Summer is the season for everything fresh, local, and handmade. Whether you’re shopping for uncommon souvenirs or an original hostess gift for a patio party, you can’t go wrong with something handcrafted in Canada. Here are Toronto’s top five boutiques for summer shopping, specializing in top-quality, distinctive Canadiana created by modern artists, artisans, and designers.
Fine craftsmanship is celebrated at BRIKA on Queen West. Already well established online, BRIKA’s new storefront boutique has not been open for long, but is quickly building a loyal fan base due to its finely crafted products from a wide range of talented, modern artisans. Here, you can browse a swoon-worthy selection of modern Canadiana including ceramic trivets and coasters in geometric patterns by Xenia Taler, jazzy Combs tea towels printed with eco-friendly water-based inks, and fragrant small-batch Campy candles with an impressive 80 hours of burn time. Items are already boxed for gift giving with cute illustrations for events such as “Breakfast in Bed” or “It’s Your Birthday.”
As much a gallery space as a boutique, Mjölk on design row in the hip neighbourhood of The Junction features top-quality work by artisans from Scandinavia, Japan, and Canada. You’ll find inspired furniture, lighting, and housewares by modern Canadian producers such as Castor, which partnered with Canada’s oldest gas lamp manufacturer to create chrome oil lamps perfect for lighting up a summer patio. Unlike old-school gas lamps, this modern reinvention of a classic is a minimalist cylinder that’s as sleek and graceful as a sculpture, ideal for urban life. Other treasures include graceful geometric vases created by celebrated porcelain artist Alissa Coe of Toronto.
Drake General Store
Packed as full of goodies as a candy store, the quirky Drake General Store, tucked in the artsy Drake Hotel, delivers a dose of fun along with its selection of new generation Canadiana. Browse an eclectic selection of all-Canadian products including CBC Hockey Night in Canada toques, Hudson’s Bay blanket throws, and Mountie-themed wares. A set of rustic stone coasters from Madoc, Ontario would make a welcome hostess gift if you’re lucky enough to score an invitation to a friend’s cottage. The Drake’s own line of certified organic body products comes emblazoned with historic dates such as 1967 Body Wash, 1984 Wellness Gel, and 1867 Hand Cream. They evoke memories of Expo, the first space mission, and Confederation.
Combine time spent gazing at the sparkling waters of Lake Ontario with some summer shopping therapy at Harbourfront’s Centre Shop, a boutique where many of the one-of-a-kind accessories, gifts, and toys have been created by artists-in-residence at the on-site Craft & Design Studio. Top sellers include eco-friendly, organic baby clothing and slippers handmade in Toronto. The shop’s collection of cheerful stuffed animals and puppets such as giraffes, unicorns, and penguins are so cuddly they’re guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any baby or toddler. Staples include a fine selection of eco-stationary made locally in Toronto.
Logan & Finley
Stepping into Logan & Finley on trendy Queen Street West is like taking a deep breath of fresh air. Its whitewashed walls are lined with eco-friendly products, from clothing to candles, that are kind to the planet and to people. Must-have items for summer include nature-inspired kitchen linens by Pi’lo and hand-poured soy candles by the Citchen Candle Co, two Toronto companies with loads of style. Also check out the Miik line of clothing for women. Slip on one of these blazers and you’ll look tailored enough for a corporate boardroom, but the soft, sustainable fabric is so comfy you’ll feel as though you’re wearing your pajamas. For men, there’s the summer collection by Kovalum, an independent Canadian clothing label featuring hip, tailored shirts in seersucker, cotton, and lightweight denim, all produced in a socially-responsible way.