Starting from its floor and continuing almost to the top of its high wooden ceiling, The Totem Pole is a treasure trove of traditional Canadian arts and crafts for sale.
Owned and operated by Danielle and Mike Simms-Dowding, we visited the highly visible landmark gift shop at 1340 Great Northern Road on Canada Day to chat with friendly store assistants Lynda Tuckett and Alison Ozga and delivered two SooToday mugs.
“It’s a great place to work because when people come here they’re on vacation, they’re extremely happy. They’re ecstatic,” Lynda said.
There’s always something in the shop to catch your eye, said Lynda and Alison, who have an excellent knowledge of the stories behind The Totem Pole’s merchandise.
The must-see store dates back to 1987.
The Totem Pole sells Canadian-themed lollipops, chocolate and (of course) maple syrup, stuffed animals (moose, beavers and bears), jewellery, T-shirts, high quality wool sweaters, leather jackets, fur hats, purses and wallets, wind chimes, photography and pottery by Echo Bay artist Jack Dunning, greeting cards, and a wealth of Indigenous goods such as moccasins (a big seller), dolls, mittens and carvings.
If you look up, way up, you’ll see an impressive muskox head and muskox wool rug if you want to give a truly rugged outdoors look to your home.
Many tourists have enjoyed the store, mainly Canadians and Americans, but Lynda and Alison added fascinated European hockey players dropped in to buy souvenirs when the Sault hosted the 2012 CARHA Hockey World Cup tournament.
The Totem Pole is currently open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week throughout the busy summer months, and, unlike many gift shops of its kind, is not a seasonal business, keeping its doors open all year.