With Halloween upon us, and the festive holiday season just around the corner, now is one of the best times of year for sweet-lovers, chocolate fanatics, and those who truly believe ice cream goes with everything to indulge their sugar cravings.
Vancouver Island is home to numerous artisanal stores that make delicious sweets, so whether you’re on an urban holiday exploring Victoria, making your way up to Tofino or adventuring in the Comox Valley, you’ll be able to satisfy that sweet tooth with something unique. Here are six spots to try.
With flavours ranging from fireweed to creamed clover, the fresh honeys from Babe’s Honey Farm are bound to offer a unique sweet experience. Photo courtesy of Babe’s Honey Farm.
This honey farm about 10 minutes outside of downtown Victoria was founded in 1945 and moved to its Galey Farms location seven years ago. Babe’s produces a variety of unique honey flavours including fireweed, creamed clover, and its most popular, wildflower. As well as its subtle, floral honeys, Babe’s produces and sells Jun Elixir, a drink similar to kombucha but made with Babe’s honey as the sweetener instead of cane sugar. Be sure to stop by the honey farm’s taproom to sample the different honeys on offer and to try the 10 different Jun Elixirs on tap before deciding which to buy.
Tucked into Canada’s narrowest street, Kid Sister Ice Cream’s made-from-scratch treats are a perfect complement to a warm autumn day. Photo courtesy of Kid Sister Ice Cream.
Chinatown’s Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada, is home to many quaint shops including Kid Sister Ice Cream, a favourite among locals for seasonal, made-from-scratch ice creams and popsicles. The store’s ice cream maker and co-owner, Brett Black, often incorporates ingredients he grows in his own garden into Kid Sister products. This October, expect flavours like butternut squash and pecan, apple brown Betty and sweet potato.
“I think Kid Sister Ice Cream is especially beautiful on a late autumn afternoon — it seems insulated from the rest of the city and the modern world,” says Black. Plus, Fan Tan Alley is said to be one of the most haunted spots in Victoria, making it a spooky destination for a treat during the Halloween season.
A short trek from the nearby natural wonders of Cathedral Grove, Coombs Country Candy sells hand-made confectionaries like fudge, chocolate and toffee along with a wide variety of other sweets. Photo courtesy Coombs Country Candy.
Just a 10-minute drive outside of Cathedral Grove — a protected ecosystem home to some of the oldest and largest Douglas fir trees in B.C. — sits a candy store with enough variety and dedication to craft to make even Willy Wonka jealous. Coombs Country Candy originally opened shop in Coombs 25 years ago, but moved to its current location in 1999. The store’s master candy-maker, Murray Lawlor, has over 40 years of experience hand-making chocolates, caramel corns, brittles, toffees, fudges and more — there is just about any sweet treat you could imagine on shelves here. According to Lawlor, the store’s chocolates and peanut brittle are most popular in the autumn—but, once the Christmas season hits, it’s all about the house-made candy canes.
Chocolate Tofino’s delicious creations range from house made hot chocolate to delicate small batch chocolates, such as the shell-shaped wild blackberry buttercream chocolate pictured here. Photo courtesy of Chocolate Tofino.
Quiet beaches and the start of storm-watching season are both great reasons to visit Tofino in the fall and winter. Having a mug of local hot chocolate is definitely another, says Kim Shaw, one of Chocolate Tofino’s co-owners. “Our hot chocolate elixir was born out of rainy Tofino days,” says Shaw. “Sit in our cozy shop on a stormy day and soak in the sights and sounds of our miniature chocolate factory.”
Chocolate Tofino sells a range of hyper-local, small batch chocolates, including a wild blackberry buttercream made with locally foraged blackberries and Latte Macchiato made with coffee from the local roastery Rhino Coffee House. You can also buy a chocolate souvenir to take home, like the chocolate medallion featuring the artwork of Roy Henry Vickers, a world-renowned First Nations artist based in Tofino.
Beyond the five classic flavours served year-round, Bigfoot Donuts serves up special creations in the fall, taking inspiration from the season. Photo courtesy of Bigfoot Donuts.
This bakery specializes in made-from-scratch doughnuts and sells five classic flavours all year. According to Lyndsey Bell, one of Bigfoot Donuts’ co-owners, the apple fritter and the Bigfoot (a vanilla glazed doughnut that’s dipped in chocolate and shaped like a Bigfoot footprint) are customer favourites, and both pair perfectly with a mug of the shop’s signature chai tea.
“We love to have fun here,” says Bell. “We’re always changing things up with new monthly flavours and weekly specials.” Bell adds that a variety of special Halloween donuts will appear on the menu in the last week of October. This is when you’ll get a true sense of Bigfoot’s creativity — last year, the shop sold doughnuts shaped like ghosts, tombstones and vampires.
Salted caramels are a fan favourite at Dark Side Chocolate in Cumberland. Photo courtesy of Dark Side Chocolates.
Dark Side Chocolates sells small-batch, handmade chocolates and truffles that are each works of art: they come in delicate shapes and patterns, and some are hand-painted for decoration.
“The favourite in our shop is most definitely the salted caramel,” says Allison Mackenzie, Dark Side Chocolates’ owner. “Our buttery caramel is cooked in-house to a perfectly soft and chewy consistency.” Mackenzie recommends visitors also sample some of the seasonal chocolates, like the maple walnut or pumpkin pie truffles she sold last fall, or the dessert wine truffle made using wine from the Comox Valley’s Beaufort Winery.