SHOP­PING: MORE THAN SOU­VENIRS

2017 Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY LAURA BYRNE PAQUET

Savvy trav­ellers should ar­rive in Canada with a bit of empty space in their lug­gage, since the coun­try is full of shop­ping op­por­tu­ni­ties—whether one’s taste runs to his­toric farm­ers’ mar­kets, deal­packed fash­ion out­lets, lively neigh­bour­hoods, spa­cious malls or sleek mu­seum shops.

As for what to buy, the choices range from maple syrup and saska­toon berry jam to Inuit soap­stone carv­ings and high-end fash­ion. Per­haps a sec­ond suit­case would be wise.

HIT THE MALL

Many ur­ban malls aim them­selves squarely at fash­ion-con­scious shop­pers. In Ot­tawa, the CF Rideau Cen­tre re­cently com­pleted a three-year, $360-mil­lion ex­pan­sion and wel­comed Nord­strom and Québec fash­ion re­tailer Si­mons, among oth­ers. At the York­dale Shop­ping Cen­tre in north­west Toronto, a $331-mil­lion ex­pan­sion in late 2016 brought the mall’s to­tal size to 185,806 sq. m (2 mil­lion sq. ft.). Down­town, the CF Toronto Ea­ton Cen­tre of­fers more than 250 stores and ser­vices in a multi-storey atrium; the com­plex is so big that it stretches across two sub­way stops

Even larger is the West Ed­mon­ton Mall —with more than 800 shops and ser­vices, it is Al­berta’s top tourist at­trac­tion and Canada’s largest shop­ping cen­tre. More than a mall, it also of­fers a Na­tional Hockey League­sized ice rink, the world’s largest in­door amuse­ment park and in­door wave pool, a zip-line, and an aquar­ium.

One of Canada’s most un­usual malls is the Aberdeen Cen­tre in Rich­mond, a Van­cou­ver sub­urb. Cus­tomers can shop for Asian herbs and Korean cos­met­ics, browse through a branch of Ja­pan’s Daiso bar­gain and nov­elty chain, en­joy Asian cul­tural per­for­mances, and sam­ple treats such as con­gee, bubble tea and noo­dles in the 800-seat food court.

SEEK AN OUT­LET

Out­let malls—fea­tur­ing a huge range of re­tail­ers, as well as restau­rants and ser­vices —are ex­cel­lent op­tions for vis­i­tors who want to spend the whole day shop­ping.

Vaughan Mills on Toronto’s north­ern out­skirts—one of 28 Ivan­hoé Cam­bridge re­tail cen­tres across the coun­try—of­fers a com­pli­men­tary shop­ping shut­tle ser­vice

from down­town Toronto dur­ing peak travel sea­sons, as well as sav­ings book­lets, gifts with min­i­mum pur­chase, coat and par­cel checks, free WiFi and dis­counts at nearby ho­tels. The mix of full-price and dis­count re­tail­ers in­cludes Saks Fifth Av­enue OFF 5TH, Tommy Hil­figer, Sephora, Vans and many more.

The com­pany’s new­est out­let mall is the Out­let Col­lec­tion in Win­nipeg, a 37,100-sq.-m (400,000-sq.-ft.) des­ti­na­tion with more than 100 re­tail­ers, slated to open in late spring.

There are many other out­let malls across the coun­try well worth a visit. In Rich­mond, Bri­tish Co­lum­bia, McArthurGlen is a five-minute drive from Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port and is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by the SkyTrain rapid tran­sit sys­tem. The com­plex is home to in­ter­na­tional names such as Coach, Ar­mani and Fos­sil. In Québec, the Pre­mium Out­lets com­plex near Mon­tréal at­tracts shop­pers with prom­ises of dis­counts of 25 to 65 per­cent on brands such as MaxMara and Gucci.

UNIQUE NEIGH­BOUR­HOODS

Across the coun­try, his­toric sites and pedes­trian-scaled neigh­bour­hoods are home to one-of-a-kind stores.

Along False Creek in Van­cou­ver, Granville Is­land is a one-time in­dus­trial site that was re­claimed and re­de­vel­oped in the 1970s. To­day, it fea­tures a farm­ers’ mar­ket, bak­eries, restau­rants, and ar­ti­sans craft­ing ev­ery­thing from pot­tery to sake.

Dat­ing back to the 1870s, Cal­gary’s In­gle­wood has re­cently evolved into a hip hub of gal­leries, mu­sic venues, cafés, and bou­tiques spe­cial­iz­ing in ev­ery­thing from bed­ding to spices. Its coun­ter­part in Saska­toon is Rivers­dale, once home to car­riage mak­ers and fur­ni­ture stores and now the site of two theatre com­pa­nies, the Saska­toon Sym­phony Or­ches­tra, a fash­ion de­sign school and scores of quirky shops. For vi­brant street life in re­tail-rich Mon­tréal, the Plateau Mont-Royal neigh­bour­hood is a good bet.

The Forks in Win­nipeg, a for­mer rail yard at the junc­tion of the Red and Assini­boine rivers, has been re­claimed and is now a hive of ac­tiv­ity. One of the city’s top tourist at­trac­tions, it is busy with restau­rants, spe­cialty re­tail­ers, a farm­ers’ mar­ket, out­door per­for­mance spaces and the landmark Cana­dian Mu­seum for Hu­man Rights.

Speak­ing of farm­ers’ mar­kets, sev­eral across the coun­try date back to the 1700s or early 1800s, in­clud­ing the Saint John City Mar­ket in New Brunswick, the By­Ward Mar­ket in Ot­tawa, the St. Lawrence Mar­ket in Toronto and the Hal­i­fax Sea­port Farm­ers’ Mar­ket.

Also in Hal­i­fax, a district of ship­ping ware­houses built in the early 19th cen­tury is now a pop­u­lar wa­ter­front des­ti­na­tion called the His­toric Prop­er­ties, where vis­i­tors can ex­plore a range of bou­tiques and en­joy pre­mium ice cream, craft beers and fresh seafood.

Fi­nally, one of Canada’s most pic­turesque shop­ping streets is the nar­row rue du Pe­tit-Cham­plain in Québec City. In De­cem­ber, when it is dec­o­rated with Christ­mas trees and usu­ally at least dusted with snow, it is like some­thing out of a Dick­ens novel—if Dick­ens had been French-Cana­dian.

ONLY IN CANADA

For many trav­ellers, the high­light of a trip is find­ing a unique item to bring home and proudly dis­play or give as a gift. For­tu­nately, Canada has no short­age of those.

Since the coun­try is cel­e­brat­ing its 150th an­niver­sary this year, the Royal Cana­dian Mint is sell­ing a wide va­ri­ety of beau­ti­ful com­mem­o­ra­tive coins. The 12-coin an­niver­sary col­lec­tion fea­tures a painted 25-cent piece and a glow-in-the-dark $2 coin, both em­bla­zoned with de­signs from the “My Canada, My In­spi­ra­tion” con­test. They are avail­able on-line and through the Mint’s bou­tiques in Ot­tawa, Win­nipeg and Van­cou­ver.

Mu­seum shops are ideal spots to find Cana­dian art­works, such as Inuit prints and soap­stone carv­ings, and First Na­tions and Métis paint­ings, carv­ings and sculp­tures. Craft gal­leries abound across the coun­try; one hot­bed is Fred­er­ic­ton, New Brunswick, home of the New Brunswick Col­lege of Craft and De­sign.

Many vis­i­tors re­turn home with some of Canada’s dis­tinc­tive foods, such as B.C. salmon, saska­toon berry jam from the Prairies, maple syrup from Cen­tral Canada, or bakeap­ple tea or pick­led fid­dle­heads from the East Coast. The fi­nal touch? A bot­tle of Canada’s fa­mous icewine. Brave vis­i­tors can also pick up a bot­tle of New­found­land screech, a hearty rum pop­u­lar in the east­ern­most prov­ince.

From out­let cen­tres and funky neigh­bour­hoods to malls and mu­seum shops, Canada has a wealth of choices for vis­i­tors look­ing to in­dulge in a bit of re­tail ther­apy.

VAUGHAN MILLS, ON • IVAN­HOÉ CAM­BRIDGE

BANFF, AB • BANFF & LAKE LOUISE TOURISM/PAUL ZIZKA

BY­WARD MAR­KET, OT­TAWA • ON TOURISM

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