(Whiskeyjack Boutique storefront in downtown Windsor’s Maiden Lane during the shop’s Canada Day grand opening on July 1, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
There’s a mystery on Windsor’s downtown Maiden Lane. When the staff of the city’s newest gift and souvenir boutique arrived on Canada Day morning to officially open the shop, they noticed two stuffed animals outside one of its windows peering inside. No one knows where they came from or even how they arrived but the good money suggests they are a sort of a possible omen of success.
Under the heading of the “World Needs More Canada” the little shop on the popular lane, with the great Canadian name Whiskeyjack, is chock-a-block with a curated selection of quality, and mostly hand-made, Canadian gifts and personal care products sourced locally and from across the country.
Proprietor Katie Stokes tells Eyes on Windsor the two most popular items on offer at the new venture are candles and scrunchies. Its candles are nothing if not rather unique, each has a message, which makes them sort of combined candle and greeting card for some of life’s moments. Most are also somewhat irreverent. In fact, the store has a certain whimsy about it as well as being light and airy, which makes perusing its shelves nothing less than a delight.
It has in fact been operating since May. Its soft opening, as retailers call it, was on the first Saturday of the Downtown Market which made for a rather good day exposing its wares to thousands of shoppers walking down the Lane.
Its name, like its products, is pure Canadian. Canada’s national bird, says National Geographic, is the Canada Jay, whose nickname is Whiskeyjack. These feathered creatures can be found nesting in every territory and province within the nation. On its website, the retailer says the bird is friendly and smart, “who chooses not to migrate in the winter, and braves the Canadian cold better than most of us! The name Whiskeyjack came from the Indigenous for Wisakedjak, who was a known trickster in Anishinaabe legends.”
There it is again, trickster, a word that certainly equates with the style Stokes has created and the types of products she sells including an actual replica Whiskeyjack created and produced by a local artist.
When Stokes says her shop is all about local, she backs up the statement by being an outlet for RARE – Real Authentic. Real Etiquette – a Windsor-based clothing company started three years ago by Tam Nguyen & Scott Bisson. Not only was Monday the shop’s official opening it was also the launch of a new RARE product, a T-Shirt with a graphic representation of the maple leaf, the trillium and a rose, symbol of the Rose City, an affectionate name for Windsor.
Whiskeyjack certainly adds a new element to local retail scene and is light years away from past souvenir shops and their style of what some, particularly comedians, would call tacky merchandise. But there’s more. It is not just for those looking for a city memento that is not run-of-the mill but is also a source of home décor and related personal care products, including those from Ottawa’s Bathorium. As such, the venture is a new breed of retailer for the downtown and well worth a look see.
For more information about Whiskeyjack Boutique visit https://whiskeyjackboutique.com
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.