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Uniquely Canadian gifts for arts aficionados

By Monika Sofrenovic
Marketing Specialist

Let the good times roll 

The holidays just aren’t quite the holidays without a great read, fine art to admire, or a mint-condition record to spin. In fact, think of this list like an ultimate playlist. Only, instead of all your favourite jams from 2003, it’s gift ideas that are artsy, clever and just plain fun. Browse proudly Canadian-produced artwork, beautiful handmade crafts, buzzworthy books, engaging boardgames, music finds and more!

Books, Games and Music

If that special someone needs to scratch their Francophone literary itch, Hachette distributes works from more than 130 French and Quebecois publishers! Browse anything and everything from youth fiction and manga to the latest thrillers.

Price range: $$

This isn’t your run-of-the mill second-hand book shop. Hardly. Ink Drinkers Booktique founders (and best friends) Candice and Kristen painstakingly hand-select and curate every gently-loved selection they carry. Sift through their generous online catalogue and treat your fellow bookworms to a new buzzworthy read!  

Price range: $

Family-run, Calgary-based boardgame publisher Variable Outcomes is here to save the tabletop game industry from board-dom. How? With high-quality, immersive games that offer bucketloads of replay value and swashbuckling adventures. If you’ve ever dreamed about romping around 17th century Scotland, be sure to check out their signature offering, Outlander: The Board Game!

Price range: $-$$

Feeling Game of Thrones withdrawal? Dive into the rich, fantasy universe of the Nine Worlds! Canadian novelist Victoria Goddard’s works bring together a cast of memorable characters and layered plots. What’s more, her books can be tackled as a continuous series or standalone stories. The way you tackle the entire Nine Worlds journey is up to you.

Price range: $

A Toronto-based,independent bookstore, TYPE Books, offers gifts, puzzles and a thoughtfully chosen book selection that’ll tickle the fancy of serious literary types and casual readers alike. For the more adventurous: fill out a questionnaire and let the Type Books staff fill a “mystery bag” of literary goodness based on you (or your special someone’s) tastes.   

Price range: $ – $$

 Octopus Books is a woman-owned, independent bookstore in Ottawa that’s dedicated to promoting progressive literature. Their carefully curated book selection covers a range of topics, from Canadian and Indigenous fiction to international politics, sustainability and pop culture. Octopus Books also features a large children’s section with books on themes of social awareness, history, life skills and more.  

Price range: $ – $$

Pressland General is a cozy, retro-looking shop located in downtown Mission, B.C. They offer a range of gifts from locally made skincare products, to hilarious cards, classy stationary and rugged outdoor apparel. But wait—there’s more! Pressland General also boasts their own screen-printing space, where you can get custom-printed tees, vinyl stickers and more created for that extra personal touch.   

Price range: $ – $$ 

Every single book at Secondhand Stories is generously donated by Ottawa-based community members and sold for $5. And the best part? 100% of the proceeds go towards The Sweet Sanctuary Animal Rescue, which helps horses and farm animals that have suffered neglect or abuse. This, friends, is a fantastic way to buy for the bookworm on your list AND save animals at the same time. With new books added every Saturday, you’ll want to keep coming back to browse their latest inventory.  

Price range: $

 It’s pretty much a scientific fact: people come together over card games. With that in mind, Basecamp Cards has come up with “conversational card decks.” They contain simple questions, like, “What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done for fun,” or “What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten,” designed to kickstart storytelling and open communication. Break out a deck of these cards with your closest friends—and let the quirky conversation flow!  

Price range: $ 

 When it comes to vinyl records, Kops Records has been a Toronto institution since they first set up shop in 1976. Whether you’re sifting through their bins in store—or browsing online, Kops boasts over 40,000 new and used titles. Expect to find anything from today’s pop chart toppers, to punk, soul and international tracks. Trust us: there’s a certain satisfaction that comes with tracking down that priced slab of vinyl for the analog enthusiast on your list.  

Price range: $ – $$  

Gadgets and tech

The worst thing about most phone cases? They’re made from cheap, polluting plastics. So, now, the people behind Pela are on a mission to prevent one billion pounds of waste with their lineup of plant-based plastic cases. Available in a whole range of styles from sensible to downright eccentric, Pela’s cases offer looks, durability and eco-consciousness for the smartphone-toting special someone on your list.

Price range: $$

You can tell a lot about a person just by their choice in phone case. Are they care-free bon vivants? Deep-thinking dreamers? Rugged realists? Kase Me cases are all about making a bold statement by transforming your humble smartphone into a piece of individual art. Pick from a massive selection of bold, beautiful designs, or create your own custom case using a favourite photo.

Price range: $-$$

Front and Company, fournisseur de longue date de vêtements et de cadeaux en consignation établi à Vancouver, répond à vos besoins en matière de bas de Noël. Faites votre choix parmi une foule de cadeaux technologiques cools et uniques qui sauront satisfaire toutes les lubies. Vous trouverez de tout, des étuis de téléphone élégants et des lumières pour les diffusions en direct aux pistolets de massage et aux lumières disco pour iPhone! Après tout, pourquoi pas?

Fourchette de prix : $-$$

If they say a plain ol’ pen is mightier than the sword…where would a Brettoni pen score on the mightiness scale? Since 1992, Windsor, Ontario-based Brettoni has been handcrafting their distinctive writing instruments with exotic materials, like gold, antique brass and diamond dust, from around the globe. Pure pen perfection for the stylish scribes on your list!

Price range: $$$

Arts and Crafts

We’ve found knitting Nirvana. And it’s at the Knitting Loft in Toronto, Ontario. Treat the hardcore yarn lovers in your life to high-quality knitting supplies, accessories and so much more! The Knitting Loft specializes in offering a unique selection of natural fibre, indie-dyed and rustic yarns. So, you’ll score points for originality with every stitch!  

Price range: $-$$$

Bayan Creations has thoughtful gifts for your Muslim friends covered this holiday season. Their high-quality wall art and merchandise is designed to inspire and uplift, while weaving together Arabic calligraphy, Islamic values and flowing design.

Price range: $-$$$

It’s never been easier to inject style and character into your home! Toronto’s Wall Art Mama offers a massive selection of original, printable, high-resolution wall art. There’s something for just about every taste—from funky, vintage-inspired art to beautiful, photographic pieces.

Price range: $

Galerie Go Art’s raison d’etre, if you will, is to offer up distinctive, affordable artwork while supporting and amplifying the work of local mid-career and female artists. Browse through a stunning selection of sculpture, watercolour works, abstract prints and more.

Price range: $$$

Turn a pal’s pet into the most purr-fect masterpiece! Simply upload a favourite photo, and the artistes at Paint My Pooch turn it into a stunning, lovingly painted portrait that’s practically dripping with personality. Looking for something a little more portable? No sweat. Paint My Pooch creates custom pet mugs and phone cases too.

Price range: $-$$

Everyone has a special place they call home, where they first fell in love, or even had a memorable adventure. Sadie and June offer a collection of simple but striking hand-stitched red hearts on vintage maps. They’re a powerful, personalized way to celebrate the places and people you hold dear.  

Price range: $ – $$

Have someone in mind with a deep love for all things calligraphy? Hamilton, Ontario-based Quills offers a whole range of calligraphy supplies—including inks, nibs, quills and stationery—as well as handcrafted prints and gifts. For the people on your list looking to dip a toe (or quill) into the art of calligraphy, there’s even in-person and digital workshops to explore.  

Price range: $ – $$$

Get your cuddle on with these seriously adorable plushies from Atelieh. Every plushie is handmade from 100% sustainably sourced Canadian wool. And here’s something that’ll really give you the warm n’ fuzzies: every plushie purchased directly supports local farmers and artisans.

Price range: $ – $$

Whitby, Ontario-based Carli D Collective specializes in producing handmade resin coasters and platters and modern art home décor accents that inject style into any space. Plus, for those looking to try out resin art for themselves, Carli D Collective offers all-in-one project starter kits.  
Price range: $ – $$

Started in a 100-year-old barn with a saw and a stack of wood, Made in a Barn is a family-run business that creates eye-catching, wood-carved décor and luxurious charcuterie boards that are stylish and rustic all at once.  

Price range: $ – $$$

Ignite the fire and passion in your special someone’s art collection! Fire Art is the brainchild of artist Shauna Liora, whose travels to the Arctic Circle inspired her to combine ink and fire—yes, actual fire—on ceramic tile to create vibrant, immersive wilderness scenes. Check out her collection of prints and original works for the person on your list who craves something unique!  

Price range: $ – $$$ 

Based in Sault Ste. Marie, Northern Workshop creates artisan crafts and accessories with wood sourced from local lumber yards. Everything they produce is made to order—so whether you’re looking for some gorgeous hand-carved décor for the living room, or a cutting board for the kitchen—every single piece is completely unique.  

Price range: $ – $$

Sony’s Studio is run by Toronto-based artist Sony Johny and the lively, quirky art she produces is all about drawing joy from the little things in life. Browse her selection of posters, clothing and accessories—all guaranteed to put a smile on your loved one’s face.  

Price range: $ – $$

Want to grab a completely unique piece for that special someone? The people behind ARTWRK give talented artists a place to present their artwork online, where it can be purchased and shipped directly from the artist to you! Be sure to check out ARTWRK’s curated Holiday Gift Guide selection of their favourite pieces.  

Price range: $$ – $$$ 

Think you’ve scratched the artistic itch for everyone on your list? The next step is to check out CIRA’s full .CA gift guide for even more excellent recommendations for your family and friends.

About the author
Monika Sofrenovic

Monika Sofrenovic is the Marketing Specialist at CIRA. She is a recent graduate of Carleton University with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Marketing.