For your hippie roommate: Ward 14 Consignment Bar (139 Preston St.)
Ward 14 is a Hintonburg mainstay. Although technically a bar, it maintains a unique gimmick that makes it worthy of this list—everything in the building is for sale. Stock rotates over time as items are found and purchased, but they always maintain piles of world-class and eclectic vintage kitsch. Old film equipment, cuckoo clocks, lawn gnomes, reclaimed art, and hunting trophies adorn every wall. Give yourself a few hours and enjoy some of their in-house beer to guarantee you find the perfectly quirky gift.
For the well-organized and the budding writer: The Papery (850 Bank St.)
Located in the Glebe, The Papery maintains a wide range of high-quality stationery, pens, pencils, and organisational items. Every paper product imaginable, from greeting cards and origami paper to high-end printer paper fills the shop. In addition to its namesake products, the store’s array of journals, notebooks, and pens is expansive enough to make the most obsessive of chronic organisers blush. Looking more like a store out of Harry Potter than something from the 21st century, The Papery is a surefire shop to find something both quaint and practical.
For the history or geography buff: World of Maps (1191 Wellington St. W)
World of Maps provides precisely what the sign says—a mind-boggling array of maps and globes crammed into a little shop on Wellington. Modern maps for air travel, aeronautics, geographic surveying, and backwoods camping make up only a small part of their stock. Historical charts from the Age of Exploration sit next to political maps of the Cold War and a collection of artistic globes. The store also maintains a large stock of flags and patches for hundreds of countries and regions—the perfect gift for any world traveller or geography major.
For literally any human being: Suzy Q Doughnuts (969 Wellington St. W)
An Ottawa staple, Suzy Q undisputably provides the best doughnuts in the city. If you need a last minute dessert for the family get-together then it’s likely impossible you’ll find a better option. The diverse flavours include traditional chocolate, vanilla, and caramel, alongside matcha, lemon, maple bacon, and cinnamon. Besides tasting fantastic, Suzy Q remains affordable and is an excellent option for anyone with a big family and a student budget.
For the bookworm: Black Squirrel Books (1073 Bank St.) / All Books (327 Rideau St.)
Both these stores are cornerstones of the used book market in Ottawa. Black Squirrel and All Books have a variety too wide to list here—in short, they stray away from the newest novels of somewhere like Chapter’s, in favour of classic literature, philosophy, social sciences, poetry, and rare books, often in first editions. Black Squirrel is also a great place to take a break between your otherwise-hectic shopping—in addition to fine literature, the store has a wide offering of specialty coffees and other drinks.
If you can’t get down to Old Ottawa South, All Books is a lot closer to campus, and has just as large of a selection.
For the foodie: Ma Cuisine (269 Dalhousie St.)
A gift from Ma Cuisine is a blessing for any foodie. The store has everything you need for a kitchen short of the oven and sink. A stop at Ma Cuisine could outfit your bar, complete your spice rack, unclutter your kitchen, or get you some new recipe books. As the name suggests, the entire store—and it isn’t small—is built around the kitchen. As students, we’re inclined to seeing ramen as haute cuisine, but a trip to Ma Cuisine will quickly turn anyone into a master chef (or bartender, for that matter).
For the person who loves to keep it local: Goods (201 Dalhousie St.)
Goods has been at its location on Dalhousie for three years now, and it’s a master of keeping it local. The store is eclectic, offering teas, facial scrubs, soaps, bitters, ceramics, pins, and prints, mostly sourced from Ontario and Quebec, and with a particular focus on the Ottawa region. There aren’t many places that are as committed to keeping it local as Goods. For students, some of their products can run a little pricey or seem unnecessary (most of us probably wouldn’t know what to do with an $18 bottle of bitters), but they have a wide variety of prints, ranging from maps of Ottawa to modern art that will make any room look sophisticated. Decorate like a prof on a student’s budget—that’s what Goods is, well, good for.
For the proud Gee-Gee, or the proud parents of a Gee-Gee; or for the last-minute shopper: the University of Ottawa Bookstore
When I asked my roommate in first year why he came to the University of Ottawa, he replied, “Cause I’m a Gee-Gee.” There are people like that, and those people would not be hurt if you bought them a gift from the campus bookstore.
But the real beauty of the bookstore lies in gifts for your parents. Your parents are proud of you for going to university (even if you’re studying English—trust me, I know), but putting you through university is also a sign that they raised you well, and they want everyone to know that they are good parents. The bookstore is a one-stop shop—there are enough hoodies, sweatpants, pajama bottoms, t-shirts, polos, jackets, and hats to please any proud parent.
The bookstore is also a great place for last-minute shopping, replete with everything from the latest novels to office supplies. Does your pal need office supplies? Yeah, probably. The bookstore has you covered.