day. Their variety is astounding and uniquely Victorian. You can purchase an entire box or just taste one. Prices are in the range of specialty chocolates and can be as little as $2.00 apiece or up to $60.00 for a large variety box. Worldwide shipping is available.
Where to find it:
Rogers’ Chocolates: 1571 Johnson Street (Granville Island) Vancouver, BC (various other locations)

Purdy’s Chocolates: 8330 Chester Street, Vancouver, BC

5. Handmade Soap

Handmade Soap
The theme of this gift list appears to be organic, hand-made and recycled, and the business of soap making in Vancouver follows along the same lines. There are many soap makers, some located on Granville Island, others on Robson Street, and many are situated in malls in every location in the greater Vancouver area. Granville Island Soap Gallery is one of the most interesting places you will ever see, especially since, when entering the shop, nothing looks there like soap!

All of the items are handcrafted to represent everything, from cake to flowers. All soap is made on site with the use of only the best ingredients, such as essential oils. There are no fillers or by-products used. This shop even has an “organic program”, which means that if you bring the container back from your purchase, you will receive a discount when it is refilled. Prices vary from as little as $1.25 to as much as $500.00. Items can be custom-made for individual gifts and your very own gift idea – for that very special person.
Where to find it:
Granville Island Soap Gallery: #104-1535 Johnston St. (Granville Island) Vancouver BC
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6. Native Sculpture – Inukshuk

Native Sculpture – Inukshuk
Inukshuk, stone figures are seen in many locations around Vancouver. The meaning of these sculptures is “in the likeness of human” in the Intuit language. The Inuit culture is one in which Vancouverites are familiar and visitors will soon begin to notice. Inuit sculptures come in every size, shape and form. If they are in human form, they are called “inunnguaq”. For untold centuries, they were placed and used for a variety of reasons, such as navigation or directional aids, to mark a place of respect or even to indicate the migratory routes of fish.

They can be arranged simply as a single sculpture or, sometimes in sequence, to mark a specific place, specifically as a memorial for a beloved person. The Inuit culture is well-known for their beautiful soap stone carvings, often depicting animals. Many high-quality items are available in the Vancouver area that range from prints to paintings, masks, native-designed apparel and jewellery. Prices vary from very inexpensive to very costly.
Where to find it:
Inukshuk Gallery: 101-1551 Johnston St. (Granville Island) Vancouver BC
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7. Ceramics

Image Courtesy of: Blake Handley
The production of an array of ceramic and pottery items is notable throughout the province of BC and is showcased in Vancouver, specifically on Granville Island. There are a number of quality ceramic outlets and many do take and make custom orders. These items range from the purely functional, such as cups, pots, plates, cookware, to the absolutely unique. Prices range from as little as $20.00 up to $800.00 and above.

Because Vancouver has a notable film industry, ceramic and pottery makers are sometimes asked to provide items for movie sets. An expert ceramics maker can replicate virtually any item of function or design a customer requests. Granville Island is a location in Vancouver that is well-known for artists involved in this craft. If you would like to watch this process and see how articles are made, then a trip to Daniel Materna Ceramics is definitely the place to go. Daniel is a master at his craft and does cater to a sundry of requests from the Vancouver film industry.
Where to find it:
Daniel Materna Ceramics: 1499 Old Bridge St. (Granville Island) Vancouver, BC

8. Salmon

Few places in the world are as renowned for the king of all fish, “salmon”, as Vancouver. There are a number of places in the lower mainland that sell and ship fresh salmon. Granville Island, however, is the place where most visitors go to sample this exceptional product. Salmon gift packs are good until opened and require no refrigeration. Salmon can be packed frozen for travel and is guaranteed up to 48 hours of the original purchase time. Vendors offer a wide variety of fresh and smoked fish and are usually open 7 days a week in most locations. No visit to Vancouver is complete without a meal of “fresh salmon” and the smoked variety makes a perfect take-home gift.
Where to find it:
Longliner Seafoods: 1689 Johnston St. Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9 Granville Island/False Creek.
Phone number (604) 681-9016

9. Gems and Rocks

Gems and Rocks
There are a number of shops in Vancouver that make jewellery from gemstones. One very rare stone is called Ammolite and is mined in Alberta. The rock shown in the picture has a value of more than $90,000. A variety of jewellery is made from this stone, as well as from other gems, such as agate, BC jade, fresh water coral, and crystal, just to name a few. This shop sells pre-made products, but also makes jewellery specifically at a customer's request. This may include a variety of healing stones possessing positive energy. The shop also displays an array of beads in any color. BC jade is a specifically West Coast product, if green is your color of choice. Prices range from $20.00 to $180.00.
Where to find it:
Gems and Rocks Vancouver: 313 Water St (Gastown), Vancouver, BC;

Jade West Group Ventures: 4-375 Water Street, Vancouver, BC
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10. Organic Children’s Wear

Organic Children’s Wear
Vancouver is well-known as a city that pays attention to the environment and appreciates items and articles that have a natural organic quality. If you want to buy a gift for a child, then Parade Organics is definitely the place to come. This store is located conveniently in the downtown core and primarily in the Gastown location, a favourite part of the city for many visitors. Parade Organics offers a “pure collection” of items, from the modern layette to mix and match rompers, with sizes ranging from newborn to toddler. All products are made of the finest organic materials and many are made by local manufacturers. Here, you can get an item of quality for a child on your list. Prices range from $5.00 to approximately $60.00.
Where to find it:
Parade Organics: 2358 Cambie St. (Gastown) Vancouver, BC

11. Murchie's Tea and Coffee

Murchie's Tea and Coffee
“A Tradition Of Excellence” began over a century ago when John Murchie started his business in Vancouver focused on finding the finest in high-quality coffees and teas. The coffee is roasted to perfection while the teas are a mix of Murchie’s very own spices and spice blends. There are also a number of specialty products, including gourmet condiments, preserves and baked goods.

One of the reasons why Murchie’s is a Vancouver favourite is that they believe in buying their products from growers who provide fair wages, as well as schools and medical facilities for workers. Murchie’s only purchase shade-grown, high-grade, washed Arabica coffee beans. This blend is naturally lower in caffeine. Murchie’s selection includes gift packs to take home to your family and friends.
Where to find it:
825 W. Pender Street, Vancouver BC;

Oakridge Center, 45th and Cambie, Vancouver BC

12. Diamonds

Canada is known for mining exquisite diamonds and having world-famous jewellery designers. A few of them are situated on Granville Island. Many diamonds are produced in Canada in the Northwest Territories, the great Canadian North. These stones have many desirable attributes and are mined to the highest international standards. A jewellery shop with an excellent reputation, Michael Deane Jewellery Gallery features works by all Canadian designers; many of the items presented here are one of a kind. Pearls and silver, as well as gold and platinum, are used in the variety of designs available. Prices range from as little as $30.00 per piece to as much as $18,000. Custom designs are welcome and can be shipped anywhere in North America.
Where to find it:
Michael Dean Jewellery Gallery: 1808 Boatlift Lane (Granville Island) Vancouver BC
Birk’s Jewellery: 698 Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC

13. Vancouver Canucks Memorabilia

Vancouver Canucks Memorabilia
No trip to Vancouver would be complete without a gift for yourself, or someone else for that matter, with the famous Vancouver Canuck Hockey Team Logo on it. Canada is known around the world as a country that truly loves hockey. Vancouver, in turn, is in love with the Vancouver Canucks Hockey Team and many items featuring their logo, from customized jerseys to hockey pucks, can be purchased.

Of course, there are many other items available too, such as flags, towels, scarves and key rings – just to name a few. Whatever defines hockey can be found in the Canucks Hockey Store. Items range from as little as $10.00 for scarf up to $700.00 for a pre-worn jersey. Jerseys usually range from $140.00 - $330.00, depending on your choice – of which there are many.
Where to find it:
There are 2 locations in Vancouver
Vancouver Canucks Team Store
Rogers Arena – Gate 6, 800 Griffiths Way, Vancouver BC

1151 Robson Street, Vancouver BC
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14. Handmade Cowichan Sweaters

Handmade Cowichan Sweaters
Image Courtesy of: Bronwyn Guiton
Cowichan sweaters are made by native artists using raw sheep’s wool. The natural hues of the wool, white, gray and black, are spun into distinctive patterns. The secret patterns are unique to the Coast Salish aboriginal women and have been passed down from generation to generation. The sweaters are not only warm, but also naturally waterproof, since the wool retains much of its natural lanolin. These sweaters have been made into gifts for kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers, as well as many other visiting dignitaries.

Hill’s Native Art is North America’s largest Northwest Coast Native Art Gallery. It has been showcasing the talents of the West Coast artists since 1946. The gallery displays not only sweaters, but also has three floors full of one of a kind distinctive artwork, such as native masks, sculptures, carvings and jewellery. The Cowichan sweater is one of Vancouver’s best-known products. The sweaters range in price from $200.00 to $235.00. Also available here are vests, hats, gloves, socks, slippers and a sundry of other hand-knitted items.
Where to find it:
Hills Native Art: 165 Water Street (Gastown), Vancouver, BC

15. Coastal Native Art

Coastal Native Art
Vancouver is famous for coastal native art. Much of these art collections are museum-quality and their focus is the masterwork of the Inuit and Northwest coast artists. Along with a chance to purchase some of the items, visitors to Vancouver can explore numerous exhibitions that are ongoing and showcase the work of Canadian artists that are internationally known. The Spirit Wrestler Gallery is a leading contemporary fine art gallery representing master Inuit, Northwest Coast and Māori artists.

Many of the Vancouver Galleries focus on aboriginal art that is designed to include cross-cultural communication. Materials, such as glass and metal, are also incorporated into some of the pieces. Very often, the art forms are interpretations of shamanism and include environmental concerns and/or issues relative to the changing world. Among the displayed items there are masks, totem poles, panels, bentwood boxes, rattles, paddles, drums and an assortment of furnishings. Prices vary.
Where to find it:
Spirit Wrestler Gallery: 47 Water Street, (Gastown) Vancouver, BC

Inuit Gallery of Vancouver: 206 Cambie St. (Gastown) Vancouver, BC

16. Athletic Apparel

Athletic Apparel
Image Courtesy of: Michael Kwan (Freelancer)
One of Vancouver’s success stories is Lululemon. This store specializes in Vancouver’s favourite attire – yoga athletic apparel. This is a clothing line that may have started out small, but has become a world-wide phenomenon since its beginnings in 1998. The first store was opened in Kitsilano, but currently there are over 40 stores across Canada, 38 stores in the United States, and seven stores in Australia. This can only tell you one thing.

Lululemon sells exceptional athletic wear. Items include sports bras, tanks, tops, jackets and hoodies, crops, pants, shorts, skirts and dresses, socks and underwear, as well as scarves, mitts and toques. Prices vary but begin with scarves in around the $18.00 range to tanks beginning at $39.00 and up. The ideology inherent in the Lululemon line is “creating components for people to live longer, healthier and more fun lives”.
Where to find it:
Downtown Vancouver: 1148 Robson St., Vancouver, BC

Kitsilano: 2113 W 4th Ave., Vancouver, BC
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Other Interesting Souvenirs from Canada

If you are outside Canada and have no immediate plans to visit the country soon, or you don't want to carry too much luggage on your way home, these days you can find a wide selection of authentic and truly interesting Canadian souvenirs online. Presented here are some of the top Canadian products sought by foreign visitors, now available online for your convenience.

1. Dream Catchers - 100% handcrafted in Canada - Authentic craft of native Canadians, these guardian artifacts were originally made by Shamans to prevent bad dreams from getting into the dreamer's mind. Caught up in the web, the bad dreams would get burnt up by Sun in the morning, while the good dreams glided down into the dreamers' mind during the night. Traditionally, dream catchers are hung near the sleeper.

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Walking Tours in Vancouver, Canada

Create Your Own Walk in Vancouver

Create Your Own Walk in Vancouver

Creating your own self-guided walk in Vancouver is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Vancouver Yaletown Walking Tour

Vancouver Yaletown Walking Tour

For many years, Yaletown was the thriving industrial heart of Vancouver. Today, this historic neighborhood looks unlike any other part of the city and is considered to be the home of Vancouver's "elite" society.

The Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre is a prominent landmark here, serving as a hub for art exhibitions and recreational activities. Its historic...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Vancouver Chinatown Walking Tour

Vancouver Chinatown Walking Tour

Vancouver's Chinatown is the second-largest Chinese-centered area in North America. As such, it has long attracted hordes of tourists with its expressive culture, inexpensive but delicious food, and fabulous traditional architecture.

The very first landmark that welcomes visitors entering Chinatown is the grand, ornate structure called the Millennium Gate. With its intricate architectural...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Gastown Walking Tour

Gastown Walking Tour

To get the feel of authentic Vancouver, head for the Gastown district. This is where the city was born: an ex-sailor turned gold prospector built an inn here in the late 19th century and a small settlement, mostly of mill workers, dockhands and merchants, sprang up around it. Many of the streets in Gastown are still cobblestoned and you will find lovely examples of Victorian buildings that have...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles