If you want to bring back a piece of Canada’s capital for someone special back home, Ottawa has many unique shops and boutiques where you’re sure to find great local products that you couldn’t find anywhere else. From locally-made clothing, to interesting jewellery, to arts and crafts, Ottawa has something that will delight your family and friends abroad.
If you’re looking for something original, Ottawa’s ByWard Market neighbourhood is a good place to start! Head into the ByWard Market Square building, which is home to a plethora of local boutiques and artisans. Originally constructed in 1848, the ByWard Market Square building is a plaza-like shopping area with many different products to offer.
Visit Eclection, which offers a collection of Canadian-made hats, clothing and accessories, stop by designers Carol Schagerl and Lynne Kiel, or peruse some of the custom made jewellery at Csilla Ékes. Just outside of this building, you will also find the open air ByWard Market. This outdoor market is open daily and is home to many stalls offering locally-produced arts and crafts, maple products as well as fresh produce during the warmer months. This market operates year-round, but in the height of summer, it offers up to 175 different stalls.
And across from the ByWard Market Square building, you’ll find the Crazy Moose of Ottawa souvenir shop, which carries an array of Ottawa-themed t-shirts, sweatshirts and other Canadian merchandise. If clothing is what you’re after, venture a bit further into “the market” to Dalhousie Street and stop at Workshop Studio & Boutique. This eclectic boutique is Ottawa-owned and offers handcrafted handbags, clothing, accessories, giftware and more. Also worth a visit on Dalhousie Street is Victoire Boutique, which focuses primarily on Canadian designers. This clothing shop mixes edgy and classic pieces, providing a selection of products that can only be described as a “Rock n’ Roll tea party.”
While you’re in the ByWard Market area, you can pick up some fresh local produce to go! Local company Lowertown Canning Company offers a selection of pickles and relishes, sauces and spreads as well as jams and jellies that are all made from local produce. You can find Lowertown Canning’s products at Lapointe Fish Market, The Tea Store and The Corner Butcher, which are located in the ByWard Market neighbourhood.
Close to the ByWard Market, you will find CF Rideau Centre –Ottawa’s downtown shopping mall. Home to about 180 retailers, including high-end brands like Coach and Michael Kors, this mall will cater to your every shopping need. But if you’re looking for a little something that is Ottawa-specific, you’ll want to stop by new boutique Drake General Store. “The Drake” offers traditional Canadian and Ottawa-focused souvenirs. From the staple wool Hudson’s Bay Company blanket to vintage Ottawa luggage tags, this store has something interesting for every taste and budget. Also worth a stop is Magpie Jewellery, which offers The Ottawa Necklace; a pendant necklace in the shape of Ottawa, as it would look on a map. This necklace is available in two sizes, in silver and in “Tumbaga” (a mix of brass and copper).
And in the west end of Ottawa’s downtown core, you will find The Snow Goose Ltd. boutique. Located on Ottawa’s pedestrian-friendly Sparks Street, the Snow Goose has been open since 1963, specializing in Native Canadian as well as Inuit art. Here, you will find a large selection of Native and Inuit sculptures, prints, as well as handcrafted jewellery. Also, as Ottawa is Canada’s capital, the city is home to many national museums that all have their own unique gift shops!
If you’re interested in art, visit the National Gallery of Canada’s boutique, or venture over to the Canadian Museum of History to peruse items that cover a thousand years of Canadian history. And if you’re after something really different, why not take the time to visit the Diefenbunker’s gift shop? Located at about a 30-minute drive from Ottawa’s downtown core in the village of Carp, Ontario, the Diefenbunker is Canada’s Cold War Museum. This is one of Ottawa’s most unique historic sites! This four-storey, 300 room underground bunker was built in complete secrecy during the Cold War and was meant to house government members and military officials in the event of a nuclear attack. This Ottawa-area site is worth visiting and you can bet that its boutique will have interesting Cold War-themed items.
The ByWard Market neighbourhood is also home to Canadian clothing company Roots Canada. Known for its cozy wool and cotton sweaters and hand-crafted leather goods for both men and women, “Roots” is a Canadian favourite. They even sell their own brand of maple syrup in a maple leaf-shaped bottle!
And if you have some time during your stay, Ottawa’s Glebe neighbourhood is also worth a visit. Located just outside of Ottawa’s downtown core, down Bank Street, “the Glebe” is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods. Enjoy a pedestrian-friendly area with charming tree-lined streets as you explore the local boutiques. Visit fashion boutiques Pom Pom, Delilah and Escape for unique pieces. And don’t miss specialty shops like Cats R Us, the Papery and Octopus Books. Interesting and one-of-a-kind home items can also be found at the Glebe Emporium. The Glebe is easily accessible from Ottawa’s downtown core, either by walking or taking a short 10-minute taxi ride. And once the Rideau Canal freezes in the winter and turns into the world’s largest skating rink, you can skate over to the Glebe!
For your more sports-focused friends or family members, you might want to consider bringing a SAM BAT back for them. Developed by Ottawa native Sam Holman, the company operates just outside of Ottawa in nearby Carleton Place, making maple wood baseball bats. These bats, which were first made in 1996, are now widely used in Major League baseball by players such as Jose Martinez, Drew Bridges and Chris Carter, to name a few. In the 2014 baseball season, more than 100 Major League players were using a SAM BAT.
With so many choices available, you will find an item to please even the most discerning friend or family member!