Nanton, Alberta: where antique stores outnumber liquor stores at a ratio of at least 2:1, where there is not one but two midcentury modern furniture shops (aptly named Nanton Midcentury 1 and Nanton Midcentury 2), where you can spend a crisp, fall day pretending you’re antiquing on the Eastern Seaboard (until you look across the highway and spot the wheat fields and grain elevators, that is).
Nanton is a convenient 40 minutes from the edge of Calgary, or about an hour from downtown. Just hop on AB 2 and head south–the highway runs right through town. I didn’t have to look up directions or consult a map once, which is my kind of road trip.
You won’t need a map when you get to town either: all the shops and restaurants are concentrated around the same block and easily walkable (we just sort of ping-ponged around ’til we felt confident we had been in every open store).
But if you don’t want to just ping-pong, then, fine, here have a map.
Start: we (we= my antique-loving, taxidermy-obsessed, also-a-Nanton-virgin friend and I) started at Because I Said So, a book and coffee shop (and, yes, there were used books; it is Nanton, home of all things used and old*, after all). Why did we start here? Two reasons: coffee and it was the first place we saw driving into town.
*not the official town slogan.
Next: Coffees in hand (and two used hardcover Twilight novels in a tote bag–they are for a friend, I swear!), we walked to Sentimental Journey at the end of the block.
You guys. This place is cray. Cray cray even. 9000 square feet of antiques, 3 floors of vintage goodness. Did you follow the link to their website? That’s okay, I never follow links either, but this time you should. It’s a beautiful website. Click the “galleries” tab and have a browse. I’ll wait.
See what I mean?
I came to Nanton with one item on my wish list and I found it at Sentimental Journey. What is it? Keep reading (or just scroll if I’m boring you)–I have photos of my purchases at the end.
Surprisingly, I did not find one typewriter at Sentimental Journey. Is it possible I missed it? Yes. 9000 square feet. 3 floors. It’s very possible.
Break: lunchtime! The owner of Sentimental Journey recommended a few restaurants: Wild Thyme Cafe and Fieldstones. On a whim we chose Fieldstones (maybe we weren’t feeling particularly wild, I don’t know).
Picture what you think a cafe in a small prairie town would look like. Rustic? Wood everything? Outdated?
Now picture the exact opposite of that and you have Fieldstones. It’s modern, sleek, and European. If you asked IKEA to design your whole restaurant, this is what they might come up with (that’s a compliment–I love IKEA). Plus, there’s a rooftop terrace.
Go here if you want a sandwich, soup, or baked good (but try Wild Thyme Cafe if you’re super hungry and want something a bit heartier).
Next: Full? Good, we have more antiquing to do! Make sure to pop into Nostalgia Antiques (a knickknack lover’s dream), Lost Ark Antiques (very reasonably priced), Antiques N’ Things, and both of the midcentury modern furniture shops (teak heaven!).
You should also pay a visit to the thrift store, The Dressing Up Store, which appears to be the only place in town for vintage clothing. Sadly, it was closed when we were in Nanton (on a Sunday), so I cannot personally recommend it, but small town thrift stores are usually a good bet (especially if you’re suffering from antique store sticker shock).
You might also swing by The Prickly Pear Casa for cute and quirky gifts, home goods, and handmade items.
End: at the candy store, duh. Its name? The Candy Store in Nanton. Very unambiguous naming abounds in Nanton. The best part of the candy store is it sells antiques in the back (not antique candy, don’t worry), under the name Not So Fine Antiques, and they happened to be having a 50% off sale on the day we were there (lucky us!). From personal experience, I enthusiastically recommend buying a square of fudge and trying not to eat it all on your drive back.
Now onto the fun part: what I bought (besides the third and fourth books in the Twilight series for 5o cents apiece, a cappuccino, lunch at Fieldstones, and a block of fudge).
One turquoise plant stand from Sentimental Journey. This was the item on my wish list. A vintage plant stand in a fun colour with a 1960s feel. Check, check, and check. I am so happy with the one I found–and even happier with the price ($25!). Upon getting back to Calgary, I immediately drove to Plant and bought two plants and two pots. Behold:
From Lost Ark Antiques, I purchased a vintage, non-working camera, a little Tower Snappy. I’ve always wanted a turquoise one of these, but when I found a grey one for $12, I figured it was good enough (I just found a red one on etsy for $160, so I’d say I got a deal).
I also bought a set of vintage salt and pepper shakers ($5) for my collection from Lost Ark. My fiance says they’re creepy. I say they’re charming and kitschy. You be the judge:
And finally, this poodle plant holder ($20) from Nostalgia Antiques (succulent from Plant).
Nanton by the numbers:
Kilometres driven (Calgary to Nanton and return): 188
Time spent in Nanton: 3.5 hours
Antique stores visited: at least 6 (we lost count)
Other stores visited: maybe 4 (again with the no counting)
Vintage items purchased: 4
Money spent on vintage items: $62
Cappuccinos consumed: 1
Shameful books purchased: 2
Typewriters found: 1 actually, at Not So Fine Antiques, but it was a very ugly shade of brown and made by Sears–no thanks!
Typewriters purchased: 0
*All photos my own.