Give Thanks

Vintage fork with hand-hammered message (above) by Wooden Hive.

My business contacts in the US are always surprised when I tell them that my office will be closed at the beginning of October in observance of Thanksgiving. “There’s a *Canadian* Thanksgiving?” they inevitably ask. Why, yes. Yes, there is.

Fall wreath with upcycled tin-can flowers (above) by Custom Created.

Thanksgiving north of the border differs a little from the holiday celebrated by our American friends, but along with the name, there are some traditions that we both share. The similarities include football, family and a propensity towards incredibly cute home and table decorations, as seen throughout this article. You won’t find any pilgrims up here, though; our holiday is an autumn festival to mark the end of the crop season and give thanks for the bountiful harvest.

Handpainted, upcycled record bowl (above) by Eye Pop Art.

While our native peoples have been giving thanks to the land for countless generations before our arrival, the anglo history of Canadian Thanksgiving is a little sketchy in places. The first accounts date back to 1578; when a European explorer held a ceremony to give thanks for surviving a long ocean journey (sound familiar?). In 1872, Thanksgiving was observed in Canada as a civic holiday; however, the date and theme was changed from year to year. Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the second Monday of October, since the passing of an act of Parliament in 1959.

Rustic cutting board/serving platter (above) made from sustainable black walnut by Grey Works Design .

As far as the food is concerned, the Canadian Thanksgiving feast is made up of many of the same foods as the American. Turkey is the traditional main course, although I have seen a few hams hit the table in my time. The roasted bird is, of course, accompanied by sage-spiked stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. Usual side dishes are mashed potatoes, veggies, squash dishes, breads and salads.

Pumpkin made from vintage 1970s fabric (above) by Whoopsie Daisies

Visitors from the US sitting down at a Thanksgiving feast in Canada will probably notice one glaring omission – in 38 years of giving thanks, I have never had to “pass along” a casserole of cloyingly sweet, marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes. It’s not that we have anything against sweets; we’re just leaving room for pumpkin pie!

Pinecone and wire turkey place card holders (above) by Carrieveau Craft.

I shouldn’t diss the sweet potato casserole, though. I’m sure that Americans need all the energy they can get for Black Friday; an event that, to a casual observer, almost seems to trump Thanksgiving itself in the US. We do not have an equivalent to Black Friday up here, unless you count December 26th (aka Boxing Day), and usually spend the long weekend raking leaves and napping. Oh, the glory of tryptophan!

Cotton/wool acorns with real acorn “hats” (above) by Rose Cottage Boutique 2.

So, there. That’s Canadian Thanksgiving in a nutshell. I would love to hear from readers on both sides of the border – what are you thankful for?

Amy Echo Clothing

Kisha the designer behind Amy Echo [previously featured here] has been sewing for the last 25 years. Working hard to perfect her craft, she’s read copious amounts of sewing books, endured super cheesy sewing shows on tv and learned through trial and error. The benefits of her hard work are evident in her line of clothing.

Kisha gives great credit to her family for helping her get her start selling her handmade clothing. Her mother, was as Kisha says “hoodwinked” into being the photographer. She had never taken professional pictures before being persuaded by her loving daughter to be the woman behind the camera. Her lovely sister was roped into being her model, bringing her clothing to life. And even the dog is credited for sitting through hours of photo shoots modeling in picture after picture and without complaint.

I got my start in handmade when I was five years old. I wanted more doll clothes and I already had a lot of clothing to choose from. My mother, being the creative person that she is, gave me some old clothes and taught me how to thread a needle, create a running stitch, and how to use scissors while cutting fabric. At first the doll clothes would only last through one play session, but after a few attempts, they started be become more creative than what one could find in a store. I just stuck with sewing because I really loved doing it and over the years I started sewing my own clothing.

My favorite item in my shop is the Muffin Top Hat because my sister, who is the model, looks so pretty in that hat. She makes it look so stunning. I of course have a Muffin Top Hat and I wear it everywhere and whenever I can!

Kisha begins by drawing her designs out on butcher paper, then sews up a prototype and tweaks it until it’s ready. As more and more people started asking where she purchased the clothing she had created, Kisha started taking custom orders and eventually started her own shop in January. Her designs are simple and versatile, making it easy to dress them up or down with accessories. And each item is not only flattering, but well made to last for a long time. So check out her shop and help her keep her momentum rolling.

A Handmade Life


A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity
“William Coperthwaite is a teacher, builder, designer, and writer who for many years has explored the possibilities of true simplicity on a homestead on the north coast of Maine. In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and Helen and Scott Nearing, Coperthwaite has fashioned a livelihood of integrity and completeness-buying almost nothing, providing for his own needs, and serving as a guide and companion to hundreds of apprentices drawn to his unique way of being.

A Handmade Life carries Coperthwaite’s ongoing experiments with hand tools, hand-grown and gathered food, and handmade shelter, clothing, and furnishings out into the world to challenge and inspire. His writing is both philosophical and practical, exploring themes of beauty, work, education, and design while giving instruction on the hand-crafting of the necessities of life. Richly illustrated with luminous color photographs by Peter Forbes, the book is a moving and inspirational testament to a new practice of old ways of life.” → more info

Jane Bonbon

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I’m a full-time vancouver plus size fashion designer, though I do seem to be making more and more things for smaller girls too lately ! Currently, my clothes (sizes 4-22) sell at Planet Claire in vancouver (212 Abbott st. in gastown) Each piece is handmade by me! <3 Jane Bonbon

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