Bay Awesome 2021 TBay Top 20 Gift List

There’s absolutely no place like home for the holidays! So where else would you get your Christmas gifts, other than right here in Thunder Bay? Tis’ the season to start shopping LOCAL, so to relieve some stress and cutout the guesswork, I’ve rounded up some of the most awesome gifts of the year just for YOU! Gifts to help your favourite adventurer answer the call of the wild, along with a fairytale tenting experience, access to a super secret membership, a ton of assorted artisan treasures, a piece of Canadian history, and a brew that spends the entire winter on ice, (well actually under it). All must-haves for your BFFs and the special people in your life.

Main photography by Dave Zahodnik of DZ Photography

1. Thunder Bay Box: kraft.

It doesn’t get more local than this! It’s Thunder Bay in a box!!! Need to get a gift for someone out of town, or perhaps a little bit of TBaylovin’ for that individual in your life that’s proud to call Thunder Bay home? The Thunder Bay Box curated by kraft, packs so much local goodness in one gift.

It features TEN locally made items, which includes cool TBay icon stickers by Western Creative, a Lake Superior pottery magnet by Sunshine Pottery, an exclusive Vik Wilen Sleeping Giant print, a piece of local amethyst, the CUTEST little Persian pin thy Boy Roland, Lovely Body North Shore soap, a Camp candle from Waxxed Candle Co, a mini from Heartbeat Hot Sauce, a Waggish (fox) painting by Ice Bear Studios and even a Gouda wedge from  Thunder Oak Cheese Farm!  Available at Waxxed Candle Co or online.

@kraft_tbay

2. Chocolate Croissants: Bakeshop on Boundary 

Step aside, muffins, coffee cake, and scones! The best breakfast pastry in the world is, without a doubt, the chocolate croissant, from the Bakeshop on Boundary. 

The buttery, chocolatey, delicious pastry makes for the perfect treat on Christmas morning. With its flaky layers and glistening butter glaze, the Bakeshop on Boundary stays true to the authentic French chocolate croissant,  having the perfect amount of chocolate with a level of sweetness that is just SO right. So what is the secret ingredient… a butter from a top secret creamery, paired with passion and a dedication to how they made croissants in Paris 100 years ago. 

“When I was introduced to French artisan pastries, I really fell in love with them. It really embodies what I felt was magical about food, the chemistry and tradition.”- Emily Smith

The cute little bakery with an awesome view, was created in 2016, by husband and wife, Parker and Emily Smith. They also make amazing bread and buns that you can taste at several local restaurants. 

The Bakeshop on Boundary is open Wednesday and Thursday from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. It’s located at 920 Boundary Drive in Neebing. You can expect a lot of holiday treats from the family throughout the month of December. 

3.The Canvas Inn: Gone Glamping!

In Thunder Bay, we’ve been camping since we could walk, so I think it’s fair to say we’ve all slept in an impressive variety of tents. If this tent seems like something out of a fairytale, that’s because it practically is. Camping has never been this stylish! The Canvas Inn that was launched this past July, brings glamping to Thunder Bay, with furnished luxury tent accommodations at a location of your choice.  

The bell-shaped tent is just shy of 10-feet tall and has a roomy interior of 212 square feet (it’s big enough to fit two queen beds). Set ups feature comfy beds with memory foam mattresses, luxury linens, pillows, side tables, furnishings in the tent as well as rugs and mood lighting.  You can also expect a few little surprises as well.  

“The Canvas Inn experience gives you the feeling of being on vacation; it’s like walking into a hotel room.  Aside from the lovely accommodations, one of the best parts about our service is that we take the work out of tenting it.  Our guests can just show up, relax and when it is time to head home, we take care of the rest.”

One of the best parts of this gift is the versatility.  The Canvas Inn set ups can be used in so many ways— from a weekend retreat to connect with friends, a fun way to spend time with your family, a romantic getaway, or even larger events like weddings or festivals. Since its launch, the Canvas Inn has been set up in backyards, country properties and even provincial parks. 

Gift certificates for next season are available in any amount. For purchase inquiries email: thecanvasinn@gmail.com

thecanvasinn.com @thecanvasinn

4. Chunky Knit Blanket: Knits By Nat

Blankets are definitely a staple holiday gift. After all, adding a layer of coziness at this time of year and a way to get through the frosty temperatures is a must! Snuggling up in this chunky knit blanket by Knits by Nat makes everything feel that much better…. and warmer. 

Made of 100% polyester, it’s soft, durable and, most notably, machine washable. That means you don’t have to worry if the dog lays on it, if you spill, and you can even take it to camp!  You can take this blanket from the bed to the couch to the dinner table and then back to bed again.

Available in an impressive multitude of beautiful colours, they all feature handmade quality craftsmanship that will make their coziest dreams come true! Visit knitsbynat.ca or visit Natalie at Craft Revival (she will be located at the Delta!) 

@knitsbynat.tbay

Also featured in photo: Stockings by Emma Baxter of Hula Handmade Knits. 

5. Custom Lake Board: Nor’wester Designs- SOLD OUT

Have a favourite memory at the lake? Each Nor’wester Designs Lake Board is custom made illustrating the lake of your choice. The one-of-a-kind product is made from live edge ambrosia maple wood, each piece with a unique shape, characteristics, and colour. Nor’wester Designs carefully sands each piece until perfectly smooth, engraves the board, and then applies a non toxic environmentally-friendly coating. Each board comes with hardware to hang.

“Lakes in Northern Ontario are a place to make memories and have fun. No two lakes are the same and neither are the Nor’Wester Designs lake boards. Each board has unique natural beauty combined with a high standard of craftsmanship making it a welcomed addition to any home or camp.” Ashley- Nor’wester Designs

Custom orders are open until December 5th. @norwester.designs

6. Bill Martin’s Christmasland

My very first Christmas tree as a child came from Bill Martin’s Nurseryland, gifted to me by none other than Bill Martin himself. It was a beautiful, soft pink tree standing at 4-feet tall, flocked and full of twinkle lights. I would get so excited year after year to set up the little tree in my bedroom, hopeful that Santa would be persuaded to leave a couple extra gifts under it—A memory and feeling of Christmas I won’t ever forget.  

Bill was a Christmas fanatic. Daughter Cathy who now operates the family business, shares a story of how her dad used to run around the house during the holiday season trying to decorate everything in sight. On a trip one year, they saw a nursery with a Christmas room, he was inspired and everything just evolved from there. The local nursery has been creating a winter wonderland now since 1980. Over the last couple of years, they have incorporated local artisans into the mix, having vendor pop ups every Saturday. You will find everything for the holiday season (and more) at the local shop including the famous Christmas pickle.

Bill Martin’s Nurseryland (Christmasland) is located at 265 Court Street South.

www.billmartins.ca @billmartinsnurseryland

7. Loch Lomond One Thousand Club

Give the gift of a very exclusive club! If they have an adventurous spirit, are maybe a bit of an adrenaline junkie, need a winter activity, or are just looking for the feeling of community, the Loch Lomond One Thousand Club will make an awesome gift. The club which is only open to people who have NEVER (ever) skied before, is a two-day Beginner Ski Intensive offered at an insanely low cost ($100), as the hill is on a mission to recruit 1000 newbies to ski this winter.

Photo: Dan Garrity
Photo: Dan Garrity

It will run for two consecutive days and offers participants eight hours of on-snow training with qualified instructors and includes access rental equipment and lifts. Individuals who complete the training will then be inducted into Loch Lomond’s One Thousand Club, a super-secret society offering members perks and discounts at the hill for the rest of the Ski Season. 

“Winter in Canada can be miserable without having something to create joy! Learning to ski opens the winter up to adventure, exploration, a sense of community, and most importantly gives you something to do!”

lochlomond.ca @loch_lomond_ski

8. Custom Pup Ornaments: Northern Designs Co.

Don’t forget about your pup this Christmas… or that family member who is obsessed with their furry friend! This holiday season, Northern Designs Co is featuring a personalized pet ornament to compliment their custom pet apparel and accessories. 

Pets hold special places in our hearts, which means it’s only fitting a dog ornament gets front and center on the Christmas tree. Yes, that bobble celebrating your new home is important, but so is the one with a portrait of Fido’s smiling face on it!

For many, buying new decorations each year is a tradition, and what better way to recognize the most important member of the family than to hang up an ornament in their honour (after hanging their stocking on the mantle of course).

Northern Designs Co accept orders online as well as on their socials. Lanna Pattison and Tamara Brown just love working with your cute pup photos!  @northern_designsco

9. Limited Edition Deep 6!: Lake of the Woods Brewing Company

I know I usually stick to gifts that are just from Thunder Bay, but I had to expand into the region this year, as this present is just TOO COOL to pass up! Deep 6 is lagered 20-feet under the ice (over the winter) for six months at the bottom of Lake of the Woods!!!

Photo: Tom Thomson
Photo: Tom Thomson
Photo: Tom Thomson

This year’s batch is a Belgian Tripel finished with Champagne yeast and will be ready for pick-up or delivery in June 2022. 

“It’s the perfect gift for the beer lover or hard-to-buy for person in your life.”

Each bottle is hand numbered and is packaged in it’s own custom printed container. When you pre-buy this beer, you will receive a a gift certificate you can print or email, and Lake of the Woods Brewing Company is offering a $10 flat fee for delivery to its friends in Thunder Bay. 

Photo: Tom Thomson

There’s only 2000 bottles available in Ontario and they are almost sold out. Pre-sales are on now at www.deep6.beer @lowbrewco

For a TBay brew, check out Sleeping Giant Brewing Company’s Northern Winter Survival Kit. Brewed with Lake Superior water and locally malted barley, this kit will warm anyone right up. It includes an exclusive Cranberry Saision, Northern Logger Golden Ale, Skull Rock Oatmeal Stout and a limited edition SGBC toque in various colours. The kit is now available in LCBO locations across Ontario, Sleeping Giant Brewery, and online. @sgbco

10. The Recycled Sleeping Giant Snapback: Ungalli Clothing Co.

Made ethically in Canada for the first time ever! (hats used to be one of the only things Ungalli had to make outside of the country), the Recycled Sleeping Giant Snapback is made with an organic cotton twill front, has recycled polyester mesh sides, adjustable snap back, with curved and flat brim options.

It’s a wardrobe classic as much as jeans and a tee! The history of the snapback lies in baseball, but is not to be confused with the baseball cap. Although the two are very similar in nature, the snapback gets its name from the adjustable strap or snap in the back… making it a one size fits all style.

Each hat recycles 9 plastic bottles. To date, the sustainable clothing company has recycled 1.2 MILLION PET bottles through their awesome clothing line. Woah!

ungalli.com @ungalliclothingco Located at: 115 Cumberland St. N 

11. Goods & Co Market 

If you’re looking to buy all your gifts in one place and have a fun experience at the same time (and hey, maybe even enjoy a cocktail or two while you shop), look no further than the new Goods & Co Market located in the former iconic Eaton’s building.

Find everything you are looking for (and even some things you didn’t know you were looking for) with over 35 vendors in 18,000 square feet of space. Literally new discoveries at every turn. 

It’s a market that truly reflects the city’s originality and diversity, with many authentic and creative shops and so many awesome one-of-a-kind products from talented emerging artisans and up and coming food entrepreneurs. 

Nostalgia instantly set in when I walked into the Sugar Shack for the first time, a candy store that reminded me of the classic treats I used to get at the location as a kid. Named after the countless little shacks that can be found in maple forests as sap gets boiled into maple syrup, this little boutique by Canada West Maple has a whole lot of sweet goodness… even house made cotton candy (with a maple syrup spin). 

Take a break and visit the Woodside Bar for a Gift Giver cocktail, and maybe even a boxed charcuterie or sushi. It’s kind of neat seeing that street angle from the inside. The original Woodside foundry in Thunder Bay, generated electricity in the city in 1888.

Epica Pictures for Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce– Choose TBay First

Keep a look out for the birch bark jewelry and jingle earrings from Cree Stevens. They always sell out and are absolutely stunning. Cree combines natural materials such as birch bark, driftwood, quills, leather, and copper with industrial components like paint, resin, concrete, and re-purposed & found items, to create mixed media paintings, sculptures, wearable art, and jewelry.

You can also build your own bouquet at Velvet Rope Floral with an entire wall of fresh cut blooms to pick and choose from. 

Goods & Co Market holiday hours: Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday- 11 am – 7pm, Saturday & Sunday 10 pm – 4pm.

@goodscomarket

12. East Coast Lobster’s Bag and Boil Holiday Pack- SOLD OUT

There’s something so fun about pouring food into the middle of the table and letting everyone dive in! Seafood boils have always been, and continue to be, a big draw for crowd-pleasing get togethers and is always memorable for all the right reasons! Nothing is better than sitting at a long table eating fresh seafood off butcher’s paper with your fingers, making a mess and wearing one of those funny bibs.

This gift is sure to delight the seafood lovers in your life. The Bag and Boil Holiday Pack from East Coast Lobster & Seafood will feed four people comfortably and includes mussels, clams, lobster tails, lobster claws, Argentinian shrimp, pork sausages, lemons, Old Bay Seasoning, along with an awesome cooler bag to go pick up your goods. The team is is also throwing in the cooking instructions and highly recommends you add potatoes and butter! 

“It’s fun, it’s messy, it brings together a really unique combination of food to try for this region, and customers can run with it in a number of directions. This package gives you the convenience to pick your time and place and have a great evening of awesome seafood.” – Aaron Gillingham, Owner

A seafood boil is relatively simple to pull off – It’s all cooked in one giant pot and served up on newspaper for easy clean-up. For details head to East Coast Lobster & Seafood or call (807) 577-6111. @seafoodthunderbay

13. Silver Islet General Store Merch

Did you have a chance to visit the newly restored and simply charming Silver Islet General Store this past summer? Celebrating its 150th anniversary, it opened its doors once again after being closed since 2015. 

The General Store was first constructed in 1871, and originally supported operations at the Silver Islet mine which was known back then as the RICHEST SILVER MINE IN THE WORLD… pretty awesome fact. So why not give a piece of Canadian history with a Silver Islet gift!

Silver Islet General Store long sleeve shirts made by Ungalli Clothing Co are so soft and comfy, you’ll want to live in them the entire holiday season. They are also a sustainable shirt, meaning with every purchase you have a green impact of 53 days of drinking water saved and 9 hours of light bulb energy conserved. 

Sweatshirts are 80% cotton, pre-shrunk and are available in a range of colours. 

Hand stitched, Silver Islet General Store felt pennants come in a variety of colours and look fabulous in any home or camp. 

Silver Islet General Store Miner Toques are for northern winters, made with 100% wool and double rolled at the ear for added warmth. 

One of a kind Silver Islet General Store Buffs were designed by talented local artist Vik Wilen, and make the perfect stocking stuffer, along with a branded 11oz Coffee Mug. The whimsical colour print of the General Store illustrated by artist Ray Mancil is available on its own or framed while quantities last. 

When you purchase Silver Islet General Store merch you’re also helping to preserve a significant piece of the areas history. The Korkola’s have a lot planned for next season! Guests can expect the reopening of the Tea Room, and the return of its homemade desserts, soups and light lunches, along with  local live music performances and various workshops that will run throughout the spring, summer and fall months. High Tea and Saturday night moonlight teas will also make a comeback!  @silverisletgeneralstore All merch can be purchased at silverisletgeneral.ca

14. SANTA BABY!  

These local gifts will make any baby go ga-ga! 

The only thing almost as cute as sweet baby toes are baby toes in cozy little booties! Norm and Lou Handmade booties come in three sizes, from newborn up to 12 months. They come in wool free, luxury merino and luxury Pima cotton. For every pair purchased, $2 is donated to The Ontario Pregnancy and Infant Loss support Centre.

Norm and Lou also has its popular Cub hats available in sizes for kids of all ages. They just came out for the first time in extra cozy luxury merino. 

Norm and Lou booties and hats are available at its Goods & Co Market location. @normandlouhandmade

Thunder Bay, represent! Ungalli Clothing Co’s adorable onesie is perfect for the babe in your life. Made from 100% organic cotton, this Born in TBay outfit features easy-snap fasteners for quick access when changing.

Keiki Collective’s Superior Chew will delight newborns and infants this holiday season. Made from 100% Canadian sourced hard white maple, the teether brings a little piece of the great lake home. It’s best suited  for ages 0-18. Stephanie, the creator, explains that wood helps to cut budding teeth and silicone massages the sore gums. Also available at Keiki Collective’s shop in Goods and Co Market or online. @keiki.collective

15. Thunder Bay Prints: Pulp + Paper Creative

She did it again! These Thunder Bay prints from Pulp + Paper Creative add a pop of colour to any room and are great conversation starters. We all have a memory or two at each of the locations that designer Heather Cranston magically captured in each piece. 

The Harbour lighthouse, Slate River Valley, Ney’s and the top of the Giant are the first four to become Thunder Bay in Print, with a limited colour palette, simple in shape – and big love for Tbay!

“Wish You Were Here – It’s been a LONG time since our Tbay friends who have moved away have been able to hop on a plane and come back to see family, friends… and *allll* the sights. This print series is for exactly that – the friends that miss it and the people who were thankful to be here all along.”

Heather explains that they are all created through Risograph printing, which  is a technique best described as ‘digital screen printing’. The process is similar to screen printing, where a single transparent colour is printed layer by layer, but with the convenience of digital technology. It’s known for its vivid colours and textures, and ‘perfect imperfections’.

Prints are 11×14 and are $40 each. They are available at Pulpcreativeshop.ca and at Craft Revival at Goods & Co. If you purchase online use promo code BAYAWESOME to get all FOUR prints for $100. (Thanks Heather!) 

@pulpandpapercreative

16. Lakehead Region Conservation Authority Explore Cards

Make the view-seeking, trail-walking, outdoors-loving person on your list a happy camper with an Explore Card Parking Pass.

Now more than ever, people are turning to the great outdoors to find peace, grounding, balance, and just plain fun. Outdoor adventures have become the safest, easiest, and most popular way to get away moving into post-pandemic times.

The Explore Card allows visitors to the LRCA’s 8 Conservation Areas and two publicly-accessible Forest Management Properties in the Lakehead Region to forgo the $5.00 per vehicle day-use parking fee for one calendar year. Basically, if you visit one of their sites more than 8 times in a year, the Explore Card has paid for itself! At only $40.00 +HST it is one of the cheapest annual passes of all 36 Conservation Authorities across the Province. The pass is valid at an array of awesome locations:

• Cascades

• Mission Island Marsh

• Hazelwood Lake

• Little Trout Bay

• Silver Harbour

• MacKenzie Point

• Cedar Falls

• Hurkett Cove

• Mills Block Forest

• Wishart Forest

The best part is all revenue generated through the sale of Explore Card Parking Passes and day-use parking fees goes DIRECTLY towards the upkeep and maintenance of the LRCA’s Conservation Areas. The LRCA doesn’t receive any provincial funding for Conservation Areas so it is pretty important we provide our support.  

Explore Cards can be purchased online at: store.lakeheadca.com or at the LRCA Administrative Office at 130 Conservation Road (corner of Golf Links and Oliver Roads). 

Please note the office is open from Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and is closed for lunch from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

17. Stay Lit- Waxxed Candle Co Stocking Stuffers 

Waxxed Candle Co owner Kate Strange now understands after living in Thunder Bay for a couple years, that a sauna in northern Ontario, is a rite of passage- and that’s exactly how she describes her latest creation.  She’s introduced a way to bring the sauna from camp, home. The Sauna Candle captures the distinct aromas of a natural cedar sauna that will make you feel like you are splashing water on the rocks and detoxing from all the stresses of life. @waxxedcandleco

Maria Maria Photography

H. Creations Co. resin art serving paddles / charcuterie boards are designed for quality and are handmade, making each one unique. Each board is 100% food safe, eco-friendly epoxy, waterproof, long lasting and natural wood materials. 

Creator Haleigh Robertson was inspired while prepping for the Kraft artisan market back in September that was hosted  at Prince Arthur’s Landing. “Born and raised in Thunder Bay, I thought what better way to represent a piece of home than to have some resin water art.” @hcreationsco

This is not your traditional ornament, but will definitely beautify your tree. Flower goddess, Graysen Thompson of George’s Market was looking for a way to cut back on waste as a florist, and found another way for people to enjoy her beautiful blooms. These dried flowers ornaments can be used year round, and everything in them is Canadian grown. 

All items are available for purchase at Waxxed Candle Co. located at: 16 Cumberland St N

18. Entershine Bookstore

Did you know that in Iceland, books are exchanged on Christmas Eve, then the tradition is to spend the rest of the night reading and eating chocolate? Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Make your own holiday tradition and visit the Entershine Bookshop. Located in the Bay & Algoma district, the cute neighbourhood bookshop (I think Thunder Bay’s only independent bookshop) is stacked to the ceiling with hundreds of books.

From paperbacks to hardcovers, children’s to adult, fiction to non-fiction, the shop offers a selection of book choices and genres, but what makes it my favourite is that they also provide an ENTIRE section of local authors. 

If you aren’t sure what book to get for that special someone, leave it to the Entershine team as they love recommending books. That’s why they established a monthly subscription program, that is carefully curated. Subscriptions are available for 1, 2, 6 or 12 months. Each month, the new member receives a subscription box that includes:

  • One new hardcover OR two paperbacks
  • Choice of coffee or tea
  • A sweet treat or other special surprise
  • An exclusive artisan bookmark

www.entershinebookshop.ca/collections/subscriptions @entershinebookshop Located at: 196 Algoma St S

19. Kwik Activewear 

If you’ve got someone in your life who’s an adventurer, loves lounging, or is a fitness guru, you’re in luck. Whether they’re hitting the gym, going for a hike, or just beginning to learn yoga, Kwik has created activewear for everyone.

Even though all of us own workout clothes, it’s rare to come across a top or pants that you truly love. Kwik is comfortable, well-fitting, and these workout clothes not only keep you inspired, but the clothing is flattering and makes you feel good!! Total WIN!

“In terms of function we are so happy to be able to say our leggings and biker shorts are completely squat proof and stay exactly where they should during any athletic movements you try.”

Kwik is a sibling owned company based in Thunder Bay. It has a goal to make athletic wear available locally and more affordable. Check out Kwik sets and stay tuned for a new product line that will broaden the company’s audience even further this December. @kwik.co

20. Brick & Mortar Food Co

New to the St.Paul Street neighbourhood, Brick & Mortar Food Co is a specialty shop for all things food in Northern Ontario. Created and operated by Jim Stadey and Derek Lankinen, these guys know their stuff with years of experience in the food industry and a couple of very successful local eateries under their belt. The quaint grocery boutique takes food-buying to the next level, with meticulously curated small-batched products and house-made everything. 

The duo decided to launch Brick and Mortar Food Co as the next step from Elite Beef (high quality steak company they also developed together), “We wanted more people to share in the whole experience of a phenomenal meal. We love food, preparing food, teaching about food and sharing food.”

You will find a lot of awesome local stocking stuffers at the shop, and if you can’t choose, just grab the Holiday Gift Pack ($75) that includes Maldon Salt, custom Hooligan Hot Sauce, a pack of Black Pepper Casarecce, Bacon Gorgonzola steak butter and a pack of elite Beef Gold Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin. 

“Whether you are just getting started or are a master on the grill, there is always something new to try.” 

@brickandmortarfoodco Located at: 18 St Paul St

Happy Shopping!!! Bay Awesome xo

About the author

Amanda Bay

Amanda is a PR Gal from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. She is a news enthusiast and communications specialist, navigating the media world for over 17 years. Being very passionate about her community, she strives to create a positive reaction through giving back and her work. It's about finding the awesome in all of life's experiences.

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