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The Good Shopper Blog

"Canadian pride may not rest on our sleeves, but it resides deeply in our hearts."

Steve Miller


Cross Canada skin care

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

Category / Catégorie: Shopping guides

Canadians, we sure are a good-looking bunch! Perhaps it is because of the talented people who create amazing, Canadian-made skin care products from coast to coast to coast. Whether you are seeking products that are eco-friendly, vegan, goat milk-based, or just something that smells scrumptious and yummy, what you seek lies within the borders of our great nation and possibly, right near where you live! 
 Whistler Naturals
Starting with the West, Whistler Naturals  skin care products are made in, none other than ... Whistler, British Columbia. Whistler Naturals have vegan products that are all natural, free of preservatives, parabens, synthetic colours, laurel or laureth sulphates, propelyn glycol, animal products, phthalates and gmos, to name a few. I am very interested in the Coconut Lime Balancing Cleanser and the Rosemary Mint Olive Oil Body Wash. Such wonderful scent combinations! Get Whistler Natural updates at their Facebook page
All Things Jill from Organically Hatched 

Our member, Organically Hatched, offers skin care products by All Things Jill. This was once a home-based hobby in Calgary, Alberta and now can be found in over one hundred locations across Canada. All Things Jill is devoted to the environment as well as to their customers. All things Jill has the whole family covered with products for women, men, mom’s to be, babies, outdoor lovers and even a line for our beloved dogs. Be sure to like Organically Hatched and All Things Jill on facebook.
Natural Plantation 

Natural Plantation was born when herbalist and lymphologist, Elsie Belcheff of Saskatchewan, discovered a way to process the purslane plant to retain all of it medicinal benefits. Portulaca Oleracea (common purslane, aka pigweed, pulsey and little hogweed) is a powerhouse of nutrition including omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, iron and anti-oxidants. It is also an antiseptic, a diuretic and it reduces fevers, to name a few of purslane's many benefits. The funny thing is, that, most of us consider this plant a pesky garden weed . Ms. Belcheff has created a cream, safe for infants to adults for regular skin maintenance or to be applied to skin affected by bug bites, psoriasis or dryness. It can even be applied for headaches. Natural Plantation has several other products as well.  Keep abreast of Elsie Belcheff's book signing dates and more information at her facebook page .

Pure Anada is the brainchild of Manitoba resident, Candace Grenier. In the hope of getting away from harsh chemicals, Candace created natural makeup for herself and it became a full-time family business! Pure Anada has skincare products for all women that I am glad to have the opportunity to buy local from a fellow Manitoban! Get more information about Pure Anada on their facebook page
   Vidoma Naturals
ViDoma was created by aromatherapist, Marilyn Haggerty and herbalist, Dorothy Turner of Ontario and both ladies value healing through natural means. Sadly, Marilyn passed away in March of 2009, but her legacy with Vidoma Naturals lives on. Not only are Vidoma products free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, phosphates, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfates, or synthetic fragrances, they have the added health benefit of herbs and aromatherapy to nourish your skin and protect your health. 'Like' their facebook page and be notified of updates and product promotions.
Soaperie Main de Nature 

Soaperie Main de Nature came to light when Nicole Poitras of Quebec began formulating a detergent-free soap. After four years of trial and error, with her co-workers as her testers and evaluators, Nicole came up with an all-natural formula using fresh vegetables and fruit, gentle enough for everyone to use, including her dogs and horses. Join their facebook page for updates and the activities of the Soaperie.

 the great Canadian soap co

The Great Canadian Soap Company, located out East in Brackley Beach, Prince Edward Island, started out with a herd of dairy goats and then discovered that they had more milk than they knew what to do with! Since they ran a Bed and Breakfast, they began making soap for their guest rooms. Guests loved the soap so much that the soaps were made available for sale. The rest is history. Goat milk soap is known to help a number of skin-related issues such as dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. With products available for men, women and pets, there is something for the whole family, head to toe. The Great Canadian Soap Company has a facebook page to keep you updated on new product and events.
I think that what I love best about all Buy Canadian First skin care members is that each one is so unique, making our choices for skin care products in Canada varied and wonderful. By no means does this list cover all of the wonderful skin care products to be found across Canada or even in the Buy Canadian First members' catalogue! I invite you to look at our Skin Care page and find a company close to you. 

Do you buy skin care products made locally?

Image credits: Buy Canadian First members Whistler Naturals, Organically Hatched, Natural Plantation, Pure Anada, Vidoma Naturals, Soaperie Main de Nature,  The Great Canadian Soap Co. 



Hallowe'en tips and treats

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Blog post written by: Kirsten Bartel


As skies begin to darken and the lights are low, you stand outside in the approaching darkness and look around... the silence broken only by the rustling of dead leaves on gnarly tree branches...


Dark clouds, like long bony fingers, reach across the nearly full moon shining overhead, and your senses become heightened by eerie spirits and a touch of magic in the air... Hallowe'en is upon us once again.

The term Hallowe'en, now often spelled Halloween, is shortened from All Hallows' Eve (eve being an abbreviation of even, an older word for evening.) The "e'en" in Hallowe'en comes from "even" shortened to e'en, from the Old English term meaning "All Hallows' Evening".


The history of the celebrations are long and times have changed from when we would put an old bed sheet over our heads, grab a pillowcase or strong plastic bag and rush out to try to get as many candies as possible. Nowadays it has become a big celebration, filled with parties and theme events for children, adults and dogs alike. Hallowe'en activities include trick-or-treating, wearing costumes and attending costume parties, ghost tours, bonfires, visiting haunted attractions, reading scary stories, cornfield mazes, carving pumpkins, watching horror films — just to name a few.

A few tips on how to have a ghoulish good time for Hallowe'en:
Kids of all ages will still want to dress up so take a gander at the selection of costumes from Creative Education Canada. Since it may be chilly in some parts of the country, you  may want to pick up some of these adorable Winter Kitty Hats, add a tail and... Voilà ! your children have been transformed into one of the best known animals of the holiday.


Should you decide to dress up your dog, take care to ensure that the costumes do not have any small parts on which they can choke. Oh, and try to remember your dog's dignity, as they do have sensitive egos.

Treats will be a must for any get together. Check out the variety of goodies from Original Foods or, for a nice Canadian twist to the regular lollipops, try this sweet Maple Flavoured Sucker from Jakeman's. For Potato Chips, I suggest these 100% Canadian Hardbite Chips by Naturally Homegrown Foods, from British Columbia.


 They come in a variety of flavours, such as

  • All Natural
  • Smokin BBQ
  • Chedder & Onion
  • Salt & Vinegar
  • Jalapeno
  • Wild Onion & Yoghurt
  • Creamy Coconut and Curry Oriental
  • Honey Dijon

and even as sticks instead of chips, in Smokin and Jalapeno flavours. Not only are they 100% Canadian, but they are healthy as well. They can be found at many Health Food Stores across the country.

Another great Canadian company who manufactures tasty products such as Nougat Bars, Jelly Beans, Pal O Mine Bars, Bagged Candy and much much more is the Ganong Company, from Saint Stephen, New Brunswick.


What is even better is that Ganong contributes a portion of the proceeds of all their products marked with a pink ribbon to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Something which makes every bite just so much sweeter.


I have seen many reusable eco-bags at local grocery stores with Hallowe'en themes, which can be used instead of the usual plastic bags should you go trick-or-treating. 

How about some homemade delights? Chef Michael Smith, a well known Canadian chef who encourages the use of local produce in his recipes, has some wonderful Hallowe'en treats:

More fun recipes:


Witches Brooms
String cheese
Licorice strips
Pretzel sticks

Shred apart pieces of string cheese in long strips. Take a pretzel stick, and pressing the cheese strips around the end of the stick, tie a piece of string licorice around it, creating a sweep for the broom. Press the licorice and cheese firmly to the pretzel to secure. Continue with remaining pretzels. 


Hallowe'en Magic Wands
Pretzel Sticks
Chocolate (melted)
Granular Sugar

Take the pretzel sticks and dip them into the melted chocolate. Roll the chocolate end in the sugar sprinkles to make the glitter. Continue with remaining pretzels.

Be creative, have fun!


Tim Horton's  has Pumpkin Spiced Donuts as well. You can pick up a dozen for the party, or have one with your Pumpkin Spice Muffin and specialty Pumpkin Spice Tea each day until the weekend.  Either way, a great way to get your taste buds started toward all the other goodies.

Note: If you would like your dog to share in any Hallowe'en treats, please only give them small pieces of fresh apples and some mashed pumpkin. Sugar and chocolate is toxic for pooches. If you feel like baking special treats, Dogs in Canada magazine has a delicious looking Pumpkin Brownie recipe (without chocolate, of course). 

Tarot is another interesting activity to have at your party, either to perform readings or for meditation. The Spiritual Light Tarot by Canadian Marcia Masino is worth exploring. The artwork is inspiring and has the essence of the Aurora Borealis. Marcia Masino is the author of two best selling Tarot books: Easy Tarot Guide and Best Tarot Practices, available through Chapters Indigo and has designed two Tarot Decks.

No Hallowe'en would be complete without mentioning one of the many Haunted Tours across the country.  Here are some tours you can check out in Ontario and Quebec:

Find one in your local area or make a trip out of it. Hallowe'en tours are on now until October 31.

Now gather around the bonfire and look out for the Ghosts and Spirits all around us — can you sense them? Happy Hallowe'en! 

Image Sources: Flickr Creative Commons, John Morgan, Andy Hay, Allen Dale Thompson,, Homegrown Foods, Ganong, Flicker Creative Commons, Tara Alton, Tim Horton's


October is Breast Cancer Month

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

Category / Catégorie: Canadians making waves

Each year, thousands of Canadians are touched by breast cancer. It not only impacts the individuals living with the disease, but their families, friends and loved ones as well.  

These words are quoted from the member profile of Buy Canadian First member Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. It is hard not to be affected by breast cancer in one way or another and even men are not immune to this.

Blueline will contribute a minimum of $75,000 from the sale of Pink Ribbon Planners and Notebooks to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

What is Breast Cancer?
If cancer is first found in the breast it is called breast cancer. There are various types of breast cancer and the region runs from the breast to the collarbone and from the armpit to the breast bone.

Cancer is a disease that strikes at a cellular level. Our bodies are made of up of cells that each contain our DNA which stores genetic information and the function of the cell. The DNA usually controls the function, growth and reproduction of a cell unless it is changed. Then the cells begin to grow in an uncontrolled manner. This cell growth becomes a lump and has two outcomes: They are benign (non-cancerous) and not life threatening,  or they begin to invade neighboring healthy cells and are thus called malignant. This condition is cancer. The process known as metastasis is when cancerous cells break free and spread to other parts of the body creating new malignant cell growths.

Canadian Tire will donate $ 1.00 from every Debbie Travis can of paint (1 gal.) purchased to The CURE Foundation for Breast Cancer. 

Be Breast Aware
The breasts change through life and being breast aware means that you are aware of how your breasts normally look and feel. This way if something does seem different you will (hopefully) notice them early.  Keep in mind that a change to the breast does not mean breast cancer, it could be a benign condition the key is to know what to look for and to discover malignant growth early. All women  of any age need to be aware. Become Breast Aware with these 5 simple steps.

Oasis Nutrisource supports breast cancer research, you contribute to this cause every time you drink our juices. 


All the Ways to Help.
Donating to the Canadian Breast Cancer foundation can be done as a single, monthly or tribute donation online, by email,  over the phone, fax or post.You could give through a personal giving or get your company involved. You could also donate to one of the many run participants of the CIBC run for the cure.

The Green Beaver Company's "For my sister" deodorant is a limited edition all natural deodorant (aluminum free), created to help support Michèlle and other breast cancer sufferers. Profits go directly to research at The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research and McGill University. 


Participate in either the CIBC Run for the Cure or Fore the Cure but you can always create a fabulous event of your own.

Scotch-Brite® is happy to contribute 26¢ per product sold to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.


Become a Volunteer! "Volunteer support is invaluable, and the Foundation would not be able to achieve its goals without their dedicated contribution." Find your local office, BC/Yukon region, Prairies/NWT, Ontario region, Atlantic Region.

Country Harvest whole grain breads and bagels will donate ten cents from every product sold during the month of October to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for a total donation of up to $50,000.


Cook for the Cure! The next time you host a dinner party turn it into a cook for the cure party. Regisiter your soiree, luncheon, bruch, wings and dip hockey night with cook for the cure and KitchenAid will donate $50.00 as well the the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation! Easy as apple pie.

Proceeds of sales to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation  


Shop for the Cure. Just go shopping. It's that easy. In this post, I'm featuring 8 Pink Ribboned products whose makers donate proceeds to breast cancer reseach that happen to be made-in-Canada but there are so many other products and services to choose from. Check out the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundations partners and see for yourself!

10% of the sales from our "2009 Jumbo Pillow Drive", we are committing to contributing a minimum of $50,000 to the Foundation, with a goal of reaching $100,000.


These strong and beautiful Canadian women are survivors of breast cancer and are living proof that the future for a cancer free Canada.

How do you support breast cancer research and why is it so very, very important to you?

Image sources: Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation,


Tackling aromatic encounters — The bath and beyond

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Blog post written by: Kirsten Bartel


Your dog was skunked? No problem! Read our recent post entitled Tackling Aromatic Encounters - Preparation for information on how to make a home remedy to combat this problem, roll up your sleeves and get ready for the fun part! Oh and don’t forget those all important items of lavender, hops and herbs.

The bath and beyond
After mixing up the ingredients previously recommended (recap: Hydrogen Peroxide 3% solution, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and dishwashing liquid)


pour the solution over your dog, often using sponges will help in the process, and massage well into the fur. Make sure none of the bath water gets into your dog's eyes or face as it is a very strong irritant. Gently wash the face by using a paper towel and soft strokes, ensuring to keep it out of the eyes and mouth. Also Hydrogen Peroxide should not be digested internally, so no drinking out of the tub! Leave the solution on the dog's fur for about five minutes and then rinse well. Pour the water out and make a new solution and repeat the entire process.


Optional: Many people use vinegar for the first rinse, then clear water, then do the second washing and then they repeat again. If you are using white vinegar, it is best to dilute it with water to minimize skin irritation. Apple cider vinegar is a good alternate solution as it has some medicinal properties and helps the fur.

If your dog was sprayed directly in the face, make a thorough inspection of the eyes, call your veterinarian if at all possible, and rinse her eyes with a natural saline eye drops or artificial tears. You may want to use some drops for yourself to ease the effect on your eyes from the strong skunk vapours. The spray from the skunk is extremely irritating and can also cause some nausea.

Dry the dog off with some eco-friendly paper towels and old towels (it is best to not to use your best bath towels for this). Dispose of any items which are unsalvageable in bio-degradable bags.

After you get the smell out, it is a good idea to use natural Oatmeal and Aloe shampoo to revitalize the skin and fur. Your dog's fur may bleach from the solution and may shed more for about a month until it recovers, however, the wonderful aroma should be eliminated. Any lingering scent may come from the dog’s face but it will dissipate.

Lavender, Hops and Herbs


Now you are probably wondering where the lavender, hops and herbs come in? After such a wonderful ordeal, you will no doubt need to calm your nerves. Lavender oil is a great essential oil which calms the skin and nerves, for men, women and dogs. You can mix some up in water or try member's Tuscan Farm Gardens product Lavender Body Spray and spray it on the dog's bed and on yourself. Even better, use the spray for the dog and take a bath using their  Lavender Milk Bath, so you can relax and regain a sense of well-being while allowing the sodium bicarbonate to soothe your skin.


The solution is strong and although you should be wearing gloves, some solution may make it's way into your gloves and could roughen up your hands. If so, don't worry. You can get the care you need, all the while also supporting made-in-Canada brands: Buy Canadian First has members who manufacture and sell some pretty great hand and body lotions: Upper Canada Soap has an amazing hand care collection called All About Hands. Through our retailer, try Ella's Botanicals Yummy Almond Hand and Body Lotion. You can also check out Canus Goat's Milk product Canus Goat's Milk Moisturizing Lotion with Shea Butter or Mont-Echo Naturels, Inc. product purSea Hand Lotion.


Afterwards, have a fine relaxing herbal tea, such as member Nature Bella's product Algonquin peace tea by Mother Earth herbal teas.

If you feel you need something stronger, hops is also a great herb for relaxation (seriously). You can buy some in bulk at your local health food store. Or perhaps a nice bottle of beer from one of our local microbreweries may fair you well. A Boréale perhaps? The Quebec-owned microbrewery, Les Brasseurs du Nord, have six ale-type beers with a lot of character to help you chill. Or maybe a choice selection from la microbrasserie Unibroue, such as a Maudite or Fin du Monde, since no doubt you thought it was the end of the world until you were completely free of that smell!

Source: Flickr Creative Commons, Oakley Originals, Flickr Creative Commons, Selma Broeder,,


Tackling aromatic encounters - Preparation

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Blog post written by: Kirsten Bartel


Even with the best intentions of preventing such an encounter, unexpected things can unfortunately happen — especially when you own a curious pooch — and your greatest fears may be realized:

You or your dog, or worse, both of you met a skunk!

Don’t panic. Just remember to be prepared and to know of a simple home remedy for that lovely aroma these creatures leave behind on our dogs and ourselves.

To recover, you will need the following:

  • Dishwashing Liquid: Buy Canadian First member Attitude has amazing environmentally-friendly, biodegradable and non toxic dishwashing liquids, available in Grapefruit & Bergamot or Ylang Ylang & Lime. Any citric dishwashing will do, just make sure there is no tea tree oil in the product you choose as tea tree oil can be toxic to pets.


Other useful items:


The procedure
Step one - Preparation

First do not let the dog, or anyone who was sprayed, in the house or car. Then mix the following concoction together:

1 litre Hydrogen Peroxide 3% solution
50 ml (1/4 cup) sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
5 ml (1 tsp) dishwashing liquid

But wait! What about the tomato juice, you ask? The best thing to do with tomato juice when it comes to skunks, is to pour it in a glass and drink it, or even better, get some Canadian invented Clamato Juice and Canadian vodka, like Polar Ice and mix yourself a Bloody Caesar, and take a sip. It may help in bracing yourself for the next step ;)


It is best to wear old clothes, rubber boots and especially rubber gloves so that you do not get the smell on your hands. If you should already have some from catching your dog, you can either put some toothpaste on your hands and rinse or wash them in the solution you just mixed together, then dry them with some eco-friendly paper towels, roll up your sleeves and put on your gloves.

Ready? Okay, now remember this important concoction and stay tuned, as in the next segment I will give tips on how to survive the actual bath!

Image sources: Flickr Creative Commons, Oakley Originals, Attitude,,, Flickr Creative Commons, Kristen Taylor


Encountering wildlife: Striped skunk

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Blog post written by: Kirsten Bartel


One of the marvels of living in Canada, and occasionally its challenge, is how we live side by side with our wild neighbours. Our vast land from coast-to-coast-to-coast is the habitat for a wide diversity of flora and fauna. Summertime to early Autumn in Canada is often filled with many joyous and memorable adventures, however, probably its least appealing attribute is that it is also a great time to encounter a skunk.


Striped Skunks are found across the country and are well known by all Canadians, urban and rural alike, whether we live in the Maritimes to British Columbia or even Nunavut. There may be some of us who have never actually seen a live skunk, but it is doubtful anyone does not know the distinct scent that can travel up to a kilometre in the wind from its source.

In general, skunks are not aggressive creatures and would rather avoid people than confront them, something which can be used to our advantage.

Prevention is always the best method of avoiding the skunk's wonderful perfume. Lights and sounds can temporarily discourage them from moving in, however, they are rather persistent creatures and, thus, permanent measurements are required to keep them out. Always ensure you have no skunks in the areas you are sealing before you permanently close the opening.

As with any wild animal prevention, it is always advisable to make your home and land less appealing to them:

( ) Limit "ready made" dens by blocking openings with wood and metal screens, burying the screens at least 15-20 cm into the ground to discourage digging
( ) Keep your yard uncluttered
( ) Opt for secure garbage and compost bin that have tight lids
( ) Make pet food, water dishes and food scraps unavailable at night

If an unwanted visitor has entered any part of your home or sheds, leave the doors as wide open as possible to allow them easy access to exits. Give them wide berth, and do not try to chase them out or startle them and keep your pets away as well as you may end up being sprayed.

To properly skunk-proof your living area, besides the raw materials of lumber and metal screens, you may also require the following items:


( ) A pair of good work gloves (Try these Canadian Deer Grain Work Gloves from Buy Canadian First member Sterling Gloves Company Ltd.)
( ) A measuring tape and metal cutters
( ) A saw (also available from Buy Canadian First member Trail Blazer Products)
( ) Nails or Screws
( ) Hammer or Screwdriver (perhaps a Canadian invented Robertson screwdriver?)


( ) A shovel or gardening tools (try Trail Blazer Garden Tools)
( ) A new garbage can with lid & bags
( ) A compost with secure lid (you can check out the Envirocycle Composter by Envirolet compost bin which is manufactured and assembled in Canada and has a latching lid)

Now you should be equipped to properly deter and prevent skunks from becoming tenants — Happy skunk proofing!

Source: Flickr Creative Commons Kevin Collins,, Envirolet


Dog Days of September

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Blog post written by: Kirsten Bartel


Ah! Fall has arrived at last! A season when dog owners, and all Canadians across the country, can still rush to get outdoors without multiple layers of clothes and coats, or fear of sinking belly deep in snow ... Just yet. The joys of hiking in the wilderness, exploring the countryside and enjoying nature at its best with your canine friend is sure to put smiles on every face. Dog lovers across the country will attest that there is nothing quite like it.


Preparing for an outing is important, even if you don't have far to go. Five kilometres from home is still a fair hike if you find yourself in need of something which is laying on your kitchen table.

Some basics for a pleasant trek in the country with your pup:


( ) A Hat. Personally I love my "Handcrafted in Canada with Care" Tilley hat for sun protection, however, you can find others. Perhaps a made in Canada Blurr Flora Cap or a MEC Rover Hat from Mountain Equipment Co-op is more to your liking?

( ) Bio bags. Try eco-friendly bags such as those from Sacsmunger, Epi-global or Natursac.

( ) Rubber boots. I use the traditional Canadian Marshland Red Sole Rubber Boots from Canadian Tire, but you can also try these Waterproof Rainboots available from Buy Canadian First member Rallye Footwear Inc.


( ) Quality sunglasses

( ) Water. If you haven't done so already, get a refillable aluminium water bottle, like Otterbottles. Otterbottles are not Made in Canada (nobody seems to make aluminium or steel bottles in Canada) but they are a great Canadian company - They even received a thumbs up from David Suzuki!

( ) Waist / Backpack

( ) Basic first-aid items

( ) Sun screen

( ) Lip balm. Try Buy Canadian First member's products like the Clear Lip Saver by Aroma Crystal Therapy, Tuscan Farm Gardens Organic Lavender Honey Lip Balm, or Pursea Lip Balm.


( ) Natural bug repellant. I make my own but try the Natural Insect Repellent by Glengarry Gardens for yourself and maybe the Tuscan Farm Gardens Lavender Body Spray for your dog.


( ) Natural doggy treats (not essential but always appreciated)

( ) Leather leash and collar. I really like this leather dog lead and leather dog collar from Buy Canadian First member Roots.

Roots Dog lead


Roots Dog Leather collar


And don't forget your camera! Even during short walks just this past week, I was able to sight a red-winged blackbird flying over the crop fields, a deer feeding in the early morning sunlight and a rainbow arching across the sky. You just never know what is in store for you, even in your own backyard.

Explore, discover and enjoy!

A camera is also handy to capture any antics your dog may decide to throw your way. Dogs In Canada magazine often has a photo contest and, who knows, you may just get that winning image!


Being prepared makes all adventures more enjoyable and that includes learning about your area and what natural wonders you can find. Summer to early autumn, as even urban lovers know, is a time when wildlife is in abundance. An encounter we all dread is one with our friendly neighbourhood striped skunk. You can't get more natural than a skunk, however, there are some things in nature we may like to live without.

 Image sources: Flickr Creative Commons, Jesse Yardley (,


Bug Off!! A guide to fighting mosquitoes naturally

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

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Just think about everything you put on your skin daily: deodorant, soap, cream, sunscreen, bug spray and hand sanitizer are but a few. The average woman will absorb nearly 2.3 Kg (5 lbs.) of cosmetics and other beauty products each year by using nearly 20 different products. The risks associated can be minor skin irritations to a more serious illness like cancer. It is said all these products are safe but it is argued that is only individually are these chemicals safe, when they are combined, their properties change and they could become harmful. The best plan of action is to become an informed consumer.

The most common active ingredient in insect repellent is DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) and is very effective to prevent mosquito and tick bites. DEET comes in various concentrations from 100% to 10% and the concentration tend to govern how long the chemical will work (100% = 12 hours) and must be washed off your skin after use. In studies DEET has shown to be effective and safe when used as directed but there are several cases of people experiencing harmful and deadly outcomes from DEET use. DEET has been proven to cause skin irritations and in severe cases seizures, brain damage and even death. Clearly, one has to weigh the risks of toxicity and the risk of diseases like the West Nile Virus or Lyme disease, right? Well maybe not.

Mosquito bites are a nuisance but also potentially deadly as all around the world they spread illnesses such as Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, and Encephalitis. In Canada, West Nile Fever whose symptoms are fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and rash. Severe symptoms can include neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, vision loss and paralysis. These systems can last weeks or a life time. Those who are bitten by an infected mosquito, only 20% will show the symptoms after 14 days. Infants, the elderly and individuals with auto-immune illnesses are especially at risk. Here are some steps to help reduce your risk of mosquito and other bug bites.


  • Remove all standing water from your yard. It is likely that your back yard is breeding these pests, things like flower pots, old tires, pet water dishes, bird baths, patio chairs and any other place where water can pool is a possible nest for mosquito larvae. 
  • Bt israelensis (Bt-i)  (Bacillus thuringiensis var israelensis) is a biological pesticide designed to only kill mosquito, black fly and fungus gnat larvae. Can be used nearly anywhere there is standing water. This can be safely placed in birdbaths, rain barrels, rain gutters and anywhere you have accumulated water.
  • Wear loose light coloured clothing.
  • Invite bats to live in your yard as they will eat thousands of mosquitoes every night buy a bat house or create another opportunity to turn off the TV and build a bat house with your family.
  • Keep pots of basil and rosemary growing near your doors to discourage mosquitoes from hanging around.
  • Stay indoors during prime feeding times.
  • Investigate the natural wonders of Neem Oil, a wonderplant that has healing properties and also acts as a natural insecticide read more at Woodland Natural Remedies.

Make your own natural mosquito repellents

Making your own repellent is easy and requires just a few ingredients: Some essential oils and a carrier oil or alcohol.

  • Essential Oils: 10-25 drops total.
Any of these essential oils are effective mosquito repellents. You can choose one or create a mixture of three: Basil, eucalyptus, cloves, geranium, peppermint, rosemary, lemon balm (citronella), feverfew, cinnamon, lavender, castor, pine, fir, spruce, cedar and cypress.
  • Carrier oil or alcohol: 29.5 ml (2 TBSP)

Choose one of these are effective carriers: Olive oil, sunflower oil, cooking oil, witch hazel, water, vodka

Apply the solution avoiding your eyes and other sensitive areas, reapply after an hour, swimming or exercise. When not in use, store away from direct light in a dark coloured bottle.

Natural Insect Repellent by Buy Canadian First Member Glengarry Gardens, a natural blend of essential oils in soybean oil, great for the whole family.


Druide's Citronella line are all natural products free of colourants, nuts or nut oils and petroleum by-products. The entire line is available through our member Well's website


All Things Jill's Bug Joose is another effective natural repellent that contains no chemicals, making it safe for the environment. Get some though our member Organically Hatched.


How do you combat the onslaught of these pesky critters? Share your tips and tricks with us and have a itch-free remainder of summer. 


Camping in Canada's Parks

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

Category / Catégorie: Coast to coast tourism

Camping and visiting in Canada's parks is truly a treasure for Canadians. When I was a girl my grandparents would take me camping to Nutimik Lake during the summer months. I associate Canada parks with childhood memories like running barefoot through clover, making sand castle kingdoms for my leopard frog friends and learning about the stars from my grandfather. So precious are these memories to me now as my grandparents have long since passed. Our National Parks are found in every province and territory they are for us to enjoy and protect.

Preparing for a camping trip is generally easy and as long as you remember everything you won't be found spending too much money at the lakeside's overpriced corner store. Another saving money tidbit is all parks have a fee freeze! From now until April 1 2011 the general public will be paying the 2008 fees and for Manitobans, all provincial parks will be free until April 30th 2011.

With this great news let's prepare for our trip. It's always good to know the climate you are camping in and what kind of potential natural hazards could affect your stay and be prepared for them (of course not all camping trips are littered with doom, nearly all are enjoyable family vacations! teehee). Find out what activities and events are going on in your province, book a reservation in selected parks or use the handy travel planner.

There is one key point we should be aware of when we enter our parks; our environmental footprint. It is very easy to change the delicate balance of nature, these changes can happens quickly or slowly, but there is no excuse for not being aware and taking measures to be responsible for our own actions.

Never transport firewood from your home to your campsite; it is prudent always get local firewood as it runs the risk of relocating a new insect or other organism into the existing ecosystem. This could have lasting and devastating effects.

It is always best to bring camping dishes rather than disposable dishes to reduce our trash but the right dish soap is important as well. Pick something that is free of dyes, petroleum based solvents and that is biodegradable in a short time, like this dishwashing liquid from Bio-Vert.

Be sure to read any news bulletins posted at the entrace of the park and keep to designated camping areas to not disturb plant and animal life. You can learn more about the Parks natural heritage here

The greatest camping list ever, well maybe not quite, but this check list is a great start to make sure you cover the basics (let me know what you would add to it in the comments below) and I also provide some great Made in Canada options in case you are refreshing some of your camping supplies and gear!

Shelter and bedding

( ) Tent
( ) Ground cloth/tarp  
( ) Shade tarp/poles/rope/stakes  
( ) Air pump  
( ) Air mattress/sleeping pad/cot/tarp  
( ) Sleeping bag/sheets/blankets
( ) Pillows (you HAVE to try Align-Right's camping pillow!)


( ) Pots and frying pans with lids/dutch oven
( ) Potholders/oven mitts
( ) Utensils and cutlery-spatula/knife/spoon/tongs/forks/skewers
( ) Mixing bowl/measuring cups/cutting board (check out Eraware's incredible aray of products here)
( ) Reusable bottle/coffee pot
( ) Charcoal/firewood
( ) Fire starters/newspaper
( ) Plates/bowls/mugs/cups 
( ) Can opener/bottle opener/potato peeler
( ) Campfire grill/BBQ grill
( ) Stove with fuel/propane
( ) Big refillable water jug
( ) Coolers/ice/ice packs (check out the great selection from our member Cryopak)
( ) Heavy-duty aluminum foil
( ) Zipper sealed bags
( ) Paper towels (100% recycled paper towels from our member Cascades)
( ) Dish pan/dish soap/dish rags/towels/scrub pad
( ) Trash bags (try these biodegradable bags by Munger, available at your local supermarket)
( ) All your favourite camping foods, including cooking oil, condiments herbs and spices

Other essentials

( ) Sunscreen/lip balm 
( ) Flashlight/batteries
( ) Matches/lighter
( ) Pocket knife
( ) Axe/hammer
( ) Bug repellant (try members Gengarry Garden's Natural Bug Balm or All Things Jill's Big Joose)
( ) Rope
( ) Bungi cords/straps
( ) Hand wipes
( ) First aid kit
( ) Camera/battery/film/video
( ) Cards/games/toys/golf/books/magazines/notepad/pen/music instruments/bicycles/etc (Get one of these super cute note books for the kids from members Ecojot )
( ) Maps/directions/reservations info./confirmation/park map/ guidebooks/ trail maps
( ) Folding chairs
( ) Umbrella/Rain gear
( ) Sunglasses/hat
( ) Radio
( ) Fishing gear/license/bait


Handy Supply Box
Things you may need handy

( ) Extra stakes
( ) Repair kit for air mattress/tent
( ) Extra Batteries/bulbs/matches/lighters
( ) Duct tape/electrical tape
( ) Candles
( ) Misc. tools
( ) Small sewing kit
( ) Work gloves



( ) Mat for tent entrance
( ) Dust pan/brush
( ) Lantern with fuel/mantles
( ) Compass/GPS
( ) Binoculars
( ) Whistle (check out Fox40's array of Safety Whistles here)
( ) Water filters/purification/treatment
( ) Lantern pole or hanger
( ) Hammock (Kingcord Hammocks have some great ones)
( ) Travel alarm clock

Have a safe and wonderful camping season! Send us your favourite recipes, camping locations and eco camping tips! We love hearing from you.


The ultimate made-in-Canada Father's Day shopping guide

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

Category / Catégorie: Shopping guides

It's that time of year again and Father's day is coming up, but what can we get him this year? Don't you worry as Buy Canadian First will take the stress of what to buy Dad this Father's Day.

The origin of Father's day began in the early 20th century when a woman from Washington State named Sonora Smart Dodd decided to honour her father, William Jackson Smart with a father's day, after listening to a Mother's Day sermon in church.  She approached the Spokane Ministerial Alliance and suggested a Father's Day be held and they agreed. They chose the 3rd Sunday in June. The first Father's Day was held June 19th 1910.

Sweet Tooth Dad
Dad will love this Dark chocolate covered caramel popcorn from David's. Fresh popped caramel popcorn covered in 100% pure Belgian dark chocolate... actually sweet tooth dad would adore any of David's products. See more products here.

Foodie Dad
Foodie dad, always nibbling on the tastiest of creations, will adore these Honey Glazes from Verry Berry Honey. Used for dipping and marinating or whatever his imagination dreams up.

Cool Dad
Maybe he rides a motorcycle or maybe he just always hangs out with the kids and they love it. Regardless, he is one super cool daddio. This stunning 100% Canadian-made leather Roots One Week Jacket will keep dad looking hip even though he's cool enough already!

Gardener Dad
Do you often feel if plants weren't rooted to the ground they would follow dad about the yard? Well if so then this Kerri-All Basket from the Garden Bandit will be fantastic. These baskets can display plants or magazines, wash fresh picked garden veggies and everything in between.

Lux Dad
A man of wealth and style, he is demure and retires to the salon in the evening to relax or take care of business and perhaps have a Scotch. These Single Malt Scotch glasses by Nova Scotian Crystal are a perfect choice for this dad. The glasses are designed to enhance the already divine. A wide bowl lets the aroma escape, a narrow neck channels the bouquet and a flared tip directs the precious liquid to just the right place on the tongue.

Dad is Looking Good
Skin care is for everyone including dad. Deodorant soaps and body washes are great for the body but no so much for the face. Dad may enjoy this Face Cleanser for Men by Vidoma soothing and gentle it is perfect for all skin types- even the really macho manly ones. Be quick, Vidoma will be closing its doors soon. 

Dad the Chef
Just like with any profession or hobby, the better the tools, the easier it is and these are tools for a dad who loves to cook, and it will certainly heat his griddle (ha). Paderno makes beautiful stainless steel cookware designed for precise heat control and durability. The Confederation line by Paderno comes with a 25 year warranty. Clearly a set of pans for our chef extraordinaire is not enough as we will need a bar-b-que from Napoleon Grills to cook with.

Oh yes these beauties have burners and rotisseries and are available in lots of styles. Fill dad's heart with joy and simultaneously fill your belly.

Grizzly Dad
He chops wood and makes the best campfires, he cooks a gourmet meal on open flames and plucks fish out of the water with his bare hands, or so it seems. Dad is an outdoorsman. But at the end of the day when the forest work is done this rugged papa will retire to the campfire. The comforting sway of a Bougainville Hammock from Kingcord and the strumming of Cedar Blue Cutaway Model Guitar by Art & Lutherie will complete the day and make everyone sing!



Each dad is unique and we couldn't possibly get all the dads out the in one post so if you don't see your dad here don't be discouraged. A gift for dad is waiting for you with one of Buy Canadian First's 174 members and all of their fabulous Canadian-made products. Happy Father's Day Canada. You dads are the best!

Enterprise Rent-A-Car CA