What To Buy In Yellowknife, Canada

what to buy in yellowknife
Contributing Writer
| 5 min read

As the capital (and indeed only) city of the Northwest Territories in Canada, Yellowknife is a destination that offers visitors the chance to experience an off-the-beaten-track holiday that puts you in the heart of some astounding scenery. It’s not a break that offers sun and sand but it more than makes up for that with the opportunities to see things you don’t get to see everywhere else. This includes, if you are visiting at the right time of year, perhaps the best view of the Aurora Borealis you’ll find anywhere in the world. Visitors who show up from mid-August to late September, or any time between November and early April, can view the Northern Lights at their best. For sure, you’ll want to bring home a souvenir or two of this stunning part of the world so check out our list of what to buy in Yellowknife, Canada for some ideas.

1. Inuit prints and lithographs

The importance of the Inuit people to the Northern Territory is undeniable, and the influence of the native culture can be seen wherever you go in the city. The Northern Heritage Centre is a great place to stop by and learn a little more about the people who first settled this area and experience something of their way of life, while indulging in Inuit cuisine, history, and the evocative art that has been created by the native people who still play a full part in the day-to-day life of Yellowknife. You may also visit local galleries such as Northern Imagesand pick up a few Inuit art prints to take home with you.

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2. Northern-themed glasses and vases

Conservation is a key driving force for the people of Yellowknife and everywhere you go you will find sustainability to be a priority for the city. One example of this thirst for preservation can be found in Old Town Glassworks, a co-operative business that takes used drinks bottles and recycles them in the form of beautiful art. The unique glassware you will find in this old Yellowknife institution will make a conversation piece in any home, and add character as well as an important contribution to ecology.

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3. Locally designed hoodies

Yellowknife has what one might call an idiosyncratic climate. In the summer, there are occasional days where the mercury can get above 30 degrees Celsius (86+ Fahrenheit). In winter, it barely gets above freezing and snow is an almost constant presence. You’ll need to wrap up warm for most of the year, and as well as a healthy trade in padded shirts and heavy coats, the local clothing stores offer a pleasing range of hoodies - including plenty of locally designed and themed hoodies such as those on offer from Erasmus Apparel. They’re not just handy to have in Yellowknife - you can wear them or gift them once you’re home, too.

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4. Musk-ox-horn and bison-horn jewellery

The musk ox and bison that are native to the Northern Territory are hardy beasts; they need to be, in order to survive the cold winters and heavy snows. This means that their horns need to be made of tough stuff - and when shed, those horns offer a natural material which is both tough and lightweight - perfect properties to make it an ideal material for impressive jewellery such as that perfected by local artist Jamie Look. You’ll find her creations at a number of artisanal shops around the city.

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5. Leather goods

As a result of the high quantity of oxen and bison in the region, Yellowknife is also a centre for high-quality leather products; from wallets to jackets, there is plenty to be found within the city including at stores like the Arctic Canada Trading Company on Franklin Avenue. Experts in creating world-class Native leather products, you’re sure to find worthwhile souvenirs to suit all budgets, and help the local industry of Yellowknife while you’re doing it.

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6. Carvings

Among the many art forms you’ll find around the city of Yellowknife, the traditional Inuit carvings made from wood, sandstone, and a range of other materials are one of the most cherished. Frequently depicting wildlife scenes and individual animals, the carvings make for perfect ornaments and make for an ideal keepsake of your holiday, as well as being excellent ideas for a gift for any of your friends back home.

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7. Paintings

Being an area of transcendent natural beauty, Yellowknife is always going to be an inspiration to artists who live in the area and those who spend a little time here. You’ll find no shortage of museums and galleries that offer a chance to view some of the ways that the city has been immortalised on canvas - galleries such as the Aurora Emporium and Northern Images have wide and varied collections, as well as gift shops where you can buy prints of the great art created by Yellowknife artists.

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8. Postcards

When it comes to showing the people back home the beauty of Yellowknife, there are few better ways than to send a postcard of the stunning scenery you’ll see. The city is home to a number of print studios, including Canarctic Graphics that create prints depicting Yellowknife in all its glory, and turn those prints into postcards for you to send home - or just to bring back with you and pin up around the house.

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9. Soapstone sculpture

The art of soapstone carving is an Inuit speciality which you will see everywhere you visit around Yellowknife. Commonly, these pieces of art will depict aspects of local nature, with sculptures of seals and other regional wildlife particularly popular. Experts in the trade include the local studio Frozen Rock, whose works have proven so popular that they have been called upon to offer public workshops.

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10. Maple syrup cookies

What trip to any new place would be complete without discovering a regional foodstuff that you just can’t get enough of and want to bring home to share with your friends and family? On a trip to Yellowknife, your travels should certainly take you to Northern Souvenirs and Gifts, where you will find boxes of the eternally popular maple syrup cookies which are sold and consumed in great numbers throughout Canada. Flavoured with syrup, filled with gooey cream and baked in the shape of the famous maple leaf, they’re an ideal souvenir of your holiday.

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Pick the perfect Yellowknife souvenirs to preserve your idyllic memories

A hillside view of Yellowknife as darkness falls
Source: Pixabay

If your idea of a perfect holiday is the chance to rest in perfect serenity, then Yellowknife has what you need - but if you want to get out and about and really experience a new place, it’s got you covered, too. Picking a few items from the list above will allow you to preserve your memories of a holiday which, if you get it right, will give you insights into the city’s native culture as well as an unbeatable range of activities.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Antonia Kelly is a freelance writer based in Leicester, UK and she enjoys European travel as well as road trips closer to home. Her favourite domestic destinations include Snowdonia and the Brecon...Read more

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