Live more Canadian, spend more money

Let’s talk money. Several people have asked whether or not I’ll be meticulously tracking my dollars spent on Canadiana this year. I don’t think so. I’m already a compulsive life-quantifier, and I don’t have the spare time to track both Canadianess and price.

However, I do occasionally want to check in on the question of dollars and cents, and how much more–for surely it’s more and not less–I need to spend to live my Canadian life.

Here is a sampling of Canadian household goods that I picked up. Not all of these meet the gold standard of sourced in Canada, but these are at least silver medalists (manufactured in Canada). Click to embiggen:

I purchased these products at my friendly, neighbourhood Whole Foods store Choices (whoops). Collectively, they cost $41.76. Here’s the receipt (again, click to bigize):

More than $40 for six ordinary, household consumables. That’s quite pricey, eh? At least I got six cents off by bringing my own bag. Score.

I got to wondering…what would the “normal” versions of these cost at my local Save-on-Foods? I went downstairs (yes, I literally live above Save-on-Foods–I can take the elevator down) to the store and priced out the products that I would normally purchase instead of these wacky Canadian ones. Here’s what I came up with. Prices include any savings I might have enjoyed with my magic Save-on-More card:

  • Speed Stick antiperspirant – $2.25
  • Pears soap – 3 for $3.59, so one bar is $1.19
  • Garnier Fructis shampoo (because my hair gets too much sucrose and glucose) – $4.79
  • Alcan aluminum foil – $4.29
  • Colgate Total toothpaste – $2.99
  • Western Family toilet paper – $8.99

Add tax, and that gives me $27.44, or about 65% of what I paid at Whole Foods.

Man, I am getting hosed. Whose idea was this project?

In fairness, I knew that I’d end up spending more money on Canadian products. Hopefully I discover some that are of a higher quality, and last longer than their foreign equivalents.

Are there any Canadian products that you buy, even though they’re more expensive?



  1. Stacie (Reply) Posted on February 1, 2011

    I buy Nature Clean laundry and cleaning products. I try to stock up when they are on sale. I also buy Natural Factors supplements.

  2. Monica (aka monnibo) (Reply) Posted on February 1, 2011

    I buy Nature’s Path Organic products because they’re good for me. A bonus is that it is a Canadian (Vancouver, in fact) company.

    • In Country with Melissact & Friends (Reply) Posted on February 4, 2011

      Be sure to check the label. They manufacture some in Canada and some in the US!

  3. Carrie (Reply) Posted on February 1, 2011

    I buy Canadian, when it makes sense to me. I buy Skoah skin care (made in Vancouver, and reasonable priced), M0851 clothing (made on Montreal, and insanely over-priced.. but awesome), and we paid an extra 35% to buy a leather sofa made in Canada that we have had to have repaired twice due to cheap materials and faulty workmanship. Most importantly, I buy Brand Name food products, like Kraft, Tropicana and Campbell’s. They are manufactured in Canada in some cases and I can at least source the origins of the products, which is not always the case with President’s Choice, No Name or Western Family. I will pay more, sometimes. But I also cross-border and on-line shop at times, too. It’s all about balance for me. I like to support local, Canadian businesses but I also believe that our hard work and collective household income of $150,000 + should put us over the poverty line.
    ps- I love what you are doing. What do you think about buying second-hand/consignment? It might not be supporting Canadian, but it is also not supporting new production overseas…????

  4. Rehan (Reply) Posted on February 1, 2011

    Some Colgate toothpaste actually is Made in Canada. e.g.: http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/archives/fdaDrugInfo.cfm?archiveid=37792

    For shampoo, you can try Pert Plus. I think Ban deodorant (at least some versions of it) is also Made in Canada.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if that Co-Op aluminum foil is no more/less Canadian than the Alcan brand.

    Green Beaver is more expensive not because it’s Canadian but because they use natural ingredients. Their pricing is about the same as Made in USA counterparts.

  5. Shirley (Reply) Posted on February 1, 2011

    isnt there a london drugs near by too? I believe they sell cascades.not sure about the other stuff but there may or may not be some canadian equivilant ones.

  6. Catherine (Reply) Posted on February 2, 2011

    Just a heads up that lavender and tea tree oil are estrogenic and are linked to gynecomastia (breast growth) in boys: http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa064725

  7. Khrysttena (Reply) Posted on February 2, 2011

    Try finding Majesta or Royal tissue – both are made by Irving (a very Canadian NB run organization) their manufacturing plant is in Dieppe (Moncton) NB.

    Also, there are a lot of east coast companies I’m not sure if the west coast knows about them. Mccain still has huge potato farms in NB and PEI and produces their own fries.

    • Kristine (Reply) Posted on February 2, 2011

      I was just about to suggest Irving products. I am not positive everything is sourced in Canada but Royal is a Canadian brand at the very least. I don’t know if Majesta is sold out west. I didn’t see it until I moved to Halifax.

  8. Catherine, QC (Reply) Posted on February 2, 2011

    The upfront cost to buying Canadian definately tends to be a little pricier… but the investment you’re making in Canada is priceless… Thanks for doing this project!

  9. Meghan (Reply) Posted on February 2, 2011

    With the CSA (Urban Grains) and CSF (Skipper Otto) I participate in I actually get better, fresher product for MUCH less $$, but everything else – laundry detergent, dish soap, even some antiseptic cream I picked up a few days ago are WAY more expensive. (The cream was double the price of a tube of polysporin!!)

    But it’s an investment, right?

  10. FERGZLZ (Reply) Posted on February 2, 2011

    There is a brand of Cosmetics and products for taking care of Skin called FACES Cosmetics. It is all-natural and even though it’s more expensive it tends to last longer and is of a greater quality.

  11. Jen (Reply) Posted on February 2, 2011

    I’ve been using the reasonably priced Buffalo Recycled Laundry Soap which is made from leftover used hotel soaps. It is manufactured in Victoria. You can buy it at some speciality shops and also Thrifty Foods (which delivers!) in Port Moody. His website was down for a long time, and then it seems that someone from Buffalo who recycles metal has picked up the domain. That said, its pretty good laundry soap. The contact is Roger Sevigny and I found a phone number of 250-598-0309

  12. Kerry (Reply) Posted on February 3, 2011

    Nellie’s All Natural laundry detergent…..North Van I believe? Found at London Drugs.

  13. Richard (Reply) Posted on February 3, 2011

    Good luck with the project. I try to buy stuff made here (oz) wherever possible. But I always avoid China at the grocery store. Where are those non Canadian products made.

  14. Brent (Reply) Posted on February 4, 2011

    Uh, that’s a Choices receipt, not Whole Foods.

  15. Natalie B (Reply) Posted on February 4, 2011

    Majestic and royal both Canadian should be available out west, you’ll have to check. Hertel all purpose cleaner is Canadian made (check labels cause some r US made) like I’ve said in a previous post, I’ve been buying made in Canada or US for the past 10+ years. It takes a while to get use to but before you know it, buying Canaidian will become second nature.
    Keep up the great work and let us know what you find. I’m always interested in finding new products.

  16. Zoeyjane (Reply) Posted on February 5, 2011

    Not the point, and not (very) Canadian, but you know, you could have saved at least another 30% off of Save-On’s prices by shopping at Shoppers Drug Mart (which is a Canadian retailer). Eg. I just bought Alcan foil for 89 cents, Royale tissue for $5.99, Herbal Essences for $2.39 and Colgate for 99 cents.

  17. nancy (aka moneycoach) (Reply) Posted on February 5, 2011

    If I get super brave I’ll learn to hunt. So, I guess cost of a gun, a license, and butchering. But first I have to learn to fish.

  18. Sheila Keenan (Reply) Posted on February 8, 2011

    I like Avalon Dairy milk in the glass bottles. Milk tastes better out of glass. But if I switched completely over to Avalon, I’d be spending about three to four times more on milk. So I haven’t switched over completely, but I will buy it sometimes.

  19. Kate (Reply) Posted on February 13, 2011

    You’re not the one getting hosed. The people in other countries that are getting paid slave wages for producing “cheap” products and supplies for the more developed countries are the ones getting hosed! Thanks again for doing this project. The more light that shines on this sad situation, the better!

    • Ryan (Reply) Posted on March 9, 2011

      I agree! We need to shed more light on the fact that our jobs are being sent elsewhere, when we could be employing our own Canadians to make our fine Canadian products.

      The more Canadian products we buy, hopefully, the more this will open the eyes of the fat-cats to actually produce products on our shores… it’s all about getting the word out.

      Just think of all the jobs that have left our country in the name of greed. Wouldn’t it be great to have them back?

      This site is great!

  20. Janet (Reply) Posted on February 19, 2011

    Majesta toilet paper is sold at Home Hardware stores (all stores Canadian owned) At their website you can search for made in Canada products and come up with a number of different things from toilet paper to wood stove fans that are made in Canada.

  21. David Netterville (Reply) Posted on April 2, 2011

    When we first came here from Europe I wanted to buy local and always picked up the Island Farms milk at the grocery store. I usually had to pay an extra dollar for a 4 litre jug compared to the stuff that was driven over in a Safeway truck from Alberta. Now that radioactive iodine has been detected in Washington state and our government folks are so disinterested that they are not even bothering to take mearusments I have decided that I will buy the cheap stuff that comes from the other side of the Rockies.