A made-in-Alberta Gnome Homes trailer

Made in Alberta: A Few of Our Favourite Things

By AMA Staff

Whether you’re in the market for a new camping trailer, cowboy hat or a tasty treat, it’s easier than ever to buy the best “made in Alberta” stuff right in your own backyard.

Camping is a passion of many Albertans. But whether you’re a tent-bound traditionalist or a motorhome owner, the amount of equipment needed to pursue your passion isn’t always convenient. In Sherwood Park, Cees Stolk works to solve that problem with Gnome Homes. The teardrop trailers provide ample sleeping, eating and ingenuous customizable storage space in a unit small enough to be towed by almost any vehicle (Stolk hooks his up to a Saturn Ion). “You can keep all your gear organized in the trailer, store it in the garage and then just go whenever you want,” he says. Since 2017, Stolk has hand-built and sold almost 40 of his durable, Transport Canada-certified trailers, and expects to make another 30 or so this year. That’s just a tiny percentage of the trailers and RVs on Alberta’s roads, but as Stolk notes: “Quality and craftsmanship can’t be mass produced.”

RV prep guide: a spring tune-up for your camping trailer

Their striking minimalism may scream “Scandinavian chic,” but Drop Structures’ prefab cabins are Alberta born and bred. Founded by three friends in Lethbridge, the company’s Mono outbuilding works as a backyard workshop or “she shed.” There’s sufficient space for a desk, mattress and other small furnishings within the four glass and metal walls, but at slightly less than 10 square metres, the small footprint means you don’t need a building permit in most regions.

made in alberta smithbilt cowboy hat
illustrations: Jason Schneider

Smithbilt hats are iconic symbols of Alberta culture. They’ve been made in the same way, using the same equipment, since the Calgary-based company’s founding a century ago. Here’s how.

1 A rough wool- or fur-felt form is placed on a hat block, then steamed and pressed in a blocking machine to set the size and shape.

2 Hat is transferred to a hydraulic press for further shaping. Higher-grade hats are shaped by hand.

3 Brim is flattened and trimmed, then steamed and shaped to customer specifications.

4 Sweatband, lining and outer band are hand-stitched onto the hat.

5 Finished hat is cleaned and inspected for imperfections.

No matter the season, Albertans are hot for ice cream—and small-batch purveyors now serve unique takes on the cool treat.

Village Ice Cream: A Calgary staple, Village Ice Cream made a point of partnering with local purveyors. Its coffee flavour uses beans from renowned local roasters Phil & Sebastian, while Guide’s Mint is studded with chunks of mint cookie by Pretty Sweet Baked Goods.

Yelo’d: This Edmonton shop offers a rotating selection of Filipino-inspired soft serve flavours like purple yam, black sesame and mango. Try them in a waffle cone, as a milkshake or with champorado, traditional chocolate rice pudding.

Made by Marcus: In both cities, the ice cream maker boasts farm-fresh, made-from-scratch flavour combos such as bee pollen and lavender, sea salt and goat milk caramel, and lemon curd and blueberry.

Community watch: all the best bites in Banff

Must-haves by three Indigenous creators:

1 Carrie Armstrong’s Mother Earth Essentials honour the traditional teachings of her Cree ancestors. Her natural lotions, soaps and grooming products are designed to soothe both body and spirit.

2 A member of the Little Red River Cree Nation, Jason Carter’s bold, modern interpretations of Indigenous imagery can be viewed at Carter-Ryan Gallery locations in Canmore and Banff.

3 Mixing Indigenous and current street-style aesthetics, designer and entrepreneur Melrene Saloy-EagleSpeaker of the Kainai Nation handcrafts unique jewellery for Native Diva Creations.