Tuesday, June 18, 2024

7 homegrown products you might not know came from Vancouver Island


Canada’s 11th-largest island has a lot to be proud of!

From profound scenery to a thriving arts community, the island is also home to unique inventions and staples of food and drink.

Despite the fact that Vancouver Island has much to offer, it can be difficult to name many of the things that have been developed there.

That’s okay because we’ve done the work for you! 

From iconic sweet treats to internationally renowned beverages, these are 7 unique products and items we’ve created in your own backyard!

Fatso Peanut Butter 


Fatso was founded with the goal of bringing better nutrition to more people. Nutritious food is a human right. Everyone should have access to nutrient dense and ingredient diverse foods.

For the first two years in business, Jill Van Gyn packed up her small SUV with exactly 73 cases of Fatso and delivered her product to grocery stores all over BC. She set up demos every weekend between Vancouver Island and Vancouver’s Lower Mainland, firmly believing that if people could just taste Fatso, they would buy it. And they did. 

Today the delicious peanut butter is sold in stores across Canada and throughout the United States. 

Empress Gin

(Photo by Empress Gin via Facebook)

Handcrafted in small batch copper-pot stills, Empress 1908 Gin is made by Victoria Distillers and inspired by the legendary Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. 

On top of traditional botanicals, they add a signature blend of black tea served at the Empress Hotel and butterfly pea blossom, an exotic herb that balances the traditional citrus notes of gin with a warm herbal earthiness, and gives the gin its natural indigo colour. 

Empress 1908’s combination of exquisite taste, delicate aroma, soft texture, and remarkable presentation provide the perfect base for a new aesthetic of cocktail creation and enjoyment.

Self-heating life-jackets

In 2022, Victoria‘s own Liam Pope-Lau and Fraser Tuck won the title of Innovators of the Year in the 12 to 15 age category with their invention LifeHeat: The Self-Heating Lifejacket. 

This lifejacket generates heat when immersed in water and was developed to prevent hypothermia. They won a cash prize of $5,000 and an additional $200 for winning the People’s Choice Award in their age group)

The future is looking bright for them as they plan to take their project even further by pitching their idea to BC Ferries Safety Department in order to implement their design with the BC Ferries line of life jackets.

Strait & Narrow 

Strait & Narrow’s Pacific Coast Cocktails have become the official post-adventure reward in Western Canada and although some of the adventures might be different, the same spirit of discovery and a love for rugged Canadian playground exists from coast to coast.

This year the Sidney-based distillery is bringing its gin and vodka cocktails to Ontario with future plans of selling their products from coast to coast.

The Extreme Bean

From humble beginnings, the original Extreme Bean Hot & Spicy pickled bean was founded On Vancouver Island in the early 2000’s.

Tirelessly perfected in Matt Larochelle and Steve McVicker’s apartment, with Matt’s pickling-expert mother giving the product her seal of approval. 

The Extreme Bean™ is a spicy pickled bean with a big crunch and bold flavour. Today, lovers of these spicy beans can now enjoy them with a new Caesar line launched by the two good friends.

The Nanaimo Bar 

The Nanaimo bar is a no-bake dessert bar that traditionally consists of three layers: a graham wafer crumb and shredded coconut base, custard-flavoured butter icing in the middle, and a chocolate ganache on top.

It is named after Nanaimo, British Columbia, where it was popularized in the years following the Second World War

The sweet treat rose to wider prominence after Expo 86. In 2006, a reader’s poll in the National Post declared the Nanaimo bar Canada’s favourite confection.

Icekap migraine cap

Founded by Andrea Jones of Central Saanich, Icekap uses a combination of cryotherapy, aromatherapy and pressure therapy to treat symptoms of migraines. 

“I developed this product for anybody who suffers from pain, sick days, lost wages, and the pure frustration of having a migraine or headache. As a migraine sufferer, I was desperate to find a natural solution that would not only help relieve the pain but also allow me to keep up with my active lifestyle,” wrote Jones on Icekap’s website.

Cryotherapy is the general use of cold temperatures in medical therapy or the removal of heat from a body part. During a migraine inflammation in the head and neck cause pain.

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