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Canadian Cuisine Timeline 1907-1980

Before I go on to the Canadian food inventions and innovations, I think it’s important to list in broad stroke of our timeline. Because of the length, I am breaking up the timeline into three posts.  This is post three.  You can find the introduction post at https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/canadian-cuisine-intro/, and post one at https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/canadian-cuisine-timeline-1497-1793/ and part two at https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/canadian-cuisine-timeline-1816 -1890/ .

Canadian Food Graphic1907: The Meat and Canned Food Act becomes law. This enabled the federal inspection of meat-packing plants. As a result, Canadians stop dying from bacteria-infected meats and botulism.

1909: George Saunders hybridizes cold-tolerant, disease-resistant wheat called Marquis that sees distribution to all prairie farmers. After a decade, Saunders’ discovery accounted for 90 percent of Canada’s wheat crop.

1910: Arthur Ganong, a St. Stephen, N.B., chocolate maker, created the chocolate bar after deciding that fishermen might like a convenient form of his chocolGanong Chocolate Bar Pictreate. It is interesting  to note that the company was the first to introduce a heart-shaped box of chocolates in North America.

1914: World War I begins, and Canadians begin food rationing. Housewives learn to bake barley bread.

1919: Toronto grocers Theodore Pringle Loblaw and J. Milton Cork opened the first Loblaw Groceterias store modelled on a new and radically different retail concept, namely ‘self serve.’

1920: James Lewis Kraft, born in Stevensville, Ontario, added a Montreal cheese factory to his growing food-processing empire and gave Canada a taste of his patented invention – processed cheese.

1924: Clarence Birdseye founds the General Seafood Company and perfects his freezing technique through a device he called the Quick Freeze Machine. Clarence Birdeye’s Labrador invention enableed access to almost-fresh veggies all winter long. However, there was no way for storekeepers to stock frozen products. Soon, Birdseye invents a freezer that will help both the public and store-keepers.

1929: The Great Depression. Hard times have a marked effect on the nation’s eating habits, and dinners change from roast beef, to casserole, to creamed salmon on toast, to liver loaf with ketchup (meat loaf).

1929: The Wonder brand was licensed to George Weston’s Canada Bread and to this day remains one of largest-selling breads in Canada.

1937: Kraft Dinner first appeared on grocery store shelves.

1939: Canada was at war. With women working in factories, manufactured foods that can be quickly prepared became an intrinsic part of wartime family meals.

1940: Fred Moffat, an electrical researcher for the Canadian General Electric, invented the electric kettle, and breakfasts became even quicker.

1942: Food rationing became law. Sugar: 3/4 lb. per week per person was reduced to 1/2 lb.; tea and coffee: 1 oz. per week per person; butter: 1/2 lb. per week per person; and meat: 2 lb per week per person.

1945: Canadian servicemen and women who fought in Italy return from the war with a taste for pizza.

1946: American scientist Percy Spencer accidentally discovered that microwaves cook food when a radio transmitter he is perfecting melts a candy bar on his worktable.

1952: Our first television station, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), begins broadcasting in Toronto and Montreal, and one of the first commercial advertisers is the Campbell Soup Company with their famous Campbell Kids cartoon characters.

1954: The Saputo family, recently immigrated to Montréal from Italy, turns to making cheeses for the Italian community. In 1957, capitalizing on the rising popularity of pizza, they established a factory.

TV Dinner advertisement1956: Loblaw Groceterias began selling “TV Dinner Brand Frozen Dinner”, a C.A. Swanson product.

1957: McCain Foods opened a plant in Florenceville, New Brunswick to process potatoes into frozen French fries. Today they have over 30 factories around the world.

1962: Edward Asselbergs, a research scientist at the Canadian Department of Agriculture in Ottawa, invented instant mashed potato flakes.

1964: Tim Horton, hockey player, opened a doughnut shop in Hamilton, Ontario. Today, there are as many as 4,590 locations in Canada.

1980: M&M Meat Shops open a store in Kitchener, Ontario. Today there are about 500 stores across Canada.

In my next posts, I will focus on each province and territory and their individual flavours.

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Canadian Cuisine Timeline 1816 to 1890

Before I go on to the Canadian food inventions and innovations, I think it’s important to list in broad stroke of our timeline. Because of the length, I am breaking up the timeline into three posts.  This is post two.  You can find the introduction post at https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/canadian-cuisine-intro/, and post one at https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/canadian-cuisine-timeline-1497-1793/.

Canadian Food Graphic1816: The infamous “year without summer” caused by an 1815 volcanic eruption in Sumatra forced many settlers to abandon farms in eastern Canada and move westward into the central regions.

1832: The opening of the Rideau Canal in Ottawa enabled shipping from Halifax to Welland and beyond via the Welland Canal. For residents of Canada West, life improved considerably; more general stores opened, and goods became more diverse and less expensive.

1841: Cheap cornstarch had replaced expensive arrowroot and tapioca starch in every Canadian kitchen.

1843: English chemist Alfred Bird produced a workable baking powder by combining sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) with cream of tartar and cornstarch.

1844: The potato blight that struck Ireland and Scotland caused a famine and pushed a massive migration to Canada as far west as Manitoba.

1847: A stamping machine to mass produce tin cans is patented by American inventor Henry Evens, and tin cans became available countrywide. A taste of summer could be enjoyed in the dead of winter, which considerably improved the lives of settlers, prompting the creation of new and distinctly Canadian recipes.

In 1855, Red Fife wheat caused a home-baking craze, especially when baking powder, cheap sugar, flour and quick-rising yeast became more available in Canada. This created a huge demand for cooking stoves.

1853: New railways made it possible to ship goods from Halifax to Windsor.

1854: Construction contractor for the Rideau Canal, John Redpath, opened a sugar refinery in Montreal.

1855: Eben Norton Horsford of Providence, Rhode Island, discovered that calcium acid phosphate and baking soda worked well to raise bread and began to market Rumford Baking Powder in bulk.

1859: The government created Thanksgiving Day, a Canadian original; the United States instituted the holiday at the end of the Civil War in 1865.

1860: Mason jars became available in eastern Canada when inventor John L. Mason created the screw-top containers. With the completion of the railway in 1885, canning jarsMason Jar Photo became widely available in western Canada.

1861: William Davies opened a meat-packing plant in Toronto, eventually becoming the Canada Packers Limited.

1866: Samuel Platt discovered salt while drilling for oil in Goderich, Ontario. Salt was no longer an expensive import and became widely available.

1867: The Dominion of Canada is created. Also, two New Englanders, John Dwight and James Church, launch their Cow Brand, a baking powder that becomes greatly popular in Canada.

1869: The Hudson’s Bay Company signed over ownership to the Canadian government. The company’s focus changed from furs to goods, with trading posts stocking up with a more varied merchandise.
Also, a new catalogue was issued by the Toronto-based T. Eaton Company. The most popular items were John Lands Mason’s patented glass canning jars.

1870: The first salmon cannery is established at Annieville, British Columbia. The cans contained one pound of fish, and in its first year’s production was about 300 cases. Ten years later, production climbed to 100,000 cases, and by 1900, they shipped out over two million cases.

1881: La Compagnie de Sucre de Betterave de Quebec began refining sugar from beets in Farnham, Quebec.

1882: Thomas Ahearn, an Ottawa engineer and businessman, invented the electric cooking range for Ottawa’s Windsor Hotel.

1890: Emile Paturel opened a lobster-canning factory at Shediac, New Brunswick. He went broke three times, but eventually he managed to turn them into a culinary treat that he now ships around the globe.

Tomorrow’s post will cover the years 1907-1980, the last of the timeline.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Canada, Food, Notable Canadians, Trivia

 

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Canadian Cuisine Timeline 1497-1793

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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Canadian Cuisine Intro

Canadian Food DrawingWhen you think of Canada, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? If you are like most people, you think about the ice and snow in the winter, large cities such as Vancouver or Toronto or perhaps the majestic Canadian Rockies. In any of those cases, you would be correct but if food doesn’t come to your mind, you are really missing something special. The fact of the matter is that Canadians are responsible for many culinary inventions and it offers a rather unique fare, if you take the time to look below the surface.

First of all, Canada covers a rather large area of land and water and the cuisine is going to be slightly different, or perhaps even completely different, depending upon where you happen to be standing. It can really be broken up into several different sections, each of which brings something rather unique to the table.

Pacific Northwest – This area of Canada, which stretches from Oregon and Washington up into Alaska, is well-known for its foods that contain an Asian flair. In addition, there are many Native American additions to the food that you will find in this part of the country.

Rocky Mountain – The food from the Rocky Mountain area is a convergence of many different types of cuisines, as much of it came from outside areas as the railways crossed the Rocky Mountains. In addition, mountain guides from around the world brought their own unique cuisines to the area and blended it with the native tribes.

Toronto – This culturally diverse area offers you almost any type of cuisine that you could possibly imagine. Regardless of whether you are looking for authentic Chinese food or something with a Caribbean flair, you will be able to find it in the Toronto area.

Quebec – The unique food from this part of the country tends to stem from the fur trading industry and includes many high fat, meaty foods with plenty of flavor. In addition, sap from the sugar maple flows freely at certain times of the year so you can always find a sweet snack that includes plenty of maple syrup.

Maritimes – Some rather unique dishes can be found in this eastern part of Canada which includes Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. You can enjoy anything from a seaweed dinner (dulse) to homemade potato chips and of course, plenty of maple syrup.

Anywhere you look in Canada, you will find unique culinary inventions that are a blend of the many cultures that visited the area. It offers some of the most delicious foods in the world and more than likely, you have had something on your dinner table that stems from Canada. So the next time you think about the country of Canada, make sure that the first thing that comes to your mind is food.

For the next couple of posts, I will be guiding you through our country’s unique cuisine.  There are certainly going to be a few surprises, and some reminders.  Hopefully, it will be “fruitful” (sorry) and entertaining.  I saw a notice which said 'drink canada dry' and I've just started.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2015 in Canada, Canadian, Entertainment, Food, Native

 

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May West and a Jos Louis

Vachon has treated us since 1932. From the beginning on a farm to its popularity now, they have come a long way. Maybe if you knew about their history, you might enjoy the taste better. Though really, its delicious whether you think of it or not.

Picture of box of Mae West

May West from Vachon

For those who may not be familiar with these tasty treats, a May West is a round dessert cake with cream filling.  A Jos Louis is a delicious sponge cake with vanilla-flavoured crème filling coated in a chocolatey layer.

The company that brought Canadians Jos Louis snack cakes and a variety of other tasty pastries was launched by a modest family with a dream, a bank loan, and hardworking children.

From its beginnings as a mom and pop bakery operated by Arcade and Rose-Anna in Quebec’s Beauce Region, Vachon Cakes evolved into a multi-million dollar business, which was referred to by one media commentator as a “treasured morsel of the province’s food industry heritage.”

In 1923, Arcade, 55, and his wife, who was 10 years his junior, left Sainte-Patrice de Beaurivage, Quebec, after spending 25 years as farmers there. The couple borrowed $7,000 and bought the Leblond Bakery in Sainte-Marie de Beauce, about 60 kilometres from Quebec City under the direction of Rose-Anna. They had 15 dollars in the bank at the time.

Their first employee was their son Redempteur, who made bread, and with his father crisscrossed the surrounding area in a buggy selling loaves for six cents apiece.

Always looking to increase sales, Rose-Anna diversified into other baked goods, including doughnuts, sweet buns, shortbread, cakes, pies, and even baked beans, which she made in her wood oven in her kitchen of the family home. Simone, one of two daughters, helped sell the tasty treats after school. In 1928, two of the Vachons’ six sons, Louis and Amedee, returned from the United States to help out. The business prospered when it began exporting to Quebec City.

By 1932, the company had 10 employees and introduced the Jos Louis, which soon became its most popular cake. By 1937, the ongoing company was peddling its products in Ontario and the Maritime.

On January 15, 1938, at age 70,  Joseph-Arcade Vachon passed away . His wife and sons kept the company running and moved to a shoe factory, where an 8,000-square-foot extension was constructed and modern production equipment installed. The family then decided to focus exclusively on snack cakes.  During the Second World War, Vachon supplies cakes to military bases in Vancouver (British Columbia), Halifax (Nova Scotia), Nanaimo (British Columbia) and even England.

In 1945, at age of 67, Rose-Anna retired and sold her interest in the company to her sons Joseph, Amedee, Paul and Benoit, who broadened the product line to 111 items. Rose-Anna died on December 2, 1948.

In 1961, with sales across most of Canada, the company changed its name to Vachon Inc.  A decade later they had 12,000 employees.  83 percent of Vachon shares were sold to Quebec banking co-op Movement des Caisses Populaire Desjardins, leaving 17 percent in the Vachon family’s hands.

Some snack lovers believe the Jos Louis is named after the legendary American boxer Joe Louis. In fact, the chocolate cake’s moniker is a combination of the names of two Vachon sons – Joseph and Louis.

Photo of a box of Jos Louis

Photo of a box of Jos Louis

The May West cake’s name was originally identical to that of the movie star that inspired it, but got changed in the 1980s to its current spelling. The original creme filling was custard, however it has since then been replaced by a shortening-based vanilla creme close in taste and texture to the filling found in Twinkies.

The Vachon home in Sainte-Marie de Beauce, Quebec, where Rosa-Anna did her bookkeeping and used her own recipes to bake breads and snack cakes, is now a historic museum.

To learn more about Vachon, I suggest visiting the Official Vachon History . There was also an interesting article in the Montreal Gazette about Rene Brousseau, the inventor of the May West snack cake..

 

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