The quintessential elegant Quebec department store Simons began life as a small family business back in 1840. At that time, to stock his store with unique finds, owner John Simons had to make over 70 Transatlantic crossings, picking up the most sought-after European fashions and textiles.
In 1870, the shop expanded to 20 Côte De La Fabrique, in Old Quebec, where that street name over a century later has inspired a collaborative project: Fabrique1840. This line of artisan Canadian products showcases the very finest artists, makers and creators across the country exclusively available online.
Proceeds from purchases from their rather phenomenal showcase of talent from Canadian craftspeople help support homegrown arts and crafts. Official merchandise in this line, featuring 117 makers, comes with the Signé Métiers d’ArtTM seal attesting to its quality and that it was made right here in Canada.
Cécile Branco, the director of Fabrique1840, sees this as a partnership and an exciting collaboration: ”Our objective is to support our ever-growing artisanal communities across the country to ensure the survival of local creativity. Making our e-commerce visibility and services available to makers is our way of creating an economy of scale that will boost the success they deserve for their craftsmanship.”
Although Simons has branches all across the belle province of Quebec and select cities in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, you can experience Fabrique1840 from the comfort of home, as all products are only available online. You can also shop at the Virtual Market, a collaboration with Le Conseil des Métiers d’art du Québec, until October 18, to pick up some beautiful and bespoke gifts in time for the holidays.
These are our top picks for the finest Canadian artisan jewellery, textiles, furniture, fashion, and more available through the Fabrique1840 line at Simons.
Janie Belcourt creates true one-of-a-kind pieces, repurposing skateboards to become a spot to sit or swing! Her colourful creations, available from $115, are so playful, adding a touch of whimsy to any space. Using existing materials in different and new ways helps to support Fabrique1840’s mission of sustainable, eco-friendly design.
Montrealer Roxane Charest creates warm and inviting ceramic pieces that encourage you to sit down and commune with friends and family. Set your table with her free form stoneware plates available in dark brown, gray or pink (starting at $30) and each handcrafted piece will be sure to spark conversation!
Pick up an oh-so-cute and cuddly tuque from Saguenay, Quebec, handcrafted by Hélène Fortin through her label Les Tricots et Laine, for everyone on your gift list. These beautiful and unique hats are made from a blend of alpaca and sheep’s wool and feature braided bands and faux fur pompoms. They come in neutrals of black, gray or white, or why not go for a pop of bright bold colour and choose the teal or pink options? All are priced at $65.
Invest in a piece of Canadian luxury with a handcrafted leather bag from Joanne Tenold of UncaLux in Montreal. The Nelson bag ($375) retains simplicity with its clean and compact design yet can still accommodate a laptop. Wear it cross-body, slung over your shoulder or remove the strap to hold it as a clutch. This beautiful and versatile bag comes in burnt orange or khaki.
Chad and Teri-Lynn Friesen from Winnipeg, Manitoba, experiment to create syrups, bitters and concentrates for you to get creative at cocktail hour. Show your guests your mixology skills with their Luckygirl Cocktail Kit ($45), a collection of three products including simple syrup, lavender bitters and lemon-lime shrub, as well as a handy recipe card.
Felix Böck, based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, uses upcycled chopsticks to create fresh and modern home designs. His carbon-negative products include wall decor grids made up of hexagonal shapes, tables, chopping and cheese boards. He even makes games, like a set of balancing and building blocks ($54), which were made from 1425 collected chopsticks!
Laura Whitaker, based out of Toronto, Ontario, makes small-batch natural care products using many fresh organic ingredients like rosehip and hemp seed oil. Try the Buff face and body scrub ($20), which has a lovely minty scent and leaves you with fresh, soft skin.
Toronto-based founder and maker of Cadette Jewellery Allison Asis crafts beautiful, wearable works of art. Each piece, whether earrings, necklaces or rings, is individually made and therefore unique. Starting at $100, these modern trinkets make the perfect gift!
Decorate your walls with paddles (starting at $75) from Wendake, Quebec, made by an Indigenous Wendat mother and daughter team, and inspired by aboriginal design and tradition. Their paddles, which can be used practically on the water, are so eye-catching that leaning against the wall or mounted they become a standout piece in any room.
Cindy Labrecque is a multidisciplinary artist with interests in ceramics, videography, engraving, painting, and photography. For Fabrique1840, she creates the cutest animal mugs (starting at $32), hand thrown in Quebec City, featuring raccoons, foxes and birds. She also makes a line of sophisticated black glazed mugs, tumblers and toothbrush holders available at Simons.
Kids of all ages will be delighted with a new friend crafted by Montrealer Mathilde Fabry. Choose typical Canadian characters like the fox, raccoon and skunk, or take the little ones in your life on an imaginative adventure further afield by picking a giraffe or a koala bear (starting at $30). Teaching kids all about their dental hygiene? Then pick up a delightfully unusual soft toy puppet of a tooth ($25), which has a convenient space to place lost teeth while you wait for the tooth fairy to visit. Or get really creative with the “Make Your Own Monster Kit” priced at $30.
Chef Peter Burt and his wife and partner Robin Crane make sea salt from one of the best natural resources we have in Canada: the endless saltwater that surrounds their native Newfoundland. For $40, pick up a trio including their original sea salt, a juniper smoked sea salt and a green alder sea salt.
Treat the art lover in your life to a beautifully crafted leather roll-up art kit ($65) from this duo based in Sainte-Adèle, Quebec. It includes 24 coloured pencils and an eraser all ready to create the next masterpiece!
Glassblower Brook Drabot from Warren, Manitoba, has created these beautiful yellow glass reusable straws with sustainability and gorgeous aesthetics in mind. For $20 you’ll receive two handmade nontoxic and nonporous glass straws and a cleaning brush.
Alicia Phillips and Kevin Leboeuf from Fredericton, New Brunswick, offer the best in natural male grooming products, made with high-quality ingredients right here in Canada. Their natural moustache wax ($20) is made with certified natural organic beeswax, coconut oil, and balm resin.
These gold leaf round earrings brighten up any outfit and are a steal for just $26. Diana Garcia, from Montreal, handcrafts her jewellery, planters and coasters with both fun prints and sleek minimalist lines depending on her mood!
Bring vibrant colour and bold geometric shapes into your home with a print from this Quebec city artist. Her Island Art Print, which depicts a coastal scene, is available in two sizes, starting at $40.
Fabrique1840 presents products made with care and attention by skilled artisans. The prices reflect the work and craftsmanship that has gone into every tiny detail. However, there are still some great bargains to be found. Check out these top picks for Canadian-made gifts under $75.
When you buy a lovingly crafted item from the Fabrique1840 line, you’re not only getting your hands on unique and exquisite high-quality products, but you’re also helping to support homegrown Canadian talent.