Get the scoop on Canada’s 15 best ice cream shops

By Shannon O’Donnell

Nothing beats the summer heat quite like a cold, refreshing scoop of ice cream. But with lots of choices and busy vacation plans it’s hard to know where to stop for a frozen treat. So whose ice cream is worth the drive? We took into consideration a number of factors, including the quality, uniqueness and flavour of the ice cream, the ambience of the shop, the attitude of the staff and the value for the price. Here, in alphabetical order, are 15 of Canada’s best ice cream shops. [Image credit: iStock.com/GMVozd]

Get the scoop on Canada’s 15 best ice cream shops

1. Bridge Drive-In – Winnipeg, MB

Known as the BDI, this legendary riverside Winnipeg ice cream shop serves up one-of-a-kind treats like the Goog Special, Peach Velvet, Cantaberry and Sleeping Beauty ice creams; vegan options are also available. BDI serves these ice creams in a variety of freshly made waffle cones such as the Saltzberg, Coconilla, and So-Much-S’more. Enjoy your ice cream as you stroll across the pedestrian bridge and watch the Red River meander by.

2. Cold Comfort – Victoria, BC

Forget cones. You can get your Cold Comfort fix in a cup, in pints, in cake and sandwiched between gluten-free macarons and dacquoises – but no cones, unless you bring your own. And that’s just one of the innovations at Cold Comfort, where you’ll find a rotating selection of small handmade batches of astonishing flavours like raspberry-rosewater, citrus-coriander and beer-vanilla. Cold Comfort also delivers special orders for private and corporate events.

3. COWS – Charlottetown, PEI

You’ll need to develop a whole new vo-cow-bulary to describe this Charlottetown favourite which now has locations across the country. The rich, smooth, deeply flavoured ice cream, a result of fresh cream, real eggs and slow churning, is served in a variety of flavours from the Cookie Moonster to the Moo York Cheesecake and Cownadian Maple. Buy a cow-themed T-shirt in the gift shop to wear for your next visit.

4. Dairy Cream – Mississauga, ON

Since April 1, 1958, Dairy Cream has been serving up freshly made ice cream, made from real cream, with fresh fruit toppings. You can find more than 25 different sundae flavours at Dairy Cream as well as funnel cakes and Belgian waffles. Delicious, affordably priced scoops and a fast-moving line make Dairy Cream a favourite stop for Mississauga families.

5. Dee Dee’s – Halifax, NS

Dee Dee’s is a Halifax destination with a philosophy that real ingredients produce unreal flavour. Using only local milk and cream, European chocolates, and real fruit and nuts, every flavour is made in small nine-litre batches to ensure quality. You can experience ice creams made with local fruits such as Nova Scotia’s zingy Haskap berry or refreshing Arctic kiwi or go global with unforgettable flavours such as banana cardamom and curry cashew.

6. Homestead Ice Cream – Saskatoon, SK

Homestead Ice Cream serves memorable artisanal ice cream in flavours as familiar as chocolate and strawberry and as strangely cravable as curry and dill pickle, in your choice of homemade cones. Or skip the cone and order Homestead’s Dog’s Breakfast, a massive sharing platter of ice creams and toppings. Enjoy your sundae, float, whoopee pie, or milkshake in the vintage ice cream parlour or invite Homestead’s ice cream truck to your special event.

7. Kem CoBa – Montreal & Quebec City, QC

Yes, there’s usually a well-deserved line at Kem CoBa – go with a friend or two and strategize so you can share and taste more of the unique flavours available. A rainbow variety of colourful sorbets tastes like fresh fruits picked at their prime and the ice creams open a world of flavours ranging from masala chai and dulce de leche to an intense 72% dark chocolate.

8. La Cigale – Chelsea, QC

You’ve heard of après-ski; La Cigale as the perfect après-hike. Recover and refresh from a long, hot trek through Gatineau Park in La Cigale’s lovely garden. It will be hard to choose between flavours such as Key Lime Pie, Raspberry-Champagne, Cappuccino and Chocolate-Guinness. Fortunately, a regular size cone gets you two scoops of ice cream and a large gets you three, allowing you to mix and match some of your favourite flavours.

9. Moo Moo’s Ice Cream – St. John’s, NL

Loved by locals, Moo Moo’s Ice Cream serves up handmade ice cream either by the scoop or in cakes, pies, cookies, or tubs. It’s not hard to “spot” Moo Moo’s as their shop (once a local convenience store, and now remodelled) is painted white and covered in black cow spots.

10. Rain or Shine – Vancouver, BC

Rain or Shine works with Lower Mainland farmers and seasonal suppliers to bring Vancouver the purest ice cream possible, made without soy, eggs, corn syrup or artificial extracts. With plenty of gluten-free, egg-free options and seasonal specials to supplement a standing menu of unique flavours such as Blueberry Balsamic and London Fog, Rain or Shine’s Kitsilano “parklet” (a small outdoor seating area) deserves repeat visits.

11. Scoop ‘n Roll Creamery – Edmonton, AB

Scoop ‘n Roll Creamery is known for serving up a Thai favourite: rolled ice cream. Watching the staff make it is almost as hypnotic as the flavours: the liquid ice cream base is poured onto a cold griddle, quickly mixed and folded with toppings such as almonds, strawberries, mango and pineapple, and then scraped and rolled into intriguing spirals of ice cream. Take your fabulous Instagram photo and dig in!

12. Slickers Ice Cream – Bloomfield, ON

Wine country tourists of Ontario’s Prince Edward County describe local favourite Slickers with the same passion they describe wine. Known for unique ice cream flavours made fresh locally at their creamery down the street, Slickers’ scoops are worth the drive. Try the campfire ice cream made with real roasted marshmallows or enjoy the apple pie flavour, which uses whole apple pies in each batch.

13. Sub Zero Ice Cream – Winnipeg, MB

A hidden gem of Winnipeg, Sub Zero Ice Cream is tucked away on the residential east side at the corner of Brazier Street and Jamison. While you’ll find delicious cones, splits and shakes at Sub Zero, this creamery is best known for a menu of more than 50 signature parfaits. Don’t miss the Zebra Parfait with drizzles of hot chocolate fudge, hot white chocolate and crushed Oreos.

14. Sully’s Ice Cream Parlour – Sussex, NB

It stands to reason that Sussex, a town at the centre of New Brunswick’s dairy industry, boasts a superb ice cream shop. Located in the old Sussex railroad station, Sully’s friendly staff serves 44 different flavours of ice cream in homemade waffle cones, with a charming sprinkle of nostalgia. Sully’s is a community-focused establishment giving out thousands of dollars in bursaries to help local students fund university education.

15. Village Ice Cream – Calgary, AB

You can read the story of the fresh ingredients in Village Ice Cream’s menu as you breathe in the aroma of freshly baked waffle cones. Even when outside temps are below zero, locals make regular pilgrimages to Village Ice Cream’s three Calgary locations for the anything-but-standard menu of favourites such as Melted Chocolate and Toasted Coconut, as well as limited time flavours such as Spiced Pumpkin, Bourbon and Chili Chocolate.

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