THE PORTOBELLO LODGE NO.226

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Other advantages of shopping in your country: No worries about breakage, warranties, border hassles, paying duty or other taxes when you exceed customs allowances, or being stuck with items that prove unsatisfactory and can't be easily returned.

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Whyte Avenue in the city's Old Strathcona neighbourhood. A protected historical area, this is the go to place for one off boutiques and locally made crafts.

Ontario's city of neighbourhoods Nike Air Vapormax Trainers is also a city of shopping neighbourhoods. Here are a few:

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Foodies will like bistro cafes/fine food emporiums such as Marche de Vieux and Canadian Maple Delights for locally made organic maple syrup, Quebec foie gras and tapanades. For artisan boutiques and artists' studios, head to Saint Paul Street or Marche Bonsecours, a beautiful heritage building that showcases work by Quebec artists.

Once known as the "mink mile," Bloor Yorkville is the place to "go for the Gucci," plus the Chanel, Dolce Gabbana, Hermes, Tiffany and more. Upscale Canadian retailers (Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen, Stollery's and William Ashley China) can be found here too.

Mont Royal: Around Laurier Avenue West/Bernard Street, look for beautiful home furnishings, imported and Quebec fashions, childrens' wear, gourmet shops, and Boutique Royer, where 100 local artists sell their original glass, jewelry, wood and ceramic creations. Tony Mont Royal Avenue is the place to go for one of a kind designer boutiques.

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Canada has some of the best shopping anywhere (too much to outline in one newspaper article) but three cities in particular, Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton, are interesting destinations for a shopping getaway.

As a frequent traveller, I have shopped in markets, malls and duty free stores across the world. So I can say with certainty that much of the merchandise sold globally is also available in our own backyard. And with the exception of local specialties usually at competitive prices.

So this holiday season, grab your significant other, parent, pal or sibling and try the following:

Downtown (shopping centres, Saint Catherine Street West and the Underground Pedestrian Network): Head to the city's commercial heart for designer boutiques such as MO851 (a Montreal brand known for its leather goods that is expanded into other cities), mainstream department stores and above and below ground shopping centres (the Eaton Centre, Place Montreal Trust, Les Cours Mont Royal, Complex Les Ailes, Promenade Cathedrale and Place Ville Marie, where the city's 33 km of subterranean connecting passageways began in 1962).

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Winery, Peller Estates, Pillitteri Estates and Vineland Estates. Then take a small detour to Niagara Falls for discount shopping at Canada One Factory Outlets, where you will find stores such as Nike, Coach, Surplus Diesel, Roots and Tommy Hilfiger, and swing by Niagara on the Lake to browse in Adidas Fleece Pants Men's

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A woman I know once lugged a tagine a heavy earthenware cooking vessel home from Morocco, only to spot the exact item in a cookery shop near her house. The savings? Less than $20. Worth the aggravation? Probably not.

Where to start? Soak up the ambiance of Europa Boulevard, home to tony designer boutiques such as Burberry, Versace, Prada, Hugo Boss, Ted Baker, Michael Kors, and popular brands like Ed Hardy, Diesel, True Religion, Adidas Jackets Pink

Downtown, Yonge Street and the Eaton Centre: With more than 600 retailers, this is the city's prime destination for brand names, boutiques and bargains at major fashion, accessory, jewelry and electronic chains and department stores such as The Bay, Sears and Canadian Tire.

Lacoste and more. New at WEM is 7 For All Mankind, the California jeans brand popular with celebrities, and Amsterdam based fashion brand Scotch Soda.

´╗┐country shopping

While global retailing is largely dominated by international brands, Quebecers buck the trend with their European like appreciation for artisan goods over those that are mass produced.

the boutiques, antique shops and fine food shops housed in old timey buildings.

Plan a side trip along the Niagara Wine Route to stock up on wine for your holiday celebrations and as gifts for friends and family. The area is home to more than 70 wineries, including boutique, organic Adidas Hoodie New

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Old Montreal and the Old Port: Historic buildings, cobblestone lanes and quaint boutiques will set the right tone for holiday shopping while Noel Eternel, a year round Christmas shop, will put you in a festive mood.

Downtown, where shoppers will find 450 shops and department stores linked by 13 km of climate controlled pedways (an idea whose time has definitely come in Canada). These include the Edmonton City Centre, Commerce Place and Manulife Place.

This is big sky (and big mall) country. The biggest of these (and the biggest in the world) is West Edmonton Mall. It's a destination in its own right. And with more than 800 stores, 100 restaurants, attractions such as amusement and water parks, mini golf courses, an NHL size skating rink, a casino and more, you can't "do" WEM in a day. Heck, you might not be able to do it in a week, which may explain why there are two hotels (the Fantasyland Hotel and the West Edmonton Mall Inn).

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and celebrity run establishments (Wayne Gretzky Estates, Dan Aykroyd Wines, Mike Weir Wines), where you can sample and buy Ontario's best vintages. Good bets: Coyote's Run Estate Winery, Flat Rock Cellars, Featherstone Estate Winery, Fielding Estate Winery, Good Earth Winery, Hillebrand Winery, Konzelmann Estate

North America's largest open air shopping centre.

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While the big boys like Chapters and Starbucks moved into this eclectic neighbourhood a while ago, Queen West is still home to funky street level shopping at creatively named one off boutiques and chains with a youthful vibe such as Clik Klak, Decibel, Fashion Crimes, John Fluevog Shoes, Hells Bells, Lavish Squalor, Peach Berserk, Pull, and So Hip It Hurts, to name a few, and Queen West originals like the Silver Snail, Steve's Music and Black Market Vintage Clothes.

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