Despite so much uncertainty around us right now, one thing seems certain: wearing a mask when we travel or go anywhere in public is going to be our new norm for a while. Check out my recommendations on where to find masks made in Canada.
Please note that I am not accepting free masks or compensation for promoting any of these. I am trying to provide an honest update of what I like and what fits properly – and support small businesses in Canada.
Wearing a mask in Egypt
In early March, I travelled to Egypt for a Social Impact Traveller journey. COVID-19 was certainly an issue, but at the time, the reported case count in Canada and Egypt was so low that our group went ahead with the trip. My husband is immune-compromised so I am always extra cautious when it comes to matters of germs and hygiene. However, my trip to Egypt was the first time that I wore a mask almost all of the time.
At the time, I didn’t know of any masks made in Canada, so I was using run-of-the-mill medical masks that cost just a few dollars from the drug store.
Travelling during the pandemic
I felt thankful to have the masks with me because, by the time we flew home, the government announced closures due to COVID-19. Flights were packed – there was even a suspected case of COVID-19 on our plane, a young man who was escorted off by medics. Thankfully, I had a proper mask and a decent supply of them, at the time.
None of us on our trip got COVID-19. I’m not sure if it was by good chance, but when I was travelling, I took every measure I knew of – I wore a mask, disinfected my space on the plane, and used so much sanitizer that my hands became chapped. I even had the privilege of being able to upgrade my seat from a busy back part of the plane to a seat with no one beside me.
Mind you, that was back in March when there was so little known in Canada about the virus, and it’s obvious that air travel will become so different than what it was.
Wearing a mask in Egypt
Shop Local: Masks made in Canada
In the last few months, I have watched so many innovative local designers try to keep their businesses afloat by making and selling masks, while their bricks-and-mortar stores closed. I’ve purchased masks from many of them as a way to support them.
I know that some of the big retailers are now getting in on selling masks. But, I think it’s important to shop local. (Not to suggest that mega-retailers don’t employ a lot of people who need work, too.)
Some designers are going above and beyond and donating masks to vulnerable communities, in addition to sales. It’s impressive they are thinking of others when this is no doubt a difficult time for them as well.
I have tested out a lot of masks. But, in this list, I have only included ones that I have either personally tried and actually liked, or have friends who have tried them.
If you are looking for kids masks, check out my post on helping kids wear masks
As I was looking for new masks to try, I started to realize that I was only seeing masks by white and Asian women. I felt like I needed to search beyond my usual networks to find masks by Black and Indigenous artists.
Masks by Indigenous and Black artists
It wasn’t hard to find Nadia Lloyd in Toronto. Her Black Lives Matter mask has been catching tons of attention because the Raptors have been wearing them. I don’t know Nadia, but I felt so happy for her watching this happen. The Raptors could have purchased masks from anywhere but they chose the work of this solo Toronto artist. Nadia is donating $5 from each $25 BLM mask to Black Lives Matter Toronto. Way to go, Nadia! I bought a BLM mask but decided to gift it to my godson who is a budding basketball star, Raptors fan – and he is headed back to school in the fall where he will need his mask.
Mask made in Toronto, Canada by Nadia Lloyd
T. S. Fabric
I also ordered masks from a differernt Black artist in Ajax, Ontario. T.S. Fabric is selling masks and hair bonnets from Instagram. I chose two of her African designs. It’s a simple mask and it fits well. I’m in love with African designs because they are so bold and colourful -powerful. She added a little bling too, and I love it. I sent her an e-transfer and she had the mask in the mail for me the next day. I paid $32 for two – I ordered the blue one with bling and an orange one.
Mask made in Canada by TS Farbric
Masks made by Indigenous artists
I kept getting served an ad in social media about a company that was selling masks with designs by Indigenous artists. They are beautiful and I was considering buying one when a friend pointed out that the company was not Indigenous-owned. That basically sent me down a rabbit hole to find an Indigenous-owned/artist to support. I came across this really great site called Pass the Feather which shows masks made by Indigenous women. Check it out. There are some truly beautiful beaded masterpieces in there. I also stumbled across this story about these incredible Indigenous artists making these extraordinary masks.
Another artist I found through Pass the Feather is Nichole Leveck. Honestly, go check out her Instagram. She is a dancer, and there are incredible videos and shots of her and her daughter in action. Nichole’s masks are fun and edgy. I tried to buy a Biggie Smalls/Tupac design from her but she was sold out (!). I chose Prince instead! She is also making masks with the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls #MMIWG red hand on them. Wow!! They are powerful. Consider reading this article to understand more about the red hand and it’s misuse in social media. I asked Nichole if she is comfortable with me wearing this mask and she said yes because it is helping to raise awareness about murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.
Mask made in Toronto, Canada
Did you know that Aboriginal women are almost three times more likely to be killed by a stranger than non-Aboriginal women? A recent report from the RCMP showed 1,017 Indigenous women and girls were murdered between 1980 and 2012—a homicide rate roughly 4.5 times higher than that of all other women in Canada.
The Prince mask was $35. The #MMIWG mask is by donation so that she can keep making them and raising awareness. I donated $35 for that mask, too. I’ll wear my mask with pride. I am committed to continuing to learn as much as I can about #MMIWG, and Indigenous culture and history in Canada.
I bought this raven mask from Finawear. But before wearing it, I reached out to Shar Wilson, the artist, to ask whether it is acceptable for a white woman to wear this design. Here is what she told me: “All of Finawear products are meant for everyone to wear. I design them specifically for use by all nationalities – Finawear is cultural appreciation, not appropriation. By reading the stories or sharing mine you become one of my stewards for authentic Indigenous and supporting Indigenous Women Entrepreneurs #IWE.”
I’m honoured to wear this mask. Finawear has other great designs including butterflies, frogs and orcas. I paid $16.50 for this mask. Finawear also has red hand ‘honour’ mask with all proceeds going to support MMI and other charities.
Masks made in Canada, Finaware in Victoria B.C.
Masks made in Toronto, Canada
Perny by Condy
I connected with Perny by Condy on Instagram to try her masks. I purchased two African designs and a Star Wars one for my son ($15 each). The Star Wars one is super cute but I ordered the wrong size! The African designs are beautiful – I love them and they have me longing to travel again! She has lots of other designs, including kids prints and pretty Asian designs. It’s a simple mask and a standard fit, but it’s important to note that these masks are only two layers.
Masks made with heart
Perny by Condy shared with me that her sister recently died, leaving behind three beautiful daughters. In her sister’s memory, she and her mother started making masks to donate to Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre. Mask-making is one way to honour her sister and help her family grieve.
They also made 50 masks for the Parkdale Community Centre essential workers (which she gave to them at cost). The centre requested African fabrics, so that is how she came to have the mask I purchased. I feel thankful to have tried these masks!
I hope you will cheer her on by trying one of her masks. The money from the sales goes back into purchasing fabric for other masks she donates. If you are not on Instagram but want to connect with her, send me a message so I can connect you with her.
Canada mask Perny by Condy
I found another great mask maker in Toronto.
These masks are made by a local woman with a dry cleaners downtown Toronto. I love that she put her sewing skills to work and started making these masks. Her masks are only $10 each, but you have to pick them up at Spadina and Richmond. My friend Steve (in the photo) introduced me to K. Mask.
I bought two for my son – Spiderman (and a matching Spiderman for his dad) and Superman. He likes it and wears it well. Plus, you can see by his photo, he thinks he is a real superhero when he puts it on. My husband liked them so much that we went back and got more.
The original size for these masks was too big for me, so I asked for a custom size in a swordfish and flower pattern. They fit perfectly! I’m really thankful she custom-sized them for me. Don’t be shy to ask.
You can find these masks on Instagram and order them through DM. She has a great selection on her Insta feed. The cotton she uses is good quality. I paid cash when I picked them up.
Instagram is going crazy for Moji Mask. They are making masks that are beautiful and fun. Based in Toronto, they are employing local seamstresses.
I love my Moji Masks and have been a repeat customer! The masks are made with soft fabrics, and have filter pockets in them. There is not a nose wire, but they are a snug fit. I find the ones with pleats to have thick elastics that are too short and pull my ears. My husband’s large size was too big, but he put a clip in the ear elastic and now it’s a perfect fit.
These masks range from $14 – $20.
If you want to dress up your mask, check out these masks by Mississauga, Ontario, fashion designer Maya Charbin. I bought a pink one with butterflies for $25. Her location is near my house, so I was able to do a pick-up and get it within a few days.
I had to tie a knot in the ear straps to tighten it, and now it fits well. This mask has a nose wire inside and a filter pocket. Her masks have two layers as well. She has a nice selection for men, too, including this paisley one. Prices range from $20- $35.
Butterfly mask made by Maya Charbin
Masks made in other parts of Ontario
Wilson & Wilson
I’ve been testing all the masks out on this blog myself because I want to make sure I truly like the product that I tell others about. But, this one I saw my friend Julie share on Facebook. These are the only ones I didn’t purchase for myself (although the Talking Moistly mask is tempting and funny). I wanted to share what Julie had to say about them because I know this company went above and beyond to help her find something for her son who has autism-related sensory sensitivities.
Here’s what Julie says:
“The company is called Wilson & Wilson, out of Kitchener. You have to order a minimum of 3 masks from them – which feels like a big commitment when you aren’t sure about fit. We ordered the Speaking Moistly fabric. There is a comment section on their order form, so I wrote asking about fit because both my boys have autism-related sensory sensitivities. We struggle to find masks snug enough to be safe, but not so tight as to trigger an autism-meltdown.
“The owner, Jeff Wilson, called me to discuss their needs, ages, head-size – he recommended that we size up from small to one-size-fits-most. We spoke for about 20 minutes, and he explained that they were looking for first-hand experiences by people with different needs and abilities to make sure their masks fit comfortably for everyone.
A personal touch
“I really appreciated his commitment to making sure everyone could comfortably and safely use his masks. Jeff was right to suggest the slightly larger size – this mask fits my almost-9 year old’s big head, my almost-12 year old, and myself (I have a narrow head). On me, the one-size is quite snug across the bridge of my nose, but I can adjust the elastics to get a more comfortable fit; on my boys, they are a bit looser but still cover their faces without gaps. I like that there are 3 layers of light-weight fabric, they have been very helpful during this heatwave; the layer closest to your face seems to be moisture-wicking. We’ll definitely buy from them again.”
Mask made in Kitchener, Ontario Canada
Masks made in Alberta, Canada
I love Simone’s Rose online shop. If you go to her site looking for masks, take a look at her other designs (I bought a dress!). Those are her masks in the cover photo of this blog, too. I first ordered two masks – one for my son, and one for me from her. They are beautiful with soft fabrics and jersey ties. I love her work. So I ordered three more.
The one problem I have with these is that the top strap slides down my head to my ear. Simone’s Rose sent me these ideas to fix that: 1) Wear a ponytail or bun and tie the strap around it as an anchor. 2) You can cut the jersey straps and change it to a “behind the ear” style tie by tying the jersey straps to your preferred length / to fit around your ears. 3) You can remove the jersey ties altogether and replace them with elastic and tying them as noted above. 4) I find if I tie it tight enough by the back of my neck, I get a good secure fit around the nose and mouth.
I put a mini clip in my hair just under the knot of the top string and it worked perfectly. These masks are $12.50 – $15.
Travel mask made in Canada by Simone’s Rose
The woman behind Modern Mask reached out to ask if I’d try one of her designs. She is based in Calgary and donates crochet ear straps to front-line workers to help reduce irritation. If you are a front-line worker, reach out at email@example.com to receive your free ear strap.
I purchased this mask with the birds – it’s a pale blue/green colour with gold birds. It’s a really nice mask and it’s well made with a sturdy nose wire on it. The size fits me well, too. The one thing that is different about it is that it sits low under my eyes compared to others. My husband tried it and loved how it fits. I’m tempted to buy the cheetah one for my son who is fascinated by the fastest animal on earth (he calls it a ke-cheetah, I have no idea why but it is too cute to correct.)
Modern Masks made in Calgary Canada
Masks made in Eastern Canada
Summer Gem Boutique
This is a great simple mask and by far one of my favourites. I searched all through Etsy to find a made-in-Canada mask with a nose wire and a filter pocket and found Summer Gem Boutique in New Brunswick. The elastics around the ears are easy to adjust and tuck it into the mask.
I checked in with the owner of Summer Gem Boutique to find out what she normally sells. She makes tulle flower girl dresses! With the wedding season on hold, she quickly pivoted to selling masks. I love this entrepreneurial spirit!
All of her masks are ready to ship, so the turn-around time is relatively fast. I really like this mask and ended up ordering three more. I got my son the junior size and the kid’s size, and both are ok for him. These masks are $15 including delivery.
Mask made in Canada, available on Etsy
Masks made for the community
Dr. Emily Howell
I’m connected on Facebook with my chiropractor Dr. Emily Howell of Ashridge’s Health Centre
and I have been seeing her posting about masks she has been making. Since March, she has handmade and delivered more than 800 masks to Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto. Very early on in the pandemic, the hospital put a call out to the community for donations of masks, expecting they need 1000 every week
. These masks are given to hospital visitors and patients who have been discharged.
Dr. Howell donated all of the masks, which she says, were made in between homeschooling her two daughters! Way to go, Emily!
Dr Emily Howell donated +800 masks
Kelly Cowell and Oxford County Quilty Pleasures
I want to recognize another friend, Kelly Cowell, who is part of a group of crafty volunteers from the Oxford County Quilty Pleasures – Coronavirus Mask Initiative which has made nearly 8,000 masks.
“We give them to anyone in need,” Kelly said. Efforts like these go a long way in helping to ensure that medical/surgical masks are prioritized for medical workers. Masks are given by donation. Already $8,000 has been raised for the Oxford County Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Ingamo Homes supporting women and children with transitional housing.
Kelly was kind to send me a few masks for my husband and son when I was having a hard time getting some in the mail. I made a donation to Ingamo Homes in return.
Read more! Kids Masks: Helping Kids Wear a Mask
Keep in mind
From the Economist
Each mask is unique. They fit everyone differently. And safety and quality vary.
Here are some helpful links I have read about wearing masks, and how to wear them properly to avoid contamination.
Guidelines for who/when/where to use a face-covering/mask – Ontario Government
When and who should wear a mask – WHO
Where to find cloth face masks, how to choose them and how to keep them working -CTV
Dr. Fauci talking about wearing masks – YouTube
Use of masks not always the answer – CBC
Canada’s changing attitude about wearing masks – CBC
Covid-19 is transmitted, above all, by virus-laden droplets of spit. Experiments show that face-coverings as simple as tea-towels are effective. – Economist
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