The Essential Northern Ontario Holiday Gift Guide 2023

Our official gift guide is back and bigger than ever! Discover 24 brilliant and beautiful products to suit everyone on your list—all made here in Ontario.
christmas tree graphic

Let's face it: as fun as holiday giving can be, coming up with fresh gift ideas each year for your loved ones can be a challenge, especially for the ones who "don't want anything", or who already have everything! Well, don't dismay, because it just so happens that Northern Ontario is chock-full of creative people who make such a variety of unique, beautiful, practical, local goods (and experiences) that you can shop locally and find a one-of-kind gift that will bring a little sparkle to anyone you're buying for. Here are some of my favourite ideas this season to get you started. Happy shopping! 

1. Beaded Earrings

two sets of round, handbeaded earrings in purple, turquoise and green tones on a white fur background.

Maker: Looks by Logan
Made in: Garden River First Nation    
Made for: The style maven      

Anishinaabe artisan Logan Perreault’s hand-beaded earrings are one-of-a-kind, and feature striking gemstones, pop-culture references and symbols of Perreault’s Indigenous heritage, alongside her intricate, stunning beadwork.

Buy here.

2. Manitoulin Island Hiking Trail Guide

A book called Manitoulin Island Hiking Trails

Maker: Heirloom Island
Made in: Sudbury    
Made for:  The step counter

Heirloom Island’s Julieanne Murphy-Steedman highlights more than 40 of Manitoulin’s hiking trails in this paperback tome which, at a slim 72 pages, is small enough to slip into a backpack before you head out for your hike. Trails are ranked by type and ability level, and feature tips on local attractions and places to eat near each trail.

Buy here.

3. Queer Sudbury Stickers

Hand holding up a sticker that reads Slag Queen.

Maker: Matti Lehtelä
Made in: Sudbury    
Made for:  Everyone

With cheeky, winking references to local landmarks such as The Big Nickel and, of course, Highway 69, these stickers will add some local pride to your summer Pride celebrations. 

Buy here.

4. Firestarters

a large bucket of Buckstone "Firestarters" individual kindling packets

Maker: Buckstone
Made in: Callander    
Made for: The underprepared camper

Sure, this gift is a little less-than-glamorous, but if you have a seasoned camper or backpacker on your list who always seems to need a little help kitting out their, well, kit, these quick-start firestarters will be appreciated. (You can also divide this case of 50 into stocking stuffers for everyone!) 

Buy here.

5. A Northern Lights Print

Northern Lights photos hanging on a wall over a green couch.

Maker: Wanda Kabel Easton
Made in: Sioux Narrows    
Made for: Art aficionados

Wanda Kabel Easton’s bright, evocative Northern Lights photography will bring a little bit of the Northern Ontario winter to the home of anyone on your list, whether they live in the region or simply want to remember a remarkable visit. 

Buy here.

6. Camp Sauce

a bottle of Camp Sauce

Maker: Heartbeat Hot Sauce
Made in: Thunder Bay    
Made for: Fans of Hot Ones

With medium heat, this hot sauce is a crowd-pleaser for spice tolerances of all levels. (Note: according to its Thunder Bay-based makers, it’s “camp” as in pitching a tent in the woods, not “camp” as in a cabin by the lake. But we’re sure it tastes great no matter where you’re unwinding!)

Buy here.

7. Cheese Box

Various cheeses displayed in a box on a red background.

Maker: Fromagerie Kapuskoise
Made in: Kapuskasing    
Made for: The gourmand

Fromagerie Kapuskoise is relatively new on the scene, but their cheeses – named after northern locales, like the creamy Mattagami or the seasonal Missinaïbi – are establishing the company as a must-visit for Kapuskasing locals and visitors alike. The Christmas box comes in three options, ranging in price from $65-$90, and pairs well with...

Buy here.

8. A Flight Board

A wooden flight board holding 3 small carafes of wine on top of a wooden wine cask, with wine bottles and glasses in the background.

Maker: Barn and Barrel
Made in: Powassan    
Made for: The wine or whiskey-lover

Barn and Barrel’s reclaimed flight boards are made from retired wine and whiskey barrels. Appropriately, they come in two formats: one can hold four small drams of whiskey, while another cradles three small carafes of wine.

Buy here.

9. Manoomin Wild Rice Tea

a small pile of wild rice chai tea

Maker: Teahorse
Made in: Thunder Bay    
Made for: The cozy cottager

The Ojibway word for wild rice, “manoomin” means “the good berry” and this tea, made with wild rice blended with black tea and masala spices, is about as good as it gets. 

Buy here.

10. Ceramic Citrus Juicer

A green ceramic citrus juicer

Maker:  Spore Ceramics
Made in: Sudbury    
Made for: The discerning home chef

Spore Ceramics’ elegant, refined home goods are as functional as they are fashionable, and none more so than this boreal green citrus juicer. Made with reclaimed clay, it’s an elevated take on the conventional kitchen tool that’s beautiful enough to achieve family heirloom status. 

Buy here.

11. Painted Postcards

a series of beautiful indigenous imagery painted postcards by Janelle Wawia

Maker:  Janelle Wawia
Made in: Red Rock Indian Band (Nipigon)    
Made for: The snowbird   

These beautiful postcards will let friends or family members who winter in warmer climes send dispatches from the beach while reminding them of home.

Buy here.

12. A Crochet Pattern

4 colourful crocheted scrunchies on a wrist

Maker: Feminist Fibre
Made in: Sudbury     
Made for: The crafty hibernator   

Sudbury-based Sarah Moreau, a.k.a. Feminist Fibre, makes her own beautiful crochet goods, you can also purchase one of their patterns to help DIY-inclined folks on your list pass the time – and maybe learn a new skill! – when winter temperatures simply prohibit venturing outside.   

Buy here.

13. An Amethyst Stone

3 framed pictures made out of amethyst stones arranged into elegant floral motifs

Maker: Thunder Bay amethyst mine
Made in: Thunder Bay    
Made for: The geologist-in-training     

A striking purple amethyst from Thunder Bay’s amethyst mine makes a perfect keepsake – and also a fascinating specimen to gift an amateur scientist. (Consider, too, planning a trip to the amethyst mine for a DIY amethyst-digging expedition!) 

Buy here.

14. Ghost Towns of Ontario’s Cottage Country

a book with plain white cover sporting the title "Ghost Towns of Ontario's Cottage Country", by Andrew Hind

Maker: Andrew Hind/Dundurn Press 
Made for: The history buff     

The flipside to Cottage Country’s vibrant culture is the dozens of abandoned towns and villages that span the area from the Kawarthas to Georgian Bay. In his book, Andrew Hind tells the stories of these once thriving towns, alongside many never-before-seen photographs of the settlements before they were left to nature.

Buy here.

15. Buffalo Check Mitts

a pair of red flannel checked mittens

Maker: My Ol Blues
Made in: Gore Bay, Manitoulin Island    
Made for: The accessorizer

These buffalo check mittens add a perfect pop of classic Canadiana to winter outfits – and they’re reversible, so they’ll match any look! The mitts are made of 100% fleece, so they’re guaranteed to keep hands warm in style. Plus, with sizes ranging from XS to XL, they’ll fit the whole family.

Buy here.

16. Northeastern Ontario Crewneck

a black crewneck sweater with a logo of a moose and "Northerneastern Ontario — The Seven" on the front

Maker: Northeastern Ontario Tourism
Designed in: North Bay   
Made for: The local tourist    

Whether you’re shopping for a local who wears their Northern Ontario pride on their sleeve — or, in this case, their chest — or an occasional visitor with a serious affection for the place, this cotton-blend crewneck is the perfect combo of cozy and seriously retro cool. 

Buy here.

17. A Stylish Nightshirt   

Nightshirt in blue and gold plaid

Maker: 49th apparel
Made in: Sault Ste. Marie      
Made for:  The home office worker    

There may be no piece of clothing on the planet better suited to rolling out of bed and rolling straight into the home office than the Emilia nightshirt from 49th Parallel. (And with a pair of opaque tights, a chunky cardi and the right boots, it could also double as a cute mini dress when you’re out and about – we won’t tell!) 

Buy here.

18. A Beary Cute Puzzle   

Wooden puzzle in the shape of a bear.

Maker: The Wooden Kind
Made in: Sudbury     
Made for: The under-five set   

The Wooden Kind’s handmade bear puzzle is a great way to fine-tune motor skills and can make a fun initiation into learning about Northern Ontario’s wild inhabitants.

Buy here.

19. A Macrame Pin Holder

a white macrame pin holder displaying pins and buttons

Maker: Sun and Soil
Made in: Sudbury    
Made for: The pin collector 

This adorable macrame wall hanger is a stylish, clever way to display enamel pins when they’re not being worn on a jacket or backpack. 

Buy here.

20. DIY Moccasins  

A bunch of feet wearing moccasins placed in a circle in the winter snow.

Maker:  Lure of the North Outfitters  
Made in: Espanola    
Made for: The bushcrafter     

Lure of the North, founded by Alone contestant Kielyn Marrone and her husband, Dave, specializes in lasting outdoor gear that’s made for below-zero adventures. Once completed, these moccasins will be a pair of warm, long-lasting footwear, perfect for winter camping (and campfires). Check out this link or visit Lure of the North of Facebook for Kielyn's moccasin-making demo.

Buy here.

For the Friend Who Has Everything

Sometimes, there are folks on our holiday shopping lists who are just impossible to buy for. For them, here are some Northern Ontario experiences to consider.

  • A Guided ATV Tour

    Mukwa, in Massey, is an Indigenous-owned company that provides guided four-wheeler tours. Choose from a half-day trip to a full weekend excursion, complete with safety guidance, meal and snack breaks, and luxury accommodations. 

  • The Wild Rice Experience

    Learn how Canada’s Indigenous communities traditionally harvest, treat, and consume wild rice at a two-day, hands-on retreat, dedicated to preserving Ojibway cultures and traditions.   

  • A Show at the Capitol

    From ballet to live music to movies, North Bay’s Capitol Centre has entertainment for all tastes – and a gift card, in any denomination, will let folks on your list choose their own adventure.

  • A Mural Tour

    Okay, this one isn’t exactly something you can buy, but stick with us here: using an app from the Apple App Store or Google Play, treat someone on your list to a self-guided tour of Sudbury’s many murals, which appear across the city and which have been commissioned over the years for the annual Up Here festival, which takes place in August. (Want to make the experience extra special? Grab some Up Here merch.) 

    Are you a Northern Ontario maker? Have you got an item you'd like to let us know about? Drop us a line at jenn@thenewbusiness.ca. We'd love to hear from you.  

About Northern Ontario

Welcome to Northern Ontario, Canada! Bigger than Texas, wilder than the west, more welcoming than a campfire in October, Northern Ontario is like no place else. Sunset Country is famous for its spectacular fishing lakes, Superior Country stretches into the deep north wildnerness, Algoma Country has Lake Superior as their back yard, and the Northeast provides excellent vacation destinations close to Toronto and other large urban centres in Southern Ontario.

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