Father’s Day, the frequently neglected holiday, is coming up once again – on Sunday June 17th for the record. But rather than get him another lame tie or another gift card to Tim Horton’s, why not go the extra mile and find him a gift he’ll be excited about?
Of course, the quality of a gift depends entirely on your dad. Not everything on this list will be a perfect fit for every person out there, but we’ve given a wide variety of gift ideas to fit a variety of personalities, from the classic machismo to artistic to a bit off the beaten track.
Dads are often impossible to buy for: if they want something, they just buy it, or they’re so stuck in their old ways that anything new will go unused. So we have taken a lesser focus on the products themselves, and opted for a heavier focus on the experiences. Even though dads sometimes have trouble voicing their emotions, they love doing things with their children, especially when they’re grown up and have left the nest. Taking the time to experience something with your father can make his day much better than just getting him a card.
With that said, every business featured in this gift guide is owned and operated in London as you may have guessed. These local businesses offer some of the greatest goods and/or services that could make the perfect gift for dear old dad.
WHISTLING DICKS BARBER SHOP
Neighbourhood: Old East Village
760 Dundas St (map)
The gift of a trip to Whistling Dick’s Barber Shop could be a time machine back to your father’s childhood, depending on how old he is. Whistling Dick’s is replicating the feel of a 1930’s barber shop and act as a safe haven for guys to be guys. Old tunes play from their stereo as you enter and you’re hit with the rustic scents of wood and tobacco.
Despite their rugged appearance and rustic décor, Whistling Dick’s is all about pampering their clients. Just by the barbers’ appearance, you may think they look more like butchers, but their hands are nimble and will give you and your father one of the smoothest shaves you’ll ever experience with their hot straight razors. And of course they’re some of the friendliest guys you’ll meet, chatting with every patron they comes through their doors.
Whistling Dick’s aims to be more than just a barber shop though, they aim to be a social hub, a place to hang out with other guys, a clubhouse with a big old “no girls allowed” sign if you will. And with a liquor license pending approval as icing on the cake, this could be a great experience for you and your father to share. He might even become a regular and owe you for introducing him to the idea!
Even if your dad might not be in need of a haircut right this instant, Whistling Dick’s is more than just a razor, a pair of scissors, and a buzzer. At Whistling Dick’s, you’re welcome to join in a society and experience the barber shop of yesteryear.
For a more in depth look at Whistling Dick’s, including a video with the owners, head on over to our Business of the Week on them here.
LONDON FLOAT THERAPY
215 Fanshawe Park Rd. (map)
If your dad is more inclined to physical activity or he’s always complaining about being sore and his creaky joints, London Float Therapy could be an interesting new experience for him to try.
Featured in our Business of the Week last July, London Float is the only float clinic in the city. Float therapy promotes relaxation and healing through floating in a sensory deprivation tank. Once inside the pod, you lay in a shallow pool of salt water. The high levels of epsom salt increases the density of water, thereby counteracting the effects of Earth’s gravity and allowing you to float in complete silence and darkness.
While out of context this may sound like something out of a horror movie, float therapy is an incredible experience for most customers, allowing for both physical and mental relaxation and healing. The lack of stimulus allows muscles to release tension and begin to heal, while it coerces the mind into a meditative state. It allows for mental introspection and self-discovery as your physical sense of self almost melts away to the point where some customers weren’t sure where their body ended and the water began.
Sessions last for either 60 or 150 minutes, in either a float pod or a float room, which is more spacious for the claustrophobes out there that may still want to try, but both are the same price.
The biggest barrier may be convincing your dad to get in the pod. But if you can, this could be the perfect opportunity for him to relax his old bones and forget the stresses of his job.
For more info on London Float Therapy, check out Santa’s firsthand experience in the float pod in our Business of the Week here.
ANDERSON CRAFT ALES
Neighbourhood: Old East Village
1030 Elias St (map)
For the beer drinking dads, Anderson Craft Ales is a great gift idea. London has an abundance of breweries within the city limits, but Anderson is definitely one of our favourites. Their Old East Village brewery is also open to the public, which makes the gift more than just a six-pack of their fantastic IPA.
Their small batch, handcrafted, premium beers are incredibly popular among locals, and have spread in restaurants, bars, and LCBOs (only the IPA so far) across the province. They even won the silver medal in its category at the Canadian Brewing Awards, beating out over 200 competitors.
The taproom and tasting room overlooks their open concept brewery, so as you sip one of their excellent beers, either permanent or a seasonal brews, you can watch their process. They also have a shelf of board games for your enjoyment, as long as everyone can keep their cool during a game of Monopoly.
Don’t forget to grab a souvenir from their retail store as well. A hat, t-shirt or pint glass with Anderson’s stylishly minimal logo would accompany the case of beer your dad is taking home perfectly, and of course acts as a reminder of what an excellent gift giver you are, even after the beer has disappeared.
To sneak a peek at the brewery and get more information about their products, head over to our Business of the Week we did with them last summer, found here.
ILLBURY + GOOSE
Neighbourhood: Old East Village
884 Dundas St (map)
If fashion is what your dad is into, Illbury + Goose offers trendy, high quality clothing and accessories for Canadians, proudly sporting the maple leaf in their logo. Heavily inspired by the trendy shops found on Queen Street West in Toronto, Illbury + Goose puts an emphasis on high quality and locality in everything they do and every product they sell.
The clothing brand began with two Londoners, Meghan Kraft and Daniel Phillips just wanting to rep their hometown without wearing hokey, low quality souvenirs. Soon, the couple were selling locally branded clothing out of the Western Fair Farmers’ and Craft Market and then moved into their own storefront in the Old East Village.
Their line grew beyond ball caps and t-shirts quickly. They now offer outerwear and accessories such as moose hide gloves. They also have their own lines of coffee and tea, assorted cleaning products – both personal hygiene and household cleanliness – and scented soy wax candles, featuring offbeat scents like Dark + Stormy, which smells of ginger and lime like its namesake rum cocktail.
Their minimal designs allow their clothes to fit into any wardrobe without feeling out of place, while still standing out as impeccable quality. Even for the old fashioned dad that has worn the same rotation of four polo shirts and the same baseball hat every day for years, a high quality Illbury + Goose tee or hat could fit into his attire with ease.
So if you’re looking to pick up something that your dad might actually wear or an accessory he’d use, while still being on trend, Illbury + Goose is a great place to look.
ROCK THE PARK
Neighbourhood: Downtown London
Harris Park (map)
For the music-loving dad, tickets to London’s outdoor music festival, Rock the Park, would be a great pick for a gift. Rock the Park is a yearly festival hosted in Downtown London’s Harris Park. Depending on his taste, you could get him a ticket to any of the four themed nights of Rock the Park:
July 11th is “FM96 Presents” for the modern rocker;
July 12th is “Mixtape Rewind” for those who want a blast from the rock and pop past;
July 13th is “Bring Back the 90’s” for lovers of 90’s RnB;
July 14th is “FM96 Presents” for the modern rocker that doesn’t have Wednesday evening free.
The lineups at Rock the Park are always impressive and diverse, bringing in a variety of demographics. From 80’s sweetheart Cyndi Lauper to emo punks Three Days Grace to hip hop legend Coolio, at least one of the nights is more than likely fit your dad’s style.
Just to make the gift a little more sweet and feel like you’re doing a bit of extra good with your gift, part of the proceeds from Rock the Park go towards four charities: the Make-a-Wish Southwestern Ontario, Big Brothers Big Sisters of London & Area, the Brandon Prust Foundation, and Western Football.
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to Rock the Park. Firstly, general admission is standing room only and lawn chairs are not permitted due to limited space in the park. So if your father’s knees and back just aren’t what they used to be, it might be in your best interest to grab one of the VIP reserved tables. Secondly, it’s an outdoor event that will be happening rain or shine, so check the forecast ahead of time. Wear your rubber boats and bring an umbrella if necessary. Thirdly, Rock the Park usually does sell out, so be sure to jump on your tickets quick, especially if you want to gift them to your dad on Father’s Day.
Rock the Park is a wonderful gift that you and your father can experience together or as an entire family, so grab your tickets now!
BARACOA TOBACCONIST CIGAR SHOP
Neighbourhood: Old South
173 Wharncliffe Rd. (map)
Whether your dad is a cigar aficionado or only partakes occasionally, a cigar or cigar accessory always makes for a fantastic gift. Baracoa is London’s premiere cigar shop, with a massive and varied selection of cigars for your gifting needs.
They have cigars from a variety of countries. Of course, the usual suspects such as Cuba and Nicaragua, but also lesser known tobacco producers like Italy and Mexico. While the prospect of entering a cigar shop may seem intimidating for the inexperienced, the guys at Baracoa, led by owner Dave Sorge, are incredibly knowledgeable and more than happy to help you make your selection.
If your dad already has his own assortment of cigars and doesn’t need any more, Baracoa has accessories that will make your dad’s day. Cutters, lighters, and punchers are popular gifts that don’t break the bank. If you’ve got a slightly bigger budget or can split the price across a few siblings, a humidor would make an excellent present to help him maintain and expand his at-home collection.
They even have an in-house engraver, so after you pick your gift, you can get it personalized with your father’s initials, name, or maybe even a meaningful phrase or an inside joke between the two of you if it’s short enough to fit.
Cigars are a commonly seen as a sign of celebration, and there’s no better to way to celebrate your dad this Father’s Day than heading to Baracoa for his gift.
To learn a bit more from the owner himself, check out our Business of the Week featurette on Baracoa here.