A patriot’s guide to shopping during a Canada-U.S. trade war

Upset about Trump’s tariffs and Uncle Sam dragging its trusted allies into a trade war? Here’s how you can hit back at the U.S. with your wallet.
French’s ketchup sits next to Heinz ketchup on a grocery store shelf in Leamington, Ontario, Canada on September 15, 2017. (Photograph by Dennis Pajot)

Originally published June 12. Latest update: July 23

Behind the patriot’s guide to shopping: Tom Yun on The Big Story

In light of the widening trade war between Canada and the United States—and Donald Trump’s broadsides against this country’s political leadership—we’ve compiled a list of products you can support at the expense of their American counterparts. In some cases, you’ll be ramping up pressure in key U.S. political constituencies by foregoing products on Canada’s tariff list. In others, you’ll be boosting Canadian-based operations whose supply networks span the border, reminding Americans which country imports more of their goods and services than any other. After all, nothing fuels Canadian patriotism quite like consumerism and brands (just ask a certain chain of coffee shops).

READ MORE: How Canadians can boycott Donald Trump


Heinz, the global leader in tomato ketchup, drew the ire of Canadians in 2014 when it moved its operations from Leamington, Ont., to Fremont, Ohio. And thanks to the new tariffs, you’re going to pay more for your catsup if you get it from Heinz. Hundreds of jobs in Leamington were saved after French’s announced that it would source its tomatoes from the “tomato capital of Canada.” Despite being an American company, French’s managed to become a darling of Canadian patriots. When Loblaws announced it wouldn’t stock French’s ketchup, a Liberal MPP-led campaign to boycott the supermarket ensued, forcing the chain to relent and restock the ketchup.

French’s ketchup sits next to Heinz ketchup on a grocery store shelf in Leamington, Ont. (Photograph by Dennis Pajot)

READ: Why French’s ketchup is here to stay (sorry, Heinz)


The Trudeau government has also chosen to tariff American-made whisky. This includes bourbon from Kentucky, the home state of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But fear not, for Canada has a rich history as a whisky maker since the rum-running days of the Prohibition era. Put down the Jim Beam and try J.P. Wiser’s Deluxe, a rye distilled in Windsor, Ont. The brand is owned by Corby Spirit and Wine, a Canadian firm listed on the TSX. And don’t forget Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye. The distiller might be owned by a British multinational, but the whisky’s made in Gimli, Man., and was named 2015’s best whisky in the world.

READ MORE: Thanks to a years-long revolution, Canadian whisky might be better than it’s ever been


Orange juice

The tariffs also affect Florida, known for being an orange juice producer and a volatile swing state. But with Minute Maid manufactured in Peterborough, Ont., you can get your OJ domestically and stick it to the sunshine state. Expect to see more products coming from the Peterborough beverage plant—its owner, the definitively American Coca-Cola Company, just announced an $85-million investment in the facility.


Chocolate, licorice candy and other sugar confectionary are also on the tariff list. It’s another cleverly aimed levy, this time directed at the swing state of Pennsylvania. The state is home to the Hershey factory, famous for its chocolate products as well as Twizzlers licorice. Kissing Twizzlers goodbye won’t be easy. But when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, your local options are plenty. Nestlé makes its Coffee Crisp, KitKat and Smarties products in Toronto, while Mars produces Maltesers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers and Mars Bars in nearby Newmarket. Ferrero also has a facility in Brantford, Ont., where it produces Tic Tacs, Ferrero Rocher and Kinder Surprise (which are still banned in the U.S.). But for confectionary from Canadian-owned chocolatiers, look to Purdys from Vancouver, Ganong Bros. from St. Stephen, N.B., and Laura Secord of Mississauga, Ont.; the latter makes its chocolates in Quebec and is named after the Canadian heroine who walked 32 km to warn British troops of an impending American attack during the War of 1812.

READ: 10 popular chocolate bars sold in Canada that are next to impossible to find in the U.S.

Toilet paper

It’s another tariff targeted at Pennsylvania. Kimberly-Clark operates a paper mill in Chester, Pa., producing Scott toilet paper. Charmin toilet paper also comes from the Keystone state, as Procter & Gamble has a plant in the town of Mehoopany. Thankfully, these aren’t your only options. Cascades, a Quebec-based tissue paper manufacturer, has several plants in La Belle Province as well as in the Greater Toronto Area. In addition, Kruger Products has plants in Quebec, B.C. and Ontario that manufacture Purex, Scotties and Cashmere.

RELATED: How Canada should react to Donald Trump’s G7 tantrum


Republican Speaker Paul Ryan is likely unhappy with this tariff—his home state of Wisconsin is well-known for its dairy exports. But thanks to Canada’s dairy supply management, your options for American dairy products are limited, anyway. Liberté is another Quebec brand that you can support—its yogourt uses dairy from Quebec and is manufactured in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.

Ice cream

On the topic of dairy products, American food giants Nestlé (which makes Häagen-Dazs) and Unilever (makers of Breyers) have dominated the ice cream market in Canada. Although both companies have plants in Simcoe, Ont., and London Ont., respectively, you do have more local options. Kawartha Dairy Company from Bobcaygeon, Ont. and Chapman’s from Markdale, Ont. are two of Canada’s largest independent and family-owned ice cream makers. Chapman’s, in particular, sustained a devastating fire to its factory in 2009, but refused takeover offers from Nestle and Unilever and went back into business with a new facility.

Cucumbers and other produce

You’ll also be paying more for cucumbers and gherkins, more products that Paul Ryan’s Wisconsin is known for. Instead, look to Lakeside Packers, a family-owned operation based in Harrow, Ont., that stands as one of the last remaining pickle packers in Canada. It’s one of the recommendations from food writer Anita Stewart, who has compiled a list of 150 grocery products that are grown and processed in Canada. When buying groceries, be sure to check your labels carefully. However, the harsh Canadian climate poses a bit of a challenge for some fruits and vegetables, such as avocados. If you can’t get it from this country, consider getting it from Mexico and stand with another NAFTA partner being targeted by Trump.


Flavoured carbonated water

It’s yet another Wisconsin product being tariffed. The state is home to LaCroix, a brand of flavoured sparkling water. LaCroix only recently entered the Canadian market, which had been dominated by European brands such as Perrier and San Pellegrino. The local option is Montellier, which sources its water from Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval, Que., and is bottled in Quebec City.

Soy sauce

Kikkoman is among the world’s most popular soy sauce brands, and its products are ubiquitous in the international aisle of any grocery store. Just like cucumbers and dairy, Kikkoman’s soy sauce also comes from the Badger State and became subject to the new tariffs at the beginning of July. For a domestic option, look to President’s Choice soy sauce, which is brewed and packaged in Canada.

Maple syrup

Lori L. Stalteri/Flickr

Tariffs on maple syrup won’t have the same impact that tariffs on the aforementioned products will. Most of the maple syrup that we import is from Maine, which is a relatively small state with minimal sway in presidential elections. Also, Quebec already produces 72 per cent of the world’s maple syrup. Still, there’s power in symbolism, and if you’re really upset about the trade war, it should at least make you feel better that there’s now an even better reason to buy maple syrup—one of the few things understood as distinctly Canadian cuisine.

Cars, trucks and SUVs

Workers inspect vehicles and work on the assembly line at Honda of Canada Mfg. Plant 2 in Alliston, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Automobiles may not be on the tariffs list, but with Trump threatening to implement penalties on motor vehicle imports (which could upend Ontario’s economy), the time is now to support domestic-made cars and trucks. After all, we’re the fourth-biggest automaker in the world and motor vehicles are our second-biggest export. The Dodge Grand Caravan and the Chrysler Pacifica are all assembled in Windsor. In Oakville, Ford manufactures the Edge and the Flex as well as the Lincoln MKT and Nautilus. General Motors manufactures the Cadillac XTS and the Chevrolet Impala, as well as the top-selling Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks in Oshawa, Ont. But you’ll still be supporting American brands with these options, and a sizable share of your money will inevitably end up in Michigan with these choices. Luckily, the Big Three aren’t your only options. Toyota makes the Corolla as well as the Lexus RX in Cambridge, Ont., and the RAV4 in Woodstock, Ont. In Alliston, Ont., Honda has a plant that manufactures the CR-V and Civic. To be sure, parts for almost all these models flow back and forth across the Canada-U.S. line before the cars are built. But that’s okay. With luck, and before it’s too late, someone will explain that to Donald Trump.

Musical instruments

Musical instruments of any kind aren’t included in the list of tariffed goods, either. But if you’re a guitarist, consider choosing Godin or Michael Heiden guitars—these luthiers craft their instruments in La Patrie, Que. and Vancouver, respectively. For the drummers, Sabian Cymbals is a Canadian company that manufactures its cymbals in Meductic, N.B. Sabian’s back story is, in some ways, analogous to the current fraught state of U.S.-Canada relations. The company was founded 1981 by Robert Zildjian, who left Massachusetts-based cymbal company Zildjian after a feud with his brother. Today, Zildjian and Sabian are two of the world’s largest cymbal manufacturers and continue to share a close, cross-border rivalry.


Blackberry may not have the prominence in the market it did a decade ago, but the Waterloo, Ont. company continues to make quality smartphones. The Blackberry Motion is a solid alternative to the California-designed Apple iPhone 8, but if you’re longing for the physical keyboard that Blackberry is known for, consider getting the Key2.

Sports equipment

Hockey is a sport synonymous with Canada, yet it’s difficult to find any domestic-made hockey sticks. Among the big hockey stick makers, Bauer, Warrior and Easton are all American, and your Canadian options are either CCM or Sher-Wood. The majority of big-brand stickmakers now outsource their manufacturing overseas. For a truly Canadian hockey stick, your best bet may be Colt. The Colt hockey stick is a Kickstarter-funded product manufactured in Mississauga, Ont., and claims to be significantly more durable than its competitors. In addition, if you’re looking to enjoy America’s pastime with Canadian-made equipment, look no further than Sam Bats, which are manufactured in Carleton Place, Ont. Sam Bat was the company that introduced maple wood bats to the pros, an oh-so-Canadian material that now accounts for 75 per cent of the bats in Major League Baseball.

RELATED: Chrystia Freeland tells tales of battling Trump over trade

Greeting cards

“Printed or illustrated postcards; printed cards bearing personal greetings, messages or announcements, whether or not illustrated, with or without envelopes or trimmings,” as the Canadian government put it in its long-winded description, are also being tariffed. The world’s largest maker of greeting cards, Hallmark, has its operations and manufacturing based in Kansas City, Mo. As an alternative, look into getting your loved ones cards from the countless artisan card-makers across the country, like Vancouver’s the Beautiful Project. Or from a business like Tree Free, whose cards are distributed by the Oshawa, Ont.-based MapArt Publishing Corporation. In wake of the trade war, U.S.-based Tree Free jumped on the #BuyCanadian bandwagon, declaring on its website that its cards are manufactured, warehoused and sold by Canadian businesses.

Peanut butter and jam

Jif peanut butter also comes from Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky—it’s produced in Lexington, to be specific. In addition, Jif is owned by the J.M. Smucker Company, which produces Smucker’s jam, jelly and marmalade in Orrville, Ohio. Its competitor Kraft Heinz may have moved its ketchup operations to Ohio, but the company still has facilities in Ingleside, Ont., and Mount Royal, Que., making fruit preserves and peanut butter. If we’re prepared to pass on an American company’s product because it falls into a tariffed category and is made States-side, we should likewise support the ones it makes here. On top of that, you’ll avoid paying more for strawberry jam, which is now subject to tariffs.


Earlier this year, Campbell’s announced that it would close its plant in Toronto and shift operations to facilities in North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. Soup is another food product on the list of tariffed items, and there’s a good selection of brands that still produce the stuff here at home. Unilever’s plant in Brampton, Ont., produces dry soup mixes under the Lipton and Knorr brands. For canned soup, choose Aylmer, Primo or Baxters soups—products from all three of these brands are manufactured at the Baxters factory in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.


Sleep better knowing that you can avoid tariffs and support Canadian-made products. Launched in 2015, Endy is a Toronto-based direct-to-order mattress-in-a-box startup. Unlike its rivals, the company manufactures all of its products domestically in its Montreal factory. Endy’s competitors include Casper from New York City, which makes its mattresses in the United States, and Edmonton-based Novosbed, which bases its manufacturing in Pennsylvania.

Clarification: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that peanut butter was on Canada’s tariff list