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Canadian Cuisine Timeline 1497-1793

27 Jun

Canadian Food Graphic

A lot of the food and dishes that are “Canadian,” are in fact a result of the early years’ immigrations.  As such, before I go on to the Canadian food inventions and innovations, I think it’s important to list a broad stroke of our timeline.  Because of the length, I am breaking up the timeline into three posts.

1497: Giovanni Caboto (better known as John Cabot) sailed from Bristol, England, in search of a trade route to the Orient. Three months later, he returned home to tell of finding a whole New World of tall trees and waters so thick with fish that could be hauled aboard in buckets. This secured him a five-ship voyage to return. It was disastrous for him as he died on the voyage, but his ships returned and corroborated his fishy tales.

1534: Jacques Cartier sailed into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Chaleur Bay, where he met a group of Iroquois. He was invited to a feast of seal, cod and sturgeon, maple sugar-glazed moose loin, corn soup and cakes.

1580: New varieties of food were discovered on a regular basis: avocados, chili peppers, corn, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples, just to name a few.

1606: Samuel de Champlain, cartographer and explorer, established Port Royal. He created the Order of Good Cheer (L’Ordre de Bon Temps). Prominent members of the settlement took turns hosting special meals. The benefits were a healthy competition within the group, better nutrition and, it made it easier to wait for the spring. You can view my earlier post about this at https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/order-of-the-good-time/

1670: England’s King Charles II granted the lands to the Hudson’s Bay Company. They, in turn, built trading posts and kept them supplied with trade goods and food. Every post was well stocked with butter, tea, biscuits, coffee, cane sugar, salt beef, and other necessities from home.

1755: The deportation of the Acadians from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New England began. Many were transported back to France but most dispersed to southern areas such as Louisiana where they became known as Cajuns. Years later, almost half the Acadians returned to Canada, bringing not only their old Acadian cuisine but also their new Cajun style of cooking.

1759: Immigration to Canada increased. Consequently, ships were loaded with settlers arriving almost daily, and the Canadian food experience switched from a pork, fish, wine and sauce-based cuisine to one built upon mutton, beef, peas and beer. Taverns became popular with beer and roast beef with mushy peas.

1769: The Experienced English Housekeeper, written by Elizabeth Raffald, was published in London, England, and became essential reading for those headed for Canada.

1775: The American Revolution began. Staples such as salt, molasses, spices, citrus, tea and coffee become unavailable.

Because of losing the Seven Years’ War (1756 – 1763), France ceded Canada to Britain, which precipitated a mass migration, especially from Ireland and northern Scotland. Britain offered emigrants free passage along with some provisions – such as tools, salt, food rations, and armaments. Big meat ruled, but it was all tough as nails. Luckily, the English had learned the trick of tenderizing meat from the Romans, and after a few weeks of hanging and a bit of mould scraping, there was your Sunday dinner. It was a bit ripe, but a good long roasting fixed that, and from this habit of culinary utilitarianism came the British reputation for overcooking food.

Late 1700s, potatoes became as ever-present as corn and apples. Potatoes did very well in the Maritimes because the soil was suited to growing them. In addition, just like grain and apples, the excess could be easily distilled into alcohol.

1783: United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution arrived in all parts of Upper Canada and the Maritimes. They brought both their cuisine and their slaves, with each having an impact on the evolution of Canadian cuisine – roast duck laced with cayenne pepper was a culinary eye-opener for Canadian settlers.

1786: John Molson bought a small brewery in Montreal and began creating a financial, nation-expanding empire that would include banks, lumber, steamships, a railway and larger breweries. Called the nation’s greatest entrepreneur, John Molson and his business endeavours created a demand for timber and grains.

1790: A salt boiling operation was established at Twelve Mile Creek (now St. Catharines, Ontario) by William Merritt, an immigrant from Liverpool, England, a city with a long history of salt production. The British government in Upper Canada discontinued the practice of supplying each settler family with a barrel of imported salt.

1793: Slavery was abolished in what is now Ontario. Therefore, villages opened inns and taverns whose kitchens offered employment to displaced cooks, escaped U.S. slaves and returning Acadians. Some of them were famous for their dinners that were usually Southern-inspired dishes like slow-baked Virginia-style ham and biscuits, crayfish pie, fried fish, frog legs, cornbread, yams, tomato salad, corn on the cob and syrupy dessert pies, along with traditional roasts of beef, mutton, and wild game. A treat for travellers, Southern-style foods found approval in home kitchens, a fact that led to the design of Canadian cooking stoves with tops that facilitated iron frypans and boiling pans.

Some of my earlier related posts:

https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/may-west-and-a-jos-louis/
https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/today-we-celebrate-maple-syrup/
https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/making-do/
https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/only-in-canada-you-say/
https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/pushing-his-luck/

Tomorrow’s post will cover the years of 1816 to 1890.

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13 responses to “Canadian Cuisine Timeline 1497-1793

  1. Heather

    July 1, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Great article! I also suspect that the 800 or so young women that came to Canada from France in the 1660s/70s as Filles du Roi also brought elements of culinary culture with them.

     
    • tkmorin

      July 1, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      I’ve read, Heather, a few books on the subject of “filles du roi” but I can’t say whether it was addressed or not. Good question! 🙂

       
  2. cadeauca

    June 28, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Very interesting post! I always hate when people whine about Canada having no “food culture” and aside from thinking that they must not go out much, I’m always like “You’ve never picked up a history textbook have you?”

    I didn’t realize there was no coffee during the American Revolution. Those were dark times indeed.

     
    • tkmorin

      June 28, 2015 at 8:50 am

      Thank you! 🙂

       
    • tkmorin

      June 28, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I appreciate your words. And only one ounce a day during the war? Yikes! 🙂 I hope you enjoy the rest of the series as well

       
  3. The Canadian Cats

    June 27, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Fascinating!! I hope we have another installment in the 1800’s. This bit of info has been an eye opener to me and hubby. I read him your posts.

    Jean

     
    • tkmorin

      June 27, 2015 at 10:07 pm

      Thank you, Jean. I’m happy about that. I hope your hubby enjoys them too. 🙂

       
  4. cat

    June 27, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    … so how ’bout sum roasted Alberta beef with mashed potatoes and veggies on da side or venison with cranberry sauce and early Yukon gold taters and salad mixed with radish and tomatoes and cucumber … whitefish freshly caught in the lake … finely fileted … cooked to perfection in ghee butter and garlic salt … and all the fresh veggies u can eat … obviously don’t get the real point of ur blog post … but just sayin: when u done with history … cum over anytime, fellow Canadian … Love, cat.

     
    • tkmorin

      June 27, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      Stop it, you’re making me hungry! LOL. I hope this means you’ll enjoy my next food posts, Cat. 🙂

       
      • cat

        June 27, 2015 at 3:29 pm

        … o did I mention my favourite moose meat dish with taters and horseradish sauce??? … ok, me stop now … smiles … Love, cat.

         
        • tkmorin

          June 27, 2015 at 3:47 pm

          🙂 Now I have to go to the fridge to grab something! Heehee, thank you for the smile!

           

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