A Canada 150 doll is shown for sale in Ottawa on Thursday, June 22, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canada 150 merchandise sales ‘off the chart’

It’s been said that Canadians are not brash about their patriotism, but you wouldn’t know it from the variety of merchandise, big and small, being snapped up in advance of Canada’s 150th birthday July 1.

From T-shirts to hats, flags to flasks, condoms to caskets, goods adorned with celebratory logos are popping up faster than you can say sesquicentennial.

“It’s been unprecedented. It’s off the charts,” said Glen Miller, co-owner of Great Canadian Gift Company in Ancaster, Ont.

“We had no idea that demand would be this high and I don’t think our suppliers did either. It’s becoming difficult to find some products.”

Miller’s company runs a website that offers T-shirts, coffee mugs, coasters, whisky flasks and more — much of it adorned with a multi-coloured, multi-triangle maple leaf that was picked in April as the federal government’s official Canada 150 logo.

“We even had a book celebrating 150 different beer labels … but that’s been sold out for a bit.”

The federal government is allowing people to use the official logo for free, but they must submit an application online that explains how and on what the logo will be displayed.

By mid-June, the federal government said, more than 6,200 applications had been approved for everything from quilts to fidget spinners to tractor trucks.

No application had been denied.

While the Heritage Department says many licences have been granted for Canadian-made products, there is no requirement that goods featuring the Canada 150 logo be made in Canada.

“Private-sector companies are free to source their products from any supplier they choose,” department spokeswoman Justine Lafond wrote in an email.

One product that caught people’s attention at a funeral industry trade show in Charlottetown earlier this month was a casket emblazoned with Maple Leaf flags and a version of the Canada 150 logo.

Caley Ferguson, president of Northern Casket in Lindsay, Ont., said the product is a one-off that was aimed at attracting people to his booth. The company later decided to auction it off and bids were received from funeral homes across Canada.

“All the monies raised from the auction, we are donating to the (winning) funeral home’s community’s Canada 150 events,” Ferguson said.

A U.S.-based condom manufacturer named One ran a contest to see who could design the best Canada-150-themed condom wrapper.

But there were no government logos in the contraceptive competition. Finalists included depictions of amorous moose, playful salmon and some word play centred on skiing.

As for the official logo, Miller said, people are warming up to its many hues and sharp angles — him included.

“On our Facebook page, we have received a few negative comments about the new logo — saying ‘That’s not my flag’ and that sort of thing, but I think overall it’s been very well received,” he said.

“I have to admit, myself, when I first saw it I wasn’t too positive on it.

“But I really like it now. It’s really grown on me … and I hope it sticks around for a while.”

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