Opening: Red Canoe brings its Canadiana to Dundas West

Opening: Red Canoe brings its Canadiana to Dundas West

Over the past few years, HBC‘s Olympic mittens and the Drake Hotel General Store have helped raise Canadiana from kitsch to cool. We’re not surprised, then, to find the first retail outlet of Red Canoe on one of Toronto’s coolest strips: Dundas West. Founded eight years ago by Sudbury native Dax Wilkinson, Red Canoe revels in northern Ontario vintage. Though they have been compared to what’s found at Roots, Wilkinson’s designs are more emblematic of old-school Sault Ste. Marie than posh Muskoka cottages. The showroom is decorated with vintage trinkets like military trundles and leather-cased cameras.

Much of the store pays homage to Wilkinson’s aviation fetish (the de Havilland logo, Wilkinson says, is the “Harley-Davidson of Canada”): ’40s and ’50s-era photographs of bush planes; black canvas bomber jackets ($150);  sweaters ($90) and T-shirts ($32.50) featuring the Royal Canadian Air Force insignia. RCAF tartan scarves ($30) can pair with preppy merino wool sweaters ($160) or slate-grey wool blazers ($370) for a dashing Pierre Berton look.

The CBC’s old designs are also popular at Red Canoe, finding their way onto hats ($26), T-shirts, military-style kit bags ($130) and shoulder bags ($40). Shoppers looking for a frilly counterpoint to rugged wear will find beaded moccasins ($250), hand-made by native Canadians in Stony Rapids, Saskatchewan. The smoked moosehide smells more intoxicating than a summer campfire in the woods.

In the spirit of being local, Red Canoe manufactures all of its jackets, T-shirts and scarves in Toronto, elevating this Canadiana above airport souvenir calibre.

Red Canoe, 1356 Dundas St. W. (at Rusholme Dr.), 416-205-1271, Th-F 9-5, or by appointment.

(All photos: Ashley Ryan)