Today is Canada Day: a national holiday in Canada celebrating the union of various colonies into a single dominion. Canadians across the country celebrate in various forms: concerts, BBQs, fireworks and hanging out with friends and family.
Modern Canada owes a lot to Scotland: Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A Macdonald was actually born in Glasgow (sadly what is thought to be his birthplace was torn down in September 2017 - although be sure to check out this 1967 clip of Sir John A's Great-Grandson returning to Glasgow to see his Great-Grandfather's birthplace ending up in a pub, of course) and many Scots contributed to the very foundations of Canada such as the railway, education, and banking. Scots also played an integral role in the discovery of the North West Passage and success of the Hudson's Bay Company. Today 4.8 million Canadians (about 15% of the population) claim to be of Scottish descent (including me!)
Nowadays it's gone full circle and many Canadians are heading back to the Motherland, so to speak, be it for work and/or adventure. It's always funny to think that both my Great-Grandfather and Grandmother left Scotland and Wales respectively in the hopes of a better life, only to have their descendants return a few generations later. When my Grandmother left Cardiff as a war bride in 1948, I'm not sure she ever saw her parents again. Nowadays, of course, the world is a vastly different place and people can move more easily between nations and continents. Moving abroad, even if temporarily, is hugely inspirational as well as challenging. I honestly believe it can make the world a truly better place; without the thousands of Scots emigrating to Canada, where would we be?
And so, here's a list of some of the Canadian businesses here in the UK:
- Claire Henry Ceramics: small batch wheel thrown ceramics. Originally from the West Coast of Canada, Claire now works out of Glasgow. She's stocked in various places around Scotland and made the ceramics for Short Long Black Coffee in Govanhill.
- Tim Hortons: look, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to great coffee in Scotland with loads of great independent cafes. Looking out my studio window, for example, I can spot Southside Roasters (who do great coffee) but you know, sometimes you just want a mediocre filter coffee with CREAM and that's where Timmy Hos is great. Also partial to the odd Timbit. That said, please support local small businesses but no judgement here if you crave the occasional Tim Hortons too!
- Pure Maple: a small British-Canadian family business specialising it what else? Maple syrup. Although lighter grades of maple seem to be popular, my personal favourite is the dark amber with an almost smoky caramel flavour. Ooft!
- Nanaimo Bars: The Original: sure, you could make your own (I like adding whisky to the custard layer) but if you simply want to try this insanely sweet and insanely delicious Canadian tray bake, then check them out. Taking their name from the city they were invented in, Nanaimo Bars are formed from a chocolate coconut cookie base, custard layer and then finished with dark chocolate. DANG!
- The Canadian Cottage - homemade Canadian bakes such as butter tarts (a Canadian staple!), maple fudge, nanaimo bars, maple cookies and much more.
- The Blue Caribou Canteen - hands down the best poutine I have had in the UK. They now have a permanent base in Arndale Market, Manchester, but still pop up around the country. When I tried them in Glasgow, they were at the Big Feed and I nearly cried tears of joy. Don't miss out.
- Bross Bagels - the ONLY bagels I will eat in the UK (unless I make my own using this recipe). Bross Bagels now have 3 locations - 2 in Edinburgh and 1 in Portobello - and are that good, Grace Dent waxed poetic about their chewy goodness in the Guardian. And Grace is rarely wrong.
- Down the Hatch Cafe - a Canadian diner in South Queensferry and although I haven't been personally, other Canadians verify that it is very good. With a Canadian running the ship, so to speak, you know you're in good hands.
- Second Cup - with a few outlets in England, Second Cup is kinda like Tim Hortons' slightly upscale cousin with fancier lattes. Definitely worth checking out.
Do you know any other Canadian businesses based in the UK? We love to support fellow Canadian-British businesses so let us know!
So where ever you are and whatever you're doing, have a happy Canada Day!