Stack of Gifts

10 Great Christmas Gifts at the Cannery Gift Shop

An original story sponsored by the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site

With lots of independent boutiques, Steveston is a magnet for holiday shoppers. But Richmond’s charming shoreline village is also home to a hidden gem store that’s packed with perfect pressie ideas for just about everyone on your list.


The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site is arguably B.C.’s best industrial museum. Once the province’s largest salmon-canning plant, it’s cavernous wooden sheds are now filled with fascinating interpretive displays. But the site’s cleverly curated gift shop is also a must-see. And it’s brimming with cool items that are hard to find anywhere else.


On our recent outing, we explored the Cannery’s store and created our own hit list of 10 top Christmas gift ideas. Check them out on your next visit. And while you don’t need to enter the museum to access the shop, we highly recommend perusing the evocative exhibits here––as well as the site’s sparkling Steveston Festival of Trees, on display from December 1 to 24.

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1. St. Jean’s Canned Seafood...

A quirky alternative stocking-stuffer, these hand-packed cans of wild albacore tuna and wild smoked sockeye salmon are from B.C.’s last-remaining seafood cannery. Nanaimo-based St. Jean’s has been operating since 1961, and their locally caught products are celebrated by gourmands around the region. Fancy creating a delicious hamper for a fish-loving friend? The gift store also stocks the company’s Salt Spring mussels, seafood chowder spice and much more.


2. Hand-painted Glass Ornaments...

Every year, our Christmas tree is crammed with countless baubles. But we would happily make room for these breathtakingly beautiful hand-painted ornaments from Quebec-based Oscardo. Showcasing the colourful work of Canadian artists from Jamie Sterritt to Lawren Harris and many more, the store has a good selection to choose from––we especially love this Dawn Oman polar bear creation. Sold in padded cotton presentation boxes, they also make perfect gifts.


3. From The Sea and Shore: Steveston’s Favourite Japanese Canadian Recipes...

This new taste-tripping tome has been selling like hotcakes here. And it’s not hard to see why. Brimming with 65 authentic recipes from the area’s deeply-rooted Japanese-Canadian community, its bounty of traditional dishes defines the concept of soul food. Luscious photos of everything from shrimp curry to pickled octopus to jibu (a fortifying stew) trigger instant salivation––but we also love the short profiles of many of the locals who contributed stories and recipes.


4. Hot Chocolate Mixes...

Need more stocking stuffers? They can hardly keep up with demand here for these Canadian-made Gourmet Village hot chocolate sachets, perfectly priced at just $1.50 each. Festive fans should aim for the Gingerbread or Double Truffle varieties––each in Christmassy packaging––or add some fun ‘wild card’ flavours to the mix with Maple Bacon or Salted Caramel. Snap them up quickly, though, before we come back and buy them all!


5. Indigenous Jewellery...

There’s a kaleidoscopic array of Indigenous-designed earrings, pendants and bracelets at several different price points in the Cannery store. But we particularly admire these exquisite hand-carved sterling silver salmon by Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw First Nation artist Vincent Henson. Salmon is seen as the giver of life and these shimmering earrings are so vibrant they look as though they might swim away at any moment!

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6. The Twelve Days of Christmas Under the Sea...

Kids are well-served in this store––the wall of plush critters is always popular––but we particularly like the carefully-chosen array of junior books. Our favourite is this enchanting marine-themed adaptation of the well-known Christmas song. Written and wonderfully illustrated by Steveston author Daniel Camp, this version includes three dragonfish dancing, nine narwhals jousting, and, of course, a starfish in a coral tree. It’s impossible not to smile while turning the pages of this one!


7. Steveston Packers Apparel

Many Richmond locals still recall their days at long-gone Steveston High––and especially the school’s over-achieving Steveston Packers basketball teams from the early 1960s. Echoing the era when this was a gritty seafaring community, the team’s tough-as-boat-nails logo was a fishing vessel that resembled a ferociously toothy shark chomping on a huge cigar while ploughing through the waves. A legendary piece of B.C. folk art, you can buy it on a cool T-shirt or hoody here.


8. Artistic Tea Towels...

The kind of kitchen linens that make you reluctant to do the dishes with them, these colourful, made-in-Canada creations are from Rain Goose Textiles. The company has a wide array of designs but, in keeping with its theme, the Cannery has focused on those with a rustic fishy feel. We have a novel suggestion for these tea towels: instead of using them for dishes, why not snag some ribbon and deploy them as sheets of reusable ‘wrapping paper’ for your Christmas pressies?


9. Kanata Throws...

Giving a blanket as a winter gift is always a good idea. And Richmond-based Kanata is the company to go for. Their super-soft fleecy creations feel decadently luxurious––which means you’ll likely stay on the couch with one far longer than you had planned. The designs on display at the Cannery store focus on striking Indigenous art: we especially love Returning of the Salmon, created by acclaimed Musqueam artist and weaver Debra Sparrow.


10. Vintage Salmon Label Mugs...

If you still have room in those stockings, add one of these vivaciously decorated mugs. Showcasing yesteryear canned salmon labels, they’re a reminder of the exotic iconography once deployed to sell products from ‘the colonies’ to Brits who were more used to grey skies than blue oceans teeming with glistening fish. And it’s the perfect accompaniment to a couple of those hot chocolate sachets!

If you go:

The gift shop at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site opens during regular museum hours––currently 10am to 5pm daily. Keep in mind that if you buy a museum membership, you’ll also receive a 20 percent discount on store purchases. The Steveston Festival of Trees runs at the museum from December 1 to 24; click on the link below for festival information and to access the wider Cannery website.