"Vivre au Canada, c'est vivre dans quatres pays differents...
un pays par saison."

Michel Conte


Canadian-made Jewellery for Mother's Day

By / Par: Andrea Willowcat - St. Jean Baptiste, Manitoba

Category / Catégorie: Shopping guides

Mother's Day is this coming Sunday, May 13th, Canada! Are you prepared? I hope my kids are. Actually, I expect homemade delights from my two littlest ones and I would hope that my son will not spend much as we are all doing our best to save money for when he leaves for culinary school in June. Yet, in spite of this, I still make my wish lists of the pretty things I covet and this year is no different. I am drawn to organic shapes and materials like wood and semi-precious gems (especially turquoise, jade and moonstone) and have a preference for copper, silver, white gold and platinum. I am also fond of pieces that have a gypsy or bohemian feel.

Canada is one of the top producers of ethical diamonds that are conflict-free. Rough diamonds, from countries like Sierra Leone and Angola, have been used to fund armed conflict and other illegal activities ; once these diamonds are cut it is impossible to trace their origins. Canadian diamonds come from the Northwest Territories  and are traced from mine to retailer; Canadian made and conflict free. This diamond solitaire ring, from Buy Canadian First member The Shopping Channel, is absolutely gorgeous! I would be satisfied to just dream of owning one.

 Diamond Solitaire

I also adore this multi-bangle from Buy Canadian First member Prep n Pretty Boutique . It's chunky and yet looks light and easy to wear, plus, its affordability will even make me feel comfortable wearing it to work.  

 Prep n Pretty boutique

Mmmm wood! I love wood pieces! My son bought me a handmade necklace when he went on vacation to Banff with his Nana and Pa Dan many moons ago and it has been one of my main pieces ever since! These beautiful, large hoop wood earrings from Canadian Etsy artisan, Jillian Driedger of In Bloom Designs , would be a perfect pairing with my necklace or perfect on their own.

In Bloom designs 

My last pick is just as important as the rest and also happens to be the creation of one of my favourite people on the planet! We don't talk nearly as often as we should but she is always in my thoughts. Introducing my talented and lovely friend, Peg,g of Five Forty on Etsy. I have a couple of pieces from both her jewelry line and woven rug line and love them all! I find myself visiting these amazing orange enamel earrings  in her shop often. Perhaps I should splurge a little.  After all, it's Mother's Day!

orange earrings 

This is the short version of my Mother's Day jewellery wish list and if all I end up with is some burnt toast and a whole truck load of hugs and smooches, I'll be a very happy mommy!

What are you wishing for on Mother's Day?


Image credits: The Shopping Channel,  Prep n Pretty Boutique, In Bloom Designs and Five Forty.



Why Buying Canadian First is Huge!

By / Par: Funky Junk Interiors

Category / Catégorie: Growing up in Canada

I am the proud owner of two small, itty-bitty, made-in-Canada businesses. Being little is huge! Allow me to explain. I’m Donna, an artsy, single parent of an awesome twelve year old son, residing in Very Small Town, BC. 


One of my businesses is a sign and graphics shop, called Graphic Impact, where I specialize in designing and manufacturing vehicle graphics. Design and decal fabrication are done at home, then I run out and install at my customer’s location while my son is in school. My passionate side fired-up Funky Junk Interiors, a decorating studio where I flip junky relics into unique decorating elements for the home. Thrifted treasures are found and revamped, then my home is used for staging photo shoots. From there, I submit the write-ups to magazines and blogs for features. I'm also a freelance writer and photographer and am so very glad that Buy Canadian First is part of my lineup! FUN!


But what really makes this story profound is the fact that businesses choose to buy Canadian first, by choosing me, this little Canadian small town girl, over much larger international corporations. They don’t have to choose me. There are plenty of others they could use to either make their trucks look pretty or their magazine spreads or blogs shine. But the fact that they did choose me says something about them. They are supporters of ensuring that my son gets a new pair of shoes every so often and that there's fuel in our vehicle. They know where their money is being spent which also means that they care about us.


In return, I attempt to offer something extra-special so that they call again. How about the very best work I can muster, topped with a sprinkling of true blue passion? When you care about what you do, you tend to conduct business a little differently, wouldn’t you agree? I see it when I visit my hairdresser in her beautifully decorated, cozy basement, for that invaluable one-on-one service or at the unique diner down the road that dishes up homemade fare like no one else. The small town folks, and what they offer, are special, and that's what keeps me coming back to buying Canadian first. I love knowing where my hard-earned Canadian dollars are going and I’m just very glad that my customers appear to feel the same way about me!


What keeps you going back to your favourite, small businesses?


Written by, and images courtesy of, Donna at Funky Junk Interiors.


Why My Graphics Business Loves Canada

By / Par: Funky Junk Interiors

Category / Catégorie: Canadians making waves

My little sign and graphics business resides in a very small town in British Columbia, Canada. But, apparently, size has no merit when it comes to making good decisions for a business that continues to thrive after 20 years.  And I believe that has a lot to do with purchasing made-in-Canada products.


Canadian purchases treat my business very well! And here’s why:

Whenever something is required, a quick phone call to a Canadian supplier will have that item in my driveway the next day. YES! The next day! How quickly stock is received is a huge factor in the success of my business. Staying within my border simplifies the steps and helps keep details on track.


Lower fees:

Even if an item shows a bit more expensive in Canada than elsewhere, I generally still end up saving money. Things like brokerage issues, higher shipping fees and the exchange rate all come into play.

This is not to say that I don’t enjoy shopping elsewhere, on occasion. Sometimes Canada doesn’t carry what another region does. However, I gauge the time frame and extra costs associated with each purchase and always come up with the realization that staying within the Canadian border is the best choice for my business.

Local shipping:

A good relationship with a local shipper also makes a difference. Because ‘they know your needs’, they can help override the little technical things that can go wrong.


Having local suppliers AND shippers provides everything possible to keep my business happy and prosperous. And I know I have Canada to thank for that!

How has using local services helped you?

 : :Photos are courtesy of Donna's local Canadian businesses: Graphic Impact and Funky Junk Interiors.


Creative Kids

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: Growing up in Canada

Creativity is something that kids are born with. They want to sing, dance, colour and create. Their little brains are growing so rapidly that being able to express themselves through art and music helps them grow and learn. Creative kids are happy and adjusted kids. My oldest son is left-handed. I often say that this is one reason he is so creative. He loves to draw and build anything. You give him a task and he will spend hours on it.  I think that Canada is naturally a creative country. We are home to so many amazing artists, great musicians and talented actors.  I am proud to see so much talent made in Canada.


My oldest son is going off to high school in the Fall. Registration, as well as the tour of the school, is this month. The first stop on my son's list to visit on the tour is the Music room and the drama department. I am so excited about this.  It has been years since he has expressed an interest in studying the arts. His primary focus has been sports up until now. I often refer to him as "my son who will one day be famous" lol. I wish that, when he was younger, I had access to the original art work of Burnish Brush Art Studio. Their collages would have truly inspired him over the years. 


Our youngest is at an age where she is showing interest in dance. I try to encourage the kids' interests without occupying all of their time. It is great to keep activities fun. When they become stressful it is time for us to move on and find something new.  My daughter is also showing an interest in music. Being three, she is still hard to understand all the time. When she tries to tell us about a favourite show, book or character, she will sing their theme song. She has also expressed interest in songs that are about her, which is very similar to the CDs from Just For Me Music. Having four kids, I never know what will happen from one day to the next. I do know that my kids will be happy and I will be busy with all of their fun and activities.  

 What do your children show an interest in?  


Written by Gingermommy

:: images courtesy of Buy Canadian First member Just For Me Music and Burnish Brush Art Studio.


Canadian Crooners

By / Par: Wendy T. Gibson

Category / Catégorie: Canadians making waves

Day 7 in our Cross Canada Countdown and today we are everywhere that there is an Chapters-Indigo store. First though, we remind you that there is one more day left for our made-in-Canada  Chillbed Industries Ltd. laptop cooling giveaway! It's super easy to enter:  just follow them on Facebook and Twitter ! We will announce the winner here tomorrow. Don't forget that you can also win a lovely gift basket from Natural Plantation for submitting your Winter photos to our Facebook page.


Chapters-Indigo has a a really well organized Canadian gift guide and strives to highlight Canadians on their website, which really impressed me. I went there looking for some Canadian Crooners to listen to as Christmas approaches and maybe even to stuff in a few stockings. (The CDs, not the crooners!). I found a section called Canada First, in the Music department!

Here are some suggestions for your list of Canadian Christmas Crooners:


Michael Buble, Christmas


Justin Beiber, Under the Mistletoe


Diana Krall, Christmas Songs 


  David Foster, The Christmas Album


Rankin Sisters, Do You Hear? 


Anne Murray, Christmas Album 

What's your favourite Christmas album?

 :: images courtesy of Buy Canadian First member, Chapter-Indigo.. 




Winnipeg, Manitoba with Sean Quigley

By / Par: Wendy T. Gibson

Category / Catégorie: Canadians making waves

It's Day 6, (already) and I have a special treat for our Cross Canada Countdown! It's a video by Manitoba sixteen year old, Sean Quigley. Sean plays all the instruments and sings too! Plus, he directed his sister on how to shoot the video! This is definitely made-in-Canada and it is currently travelling around the world at the speed of light! (That's still fast, isn't it?) 


The Canadian Drummer Boy!   

I hope you enjoy this great Canadian video! See you tomorrow when we'll visit yet another talented Canadian.


If you would like us to visit you for tips on enjoying December, please leave a comment below. We are having a lot of fun getting to know you all!

:: video courtesy of Sean Quigley YouTube + image courtesy of Google Maps.



The Art of Supply Shopping

By / Par: Wendy T. Gibson

Category / Catégorie: Shopping guides

 I do a lot of painting, collaging and art journalling. For the most part, I just buy the supplies that I can afford with my 40% off craft coupon, without thinking too much about whether they are made in Canada. Then, the other day, I was at the dollar store and found some tempera paint made by Mathco, a company based in Pickering, Ontario! This really motivated me to source out more Canadian made art supplies. I was pleasantly surprised at the options! Here are a few to get you started.


Original watercolours by Canadian artist, Andrea Willowcat 

Stevenson  is Canada's leading manufacturer of artists' oil paints, acrylics and water colours. David L. Stevenson (1910 - 1988), an artist and Fellow of the Ontario College of Art, found that imported paints were too expensive. Now we can get artist quality paints at affordable prices, made right here at home!


What about this durable and waterproof artist's brush case by ecohandbags.ca? 

Tri-Art Acrylics  is a Canadian company that specialises in unique products that are not widely accessible in Canada. Started in the mid 1990's in the back room of a family owned art store, school and gallery in Kingston, Ontario, and known as Art Noise, the business was begun by Steve Ginsberg and his partner, April Tracey. With the addition of Chris Bogstad,in 1994, the company is now known as Tri-Art.

Gotrick  has become a major player in the Canadian art supplies market by manufacturing stretched canvas. Since their start in 1994, Gotrick now has facilities of more than 30,000 square feet and 30 dedicated employees. They are located in Vercheres, Quebec. 

Great Canadian sketchbook 

Ecojot is an eco-friendly stationary brand that is based in Scarborough, Ontario. The company was created in 2007 by designer Carolyn Gavin and her brother Mark Gavin. They have wonderful artist sketchbooks in various sizes, made in Canada, of course!

With the help of the internet, it's never been easier or more convenient to shop for Canadian made art supplies! Can you suggest a Canadian source for art supplies?

:: images courtesy of Buy Canadian First members Andrea Willowcat, Ecojot and EcoHandbags. 


Smart Summer Photos

By / Par: Wendy T. Gibson

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

I take photos wherever I go, not just for special occasions; it's a hobby I have had since I was a  little kid. Now that I have a smart phone, taking pictures this Summer has never been easier and I am loving it! I'm going to share with you how you can get a Canadian made  smart phone skin with one of your own photos on it and tell you about a couple of the many apps available for smart phone photographers. There are also a couple of simple things that you can do with your camera right away to get memorable photos! 

Mullein: Bird's Eye View; Dog's Eye View; Bug's Eye View 

Different POVs:

One of the best pieces of advice that I can give you when it comes to Summer smart phone photography is to remember that there are different points of views that you can take advantage of.  Many shots of dogs, kids and flowers, for example, are taken from a 'bird's eye view', from up above the subject. This has its place, but it also gets boring fast. Try a 'bug's eye view' for a great shot of your subject from the ground up. 'Dog's eye view' is a photo taken at the eye level of the subject, a great point of view to take photos of, well, dogs and kids and flowers! You can also try 'shooting from the hip!" for a very dynamic photo.

Fireworks fail. If only I had used the movie camera! 

 Fireworks and Action Shots:

Between mosquitoes and shaky hands, it can be  tough to get a clear shot of fireworks with your smart phone. My best advice for taking fireworks simply and spontaneously? Use the movie camera instead of the still camera! You can capture still photos later! This is a great trick for taking any action shots, like water-skiing or wakeboarding or bluejays drinking at the birdbath!

"Oil painted" rose photo. 

Smart Phone Apps:

Here are two of the many apps that will let you have tons of fun with your photos this Summer. Try the amazing iScape! Using a photo of your own garden you can add photos of plants and garden features from their library or draw them in with your finger! And it's free! If you would rather turn your photos into extrordinarily realistic looking oil paintings, among other effects, explore Picture Magic for really stunning results.  (The apps that I use are for the iPhone 4 but you can find equivalent apps for your smart phone just by searching).

Smart Phone Skins:

Gelaskins, based out of Toronto,  are removable covers that protect and customise smart phones and other devices! The truly exciting part for me is that I can upload my own photos and they will make a skin for me! Yay! Of course, you can also choose from all sorts of other people's art, too, and at their low prices, why not indulge in more than one!? I just found out that you can get a free Gelaskins app at the iTunes store that enables you to view and download their many gorgeous wallpapers! Did I mention that the app is free!

Are you a fan of smart phone photography?

:: images courtesy of  Wendy T. Gibson


Member Spotlight: Dozay's Native Art & Graphics

By / Par: Wendy T. Gibson

Category / Catégorie: Shopping guides

Buy Canadian First member, Arlene Christmas, is Dozay, a native artist based in Western New Brunswick. Leaving the Tobique Reserve where she grew up, Dozay became a graduate of the Fine Arts program of NSCAD. Now, her distinct Canadian made artwork is displayed in galleries and exhibits across Canada and the United States and is available for sale on her website.

Arlene Christmas - Dozay

Dozay's paintings are full of colour and meaning. One of the features of her website that I really appreciate is that Dozay has included full interpretations of each of her works. She explains the native stories that have inspired her, which, in my opinion, adds to each painting's worth immensely. A visit to her site is like taking a gorgeously illustrated workshop on First Nation mythology!

Dozay has developed a distinct air brushing style that incorporates traditional First Nation symbolism, culture and heritage. Her understanding of and love for the spiritual elements that inform each of her creations is evident in all that she does.


You can find out more about what makes Dozay so unique at the Lieutenant-Governor's House Gallery in Fredericton, N.B.  this August 25, for the "Kluskap in Wolostoq" exhibit. Can't wait? Take a moment to enjoy this CTV video about Dozay Christmas, right now !

Do you appreciate Canadian art?Who is your favourite Canadian artist?


:: images courtesy of Buy Canadian First member, Dozay's Native Art Gallery.


Month #5: Culture

By / Par: 0 - Montreal, Quebec

Category / Catégorie: What's hot

Services is out. Culture is in.

Thanks to commenter Natalie, I've changed things up for the month of May. This month I'm adding ‘culture' to the mix.

What do I mean by ‘culture'? Anything cultural that doesn't fit into one of my other media categories (TV, movies, books, magazines and music). To start, I'll only be seeing Canadian live performances-theatre, ballet, opera, author readings and so forth-for the rest of the year.


This will be a bit of a sacrifice, because I attend a lot of theatre. So, it's prairies and raven tricksters for me for the rest of the year. I joke, but when I was in theatre school, it seemed to me that every Canadian play I worked on was either set in a depressed, wind-blasted, incest-riven prairie farm house or on a depressed, wind-blasted First Nations reserve where some traditionally-clad bird dancer hovered over the action. Add in Canadian theatre's love of historical dramas, and we rarely see a play set in a contemporary Canadian city. There's always Brad Fraser, I suppose. I just checked, and none of the 2011 plays at either of Vancouver's biggest theatres, the Arts Club or the Playhouse, qualify as Canadian. I'll have to seek out some smaller venues.

And then there are cultural institutions. I have a membership to the Vancouver Art Gallery. For the rest of the year, I can only look at Canadian works of art. I'll be really sorry to miss this Eadweard Muybridge exhibit, for example. Cursed Welshman. A few weeks ago I was in Quebec City, and took care to only look at Canadian paintings at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. I spent my time looking at Jean-Paul Riopelle's work, and the Modernist review in Salle 7. I'll do the same when visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery for the rest of the year.

What foreign culture would you miss if you went all-Canadian for a year?

Photo shows Kevin MacDonald in the Arts Club Theatre Company's production of Paradise Garden, a Canadian show I saw last year. Photo by Ross Den Otter.

Read comments here.

Blog post re-printed with kind permission from  Darren Barefoot - 1Y1C.