Canadian Girl Dolls? O, Canada…

A few of the Maplelea Girls, or, "Canadian Girl Dolls" as they appear on their website.
A few of the Maplelea Girls, or, "Canadian Girl Dolls" as they appear on their website.

Now that malls are prematurely decorated and Walmart is playing festive music, the consumerist in me knows that Christmastime is here. In light of this, I revisited several old toys that I wanted as a child, but never received. The paramount of this disappointment was the typical American Girl Doll.

It was the Christmas of my fourth grade year. I wanted Samantha, the orphan who lives with her rich grandmother in 1904. She was pretty, brunette and the only thing I wanted that year. Christmas came, no Samantha American Girl Doll. Instead, I got a bow and arrow. Questioning whether my being female was a disappointment to my parents, I asked my mom why I didn’t get what was on the top of my wish list. She replied: “You just never played with dolls. I was not going to spend that much on a doll you would never play with.”

Fair enough. She was right. I was more of a bow-and-arrow type child anyway. Reminiscing on these childish wishes, however, I googled American Girl Dolls, hoping to revisit those dreams.

What came up was a Maplelea doll: the “Canadian Girl Doll,” if you will.

Upon further research, I discovered that these dolls were on the top ten list of Canadian Christmas presents for the upcoming year.

For those who do not know me, I am Canadian. I lived in Canada until I turned 6. I love Canada and I love being Canadian. But these dolls were embarrassing.

There is Taryn, who has a passion for painting, wilderness camping, figure skating and above all, family. She is from Banff, Alberta. Three things she couldn’t survive without are “hiking boots, clean fresh mountain air and butterflies.”

Then we have Brianne, a farm girl from Manitoba. She loves pink and sparkly things. Her aspirations in life are to become a farmer just like her mom,  or a ballerina.

There is Alexi, a city girl from Toronto. She loves orange and her cat, Chapta. She wants to be a famous inventor.

Jenna, a ginger from Nova Scotia who enjoys sailing and Shepard’s pot pie.

Leonie, the French-Canadian from Quebec City. She is an avid snowboarded and figure skater.

Finally, Saila, the Inuit from Iqualuit, Nanavut. She just got a puppy named Nanuq, which means polar bear.

The worst part about these dolls is how obvious the attempt to replicate American Girl dolls is.

I chuckle at the thought of a girl waking up Christmas morning with expectations of a beautiful American Girl Doll, only to receive the less attractive, Maplelea.

Come on, Canada. We can be more creative here. If if we are going to copy America, lets try to do it well.


  1. I agree the Maplea dolls are creeping. The face should be better. I am from Canada I lived in Nova Scotia all my life. I have 3 boys. My niece brought me into the American Girl doll world. I by her one every year she loves it. They are expensive. I’ve seen the Maplea dolls no. I wouldn’t spend that much money on an ugly doll. American girl dolls are beautiful. I definitely would have encouraged her to get a Maplea doll as she is Canadian. They aren’t pretty.

  2. I didn’t say that they were bad dolls; I just personally find them unattractive, and frankly I find a lot of kiddie dolls unattractive. But since you decided to get all in my face I will add that others to whom I have showed the catalog and website have had a similar response. I don’t care if the dolls are God Incarnate in person; if their photographs turn some collectors off, we’re hardly going to spend a fortune to import one just because someone takes offense at our opinions.
    The Springfield dolls have a similar look, as do a line whose name escapes me but which represents Jewish girls. I guess it appeals to a lot of people, or to committees that design dolls, but it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Just because you think something is wonderful is no reason to discount someone else’s opinion.
    The quality is terrific, and the clothing and accessories are lovely, and it’s very nice that they can share with AG and the older Gotz dolls of the same size. Whether collecting overpriced child dolls can hold its own in the digital era is something that remains to be seen.

  3. I should add that some of the Maplelea girls don’t necessarily photograph well, and are much better appreciated in person. I wasn’t crazy about Taryn based on pictures, but my daughter’s best friend was here with her today, and she was adorable in person.

  4. Wow, perhaps you should actually check out a Maplelea doll in person before you bash it. As a doll collector of many years, I think I have a pretty darn good eye for quality and beauty in a doll. My 8 year old daughter recently received her first Maplelea doll, a Leonie. I should add that she has also owned one of your coveted American Girl dolls for the past 2 years. Do I like the AG doll. Yes, I do. She is cute and of good quality. However I, as well as my daugther and my niece (who also owns an AG) are all blown away by Leonie. She has the most gorgeous, silky mane of hair I have ever seen on an 18 inch doll. Her clothing is impeccable, high quality fabrics, excellent scale, and incredible detail. Neither my daughter’s AG, nor my niece’s AG came with clothing that matched this detail (close, but not quite!). She also received several Maplelea outfits. All coats were lined like real coats, and the running shoes were super realistic. My daughter also loves the journal that came with the doll. We are heading to Miami in 3 weeks for a cruise, and although we plan to check out the AG store while we are there, it was the Maplelea that my daughter chose to bring with her for the trip.

  5. I’m an American adult/parent sort-of-doll collector. Actually I never liked dolls until I was all grown up.
    I agree with Alex that there is something unattractive about these dolls. I personally find the faces icky-sweet. Everything else about them rocks, though! Because of the shipping costs, I have only rarely bought Maplelea products, but what everything I have purchased has been of top quality. Ideally, one could have an AG or an M doll, and outfit them with a combination of brand name, other brand name, and HANDCRAFTED items.
    I think face mold preferences are a personal opinion thing. I hope that these dolls do well. In a way I am glad that I don’t like them very much as it makes it easier to resist buying them. (Interestingly, I didn’t like AG’s Kaya very much either.)

  6. The new Saila doll has just won the Canadian Toy Testing Council’s “Children’s Choice” award for 2012 for being “fun, innovative and the absolute best.” The Saila doll and journal have also been receiving accolades from the people of Nunavut as being authentic, positive, realistic and extremely well done. Some of Saila’s accessories are even made in Nunavut by Inuit according to traditional designs. Many people who have actually held a Maplelea Girl doll in their hands and read the journals have said that the quality is better than the AG dolls. If you go on the Maplelea website and read the story of how the Saila character was created you will see the depth of research that goes into the Maplelea Girls.

    Just for the record, it is Brianne, not Brianna. Nowhere does it say she likes sparkly things. Leonie is a hockey player, not a figure skater.


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