My Ultimate Guide to Canadian Greeting Card Publishers
Written by Jean-Paul Michael
Are you a traditional card shopper? By that, I mean do you typically purchase cards for your friends and loved ones at a specialty card and gift shop, or from department store displays in your local shopping mall? This way of buying cards is a time-honoured tradition and it can be quite a satisfying method of purchasing cards.
However, if you also love to shop online, you may already know that there are some fantastic online Canadian card sites. Buying online can be a very enjoyable, not to mention efficient, way to buy your cards. You can purchase some truly terrific products directly from Canadian companies, many of whom are small businesses owned by talented artists and photographers, and this can open you up to another world of choices.
While the number of independent card publishers in Canada is relatively small compared to the United States, there is an astounding variety of products available. Some publishers are fairly well-established in the card industry, while others are new start-up companies that are selling their one-of-a-kind brand of cards with enthusiasm and novelty. What’s more, many of these companies also have their own store or sell their cards through certain retail stores.
In addition, there is a new phenomenon that is impacting the card business; this is the Etsy shop.
Etsy is a revolutionary e-commerce platform that connects buyers and sellers of unique handmade or factory produced items. For the makers of cards, this means they can quite easily set up an online store to sell their product line and compete handily with the larger, more established, card makers.
Furthermore, when it comes to specialty cards, there is quite a range online. Contemporary family compositions and personal relationships are represented in the products sold by many card sellers. Some publishers even offer customized designs that companies can purchase to send to their clients. Finally, you can find a Canadian card online to celebrate just about any event you can think of!
A selection of what Canada has to offer
I am delighted to bring to you the following list of Canadian card publishers. I have spent many enjoyable hours perusing what they have to offer and I hope you have just as much fun surfing their websites too.
Battey-Pratt Greeting Cards, Inverary, Ontario
At Battey-Pratt Greeting Cards, owner Annetta Battey-Pratt showcases her unique cards that feature her handsome, acrylic and ink artwork. The drawings are intricate and there is a lightheartedness about them. I believe her love of nature shows in the representations of animals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects and flowers.
Charity Sampson Photography, Ottawa, Ontario
Cpl. Charity Sampson, of Charity Sampson Photography, is an 18-year member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who fell in love with photography in 2008. She wanted to create greeting cards for cadets and their families because there was nothing to buy when she was graduating in 2000. While posted in Saskatchewan in 2006, three members in a neighbouring detachment were involved in a shooting which resulted in the murder of two officers; the third survived. The Angel Series was born from this terrible tragedy.
Charity wanted families to have images of angels following an officer to work and watching over them, to give them peace until the member returned home safe after their shift. Each of the collections - The Angel Series, The Mini Mountie Series, The Uniform Series, The Musical Ride Series and now the Merry Mountie for the holidays - all tell a story. Charity photographs the RCMP the way she wants the public to see them - strong, beautiful and an icon of Canada.
David Crighton, Toronto, Ontario
Toronto artist David Crighton creates charming and whimsical illustrations that bring Canada to life in glorious technicolour. These greeting cards are detailed works of art that could easily become framed mementos and this vast collection of distinctive drawings is amazing.
Embassy Greeting Cards, Aurora, Ontario
Embassy Greeting Cards designs, creates and publishes custom greeting cards, particularly for corporate customers and they will also produce beautiful photo cards for your business. The card designs vary from heartwarming, traditional scenes to fancy, modern artwork, and for Toronto-area companies, they have a number of cards that feature local landmarks.
Flaunt Cards, Vancouver, British Columbia
I enjoy the delightful handmade look of the products sold by Flaunt Cards. It gives them a fanciful, kooky and sweet vibe. They offer original, simple representations of animals, birthday cakes, Christmas trees and other seasonal symbols. The cards are ever so colourful, using mulberry paper so well that it looks feathery.
Galerie Jeannine Blais, North Hatley, Quebec
Galerie Jeannine Blais offers a wide variety of cards without text, which are reproductions of paintings. The featured artists all have distinctive styles, rich colours and a happy, fanciful quality to their cards. There are some truly fascinating designs.
Hazy Jean, Toronto, Ontario
When it comes to Hazy Jean, I must say I love the cards, although I should also admit my personal bias. Heather Jean and I worked together at Northern Cards; she was our Creative Director for most of the 1990s and then she launched her whimsical and colourful brand Hazy Jean in 2001. Heather is an immensely versatile and talented artist and calligrapher and her cards range from vibrant and bright to distinctive and striking.
Jacinta Ink, Stittsville, Ontario
Take a look at Jacinta Ink. The artwork in these cute and playful cards is reminiscent of a modern Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. The cards use lovely soft colours to depict cheerful scenes of animals and nature. I really enjoy the simple humour that links the artwork to each card’s message.
Kat n' Drew, Toronto, Ontario
The beauty of Kat n' Drew cards is that they are simple and profoundly direct. Moreover, they cover just about any occasion you can think of. The limited use of colour with black text accentuates their humorous and inspiring messages.
Kenzie Cards, Vancouver, British Columbia
I love the appealing products from Kenzie Cards for their simplicity and novel artwork. The fun, cartoon-like drawings are beautifully enhanced with watercolours. Many of these sweet, quirky cards use clever, present-day pop culture and movie references to deliver their greetings.
Kim Hunter, Vancouver, British Columbia
Artist/designer Kim Hunter creates her own exceptional cards in an extraordinary variety of different styles and mediums. There are black and white, monochromatic and colour photographs, cute original drawings and remarkable paintings, and Canadian wildlife and nature scenes are also featured.
Lifeprints Photography, Vancouver, British Columbia
I am drawn to the cards from Lifeprints Photography since they pair phenomenal travel photos with lovely words and motivational messages. Sharon Tenenbaum has put together a stimulating, thought-provoking and vivid collection, with incredible images from Vancouver and around the world.
Mark It Proud, Toronto, Ontario
Since crowdfunding on Kickstarter, Toronto-based company Mark It Proud have filled a clear gap in the marketplace. They produce bright, colourful and super-sweet cards that include many LGBTQ and same-sex designs. The artwork is handsome and the universal messages of celebration and support are original and lighthearted.
Mary Ness, Canada
Mary Ness has a distinctive collection that includes a stunning range of radiant, colourful and interesting cards. There is a playfulness in the cards that pair timeless images with contemporary messages. Many use multimedia and have dazzling finishing touches. To say the least, the selection is original and varied.
McPherson Photography, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
Gorgeous scenic photos are the inspiration for the all-occasion cards offered by McPherson Photography. The splendid shots of the natural world including oceans, sunsets and forests make these cards bright, warm and inviting. While there is as yet a small selection, they are most definitely worth a look.
Michael Schmidt Photography, Vancouver, British Columbia
Michael Schmidt Photography offers a large collection of stunning cards created from his incredibly vivid shots of nature and wildlife. From lush landscapes to close-ups of adorable animals and birds, I find the compositions clever, eye-catching and mesmerizing.
NCL Photography, Kingston, Ontario
NCL Photography uses genuine photos of Canadian scenes to make these appealing and engaging cards. You can select from cards with amazing cityscapes and landscapes, with some featuring Kingston, Ontario. If you prefer, you can choose a card where special camera effects have been used to create interesting images.
Northern Cards, Toronto, Ontario
We need to include Northern Cards in our list of Canadian card publishers, of course! I’m excited to bring you our lovely diverse collection of cards for all kinds of occasions. At Northern Cards, we work with talented artists and writers, to bring you cards that are humorous, sentimental, traditional and forward-thinking. We have recently refreshed our product line to include our bestsellers from over the years, as well as many brand-new designs. You are invited to check them out here.
Pacific Paper Greetings, North Saanich, British Columbia
Pacific Paper Greetings features pretty, innovative card creations made with pressed flowers and leaves, which can be purchased for many different occasions. For a time in the 1990s, Northern Cards sold Pacific Paper Greetings products. They come on embossed paper and for those lucky people who receive them, they can become treasured keepsakes.
Party Mountain Paper, Mississauga, Ontario
The hilarious puns and bright colours make these imaginative cards of Party Mountain Paper winners, in my opinion. Many have current pop-culture images, from popular movies and television shows to musicians and people in the news. The wonderful wordplay that results is skillful and witty.
Pictoria Cards, Chelsea, Quebec
I’m very impressed with Pictoria Cards by Geof Burbidge. It is a real pleasure to browse through the incredible selection of Canadian scenes that Geof Burbidge has gathered for these cards. He has captured a great many stunning, clear images of outdoor life in all seasons. In addition, there are terrific photos of Ottawa and Toronto landmarks.
Queenie's Cards, Toronto, Ontario
If you’re a fan of super-sweet, witty, contemporary cards with lots of funny puns, check out Queenie's Cards. The modest line drawings, with a dash or two of colour, show animated household items, food, animals and Canadian symbols, and use wordplay to deliver a fun message.
Regal Home & Gifts, Mississauga, Ontario
You may already be familiar with Regal Home and Gifts – they are an institution in the card industry! If you’re looking for nostalgic Christmas card designs featuring traditional images and colours, you’ll find them here. They also offer attractive, multi-coloured cards with images for other occasions – some are embossed with foil text and others include scripture.
Roses without Thorns, Toronto, Ontario
I selected Roses without Thorns for their fresh approach to cards. They are a Toronto-based business with a good variety of cards for several occasions. Using Kirigami, an ancient Japanese paper cutting method, they have developed delightful, beautifully-made, 3D pop-up art cards. The intricate artwork is quite incredible!
Smitten Kitten, Toronto, Ontario
At Smitten Kitten, designer Amy Kwong sells a range of relevant, funny, and cute cards, including the original Smitten Kitten brand. The cards are unapologetic in their humour and exceptional in their approach, using pet photographs and creative sketches to deliver unique greetings.
Tree-Free Greetings, Oshawa, Ontario
I am including Tree Free Greetings because I like the cards and they did decide to print in Canada. However, this is actually the ultra-nifty green brand Tree Free Greetings from New Hampshire, USA. It appears the phrase you can’t judge a book by its cover doesn’t only apply to books. The folks at MapArt Publishing (the makers of those famous yellow map books), made a rather savvy business move (in this writer's humble opinion) of purchasing the Canadian rights to this USA brand. They produce gorgeous, high-colour cards with matching envelopes, in many striking contemporary designs, as well as traditional Canadian scenes.
Wee Gates, Erin, Ontario
I chose Wee Gates for their really unique products and arresting images. The cards use bold and brilliant colours, done in oil pastels, in their imaginative childlike drawings of people in nature. Inukshuks, rainbows and stars are prominent patterns and they convey inspirational messages of hope, encouragement and celebration.
Yellow Bird Paper Greetings, Squamish, British Columbia
I find the appeal of the cards sold by Yellow Bird Paper Greetings in their whimsical style, fun approach to incorporating nature images and bold use of present-day language in their modern designs. In addition, they offer a selection of marvellous vintage cards. Yellow Bird cards are produced in Squamish, B.C. and cover a wide range of occasions.
As a disclaimer, I should say that this is by no means an exhaustive list of Canadian online card businesses. Moreover, the list only includes Canadian card sellers who have a website. As mentioned earlier, many of these entrepreneurs also sell their cards through certain retail stores or have their own store.
Do you know of another website or two that we should feature in our blog or are you a card publisher yourself? I certainly do not want to overlook anyone! Please drop us a line here and we will happily add your site.
In the meantime, I truly hope you take as much pleasure as I have wandering through these wonderful websites. I know you will find more than one special card you’ll want to send someone as an expression of caring or celebration.