Category Archives: Native

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

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:

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.


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


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The Heart Never Knows …

The heart never knows the colour of the skin."


Posted by on October 12, 2014 in Canadian-related Links, Native, Quote


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Halifax’s Worst Explosions, Tsunami and Snow!

Prior tо thе invention of nuclear tесhnоlоgіеѕ, the wоrѕt man-made еxрlоѕіоn occurred іn Halifax, Nova Scotia, on December 6, 1917, at roughly 8:45 am.   Dеѕtrоуіng thе еntіrе district of Richmond, thе еxрlоѕіоn wаѕ саuѕеd whеn a French cargo ship, SS Mont Blаnс, саrrуіng wartime wеароnѕ collided wіth a Nоrwеgіаn ѕhір, SS Imo.  

Map of Nova Scotia and area

Nova Scotia and area. Source: County Minor Hockey Ass’n.

Ships carrying dangerous cargo were not allowed into the harbour before the war, but the risks posed by German submarines had resulted in a relaxing of regulations.

The collision caused a fіrе to brеаk out, which in turn іgnіtеd thе еxрlоѕіvеѕ оn bоаrd. A huge еxрlоѕіоn wаѕ саuѕеd, killing 2000 people and injuring 9000 from fіrеѕ, fаllіng dеbrіѕ, and collapsing buіldіngѕ.  The out-of-control fire aboard Mont-Blanc set off her highly explosive cargo. The ship was completely blown apart, and the remains of her hull were launched nearly 1,000 feet into the air.  The blast travelled at more than 1,000 metres per second. Temperatures of 5 000 °C and pressures of thousands of atmospheres accompanied the moment of detonation at the centre of the explosion.  White-hot shards of iron rained down upon Halifax and Dartmouth. The Mont-Blanc’s forward 90 mm gun landed about 5.6 kilometres north of the explosion site near Albro Lake in Dartmouth, while part of her anchor, weighing half a ton, landed 3.2 kilometres south at Armdale.

Halifax explosion blast cloud

View, of the column of smoke raised by the Halifax Explosion. One of only a few photographs of the blast itself. 6 Dec. 1917 / Halifax, N.S.; 6 December 1917 Source: Library and Archives Canada/PA-166585

The shock wave from the blast travelled through the earth at nearly 23 times the speed of sound and was felt as far away as Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island.  An area over 400 acres was destroyed by the explosion, while the harbour floor was momentarily exposed by the volume of water that vaporized. A tsunami was formed by water surging in to fill the void, which rose up as high as 18 metres (60 feet) above the harbour’s high-water mark on the Halifax side.  Imo was carried onto the shore at Dartmouth by the tsunami.

The disaster had damaged buildings and shattered windows as far away as Sackville and Windsor Junction, about 16 kilometres  away. Buildings shook and items fell from shelves as far away as Truro and New Glasgow, both over 100 kilometres  away. The explosion was felt and heard in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, roughly 215 kilometres  north, and as far away as North Cape Breton, 360 kilometres  east.

Relief efforts were hampered the following day by a blizzard that blanketed Halifax with 16 inches  of heavy snow.

Robert Borden, Canada’s prime minister at the time, was in Charlottetown at the time of explosion and he also heard it along with many of his officials. He arrived and toured Halifax two days later to oversee and organize the recovery and rescue efforts.

Thе еxрlоѕіоn also wiped оut the еntіrе lосаl соmmunіtу оf Mі’kmаԛ First Nаtіоnѕ реорlе that had lіvеd in thе Tuft’ѕ Cоvе аrеа fоr generations.

The last body, a caretaker killed at the Exhibition Grounds, was not recovered until the summer of 1919.  An additional 9,000 were injured, 6,000 of them seriously; 1,630 homes were destroyed in the explosion and fires, with 12,000 more houses damaged.

Many of the wounds inflicted by the blast were permanently debilitating, with many people partially blinded by flying glass or by the flash of the explosion.  With the recently formed Canadian National Institute for the Blind, they managed to greatly improve the treatment of damaged eyes.

The death toll could have been worse if not for the self-sacrifice of an Intercolonial Railway dispatcher, Patrick Vincent (Vince) Coleman, operating at the Richmond Railway Yards about a quarter-mile away from Pier 6 where the explosion occurred. He and his co-worker, William Lovett, learned of the dangerous cargo aboard the burning Mont-Blanc from a sailor and began to flee. Coleman remembered, however, that an incoming passenger train from Saint John, New Brunswick was due to arrive at the rail yard within minutes. Coleman sent his Morse code message and left with Lovett. For unknown reasons, he returned to his post alone and continued to send out urgent telegraph messages to stop the train. Several variations of the message have been reported, among them this from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic:

“Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys.”

There are a number of books written about this event.  A few notable ones are:

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917,

Curse of the Narrows: The Halifax Explosion 1917,

Dear Canada: No Safe Harbour: The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1917,

and Dear Canada: No Safe Harbour: The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1917.



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Medicine Man’s Hat

Medicine Hat in Alberta was named in 1882 by Cpl Walter Johnson of the North-West Mounted Police. Johnson may have simply translated the Blackfoot Saamis, “head-dress of a medicine man”, in reference to the shape of a small hill.

Medicine Hat

View from the Finley Bridge, looking southwest toward City Hall and Court of Queen’s Bench. MedHatRiverViewCC BY-SA 3.0
Festbock – Own work

However, at least 13 legends about the naming of the place have evolved over the years.

One story often told claims a Blackfoot medicine man was killed during a battle with the Cree medicine man’s hat, with the Cree fleeing.

When some suggestions were made in 1910 to give the city a more prosaic name, such as Gasburg, or Smithville, the calamity was stifled after famous British writer Rudyard Kipling sharply rebuked the thought of such insolence.

There is a great book, Dictionary of Canadian Place Names that I still refer to for research, and sometimes just to read through. To visit the official page for the city of Medicine hat, click HERE! If you are thinking of visiting Medicine Hat someday, I refer you to Medicine Hat Tourism.


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Definitely More Than Chocolates!

Laura Secord is a Canadian chocolatier, confectionery, and ice cream company that was founded by Frank P. O’Connor. It was to commemorate the centennial of Laura Secord’s walk in 1913, and to capitalize on Canadian patriotic feelings.  In this vein, allow me to introduce you to Laura Secord, Canadian heroine of the War of 1812.

Laura Secord in 1865

Laura Secord in 1865

She was born Laura Ingersoll, on September 13, 1775 in Great Barrington, Province of Massachusetts Bay.  She died on October 17, 1868 at the age of 93, in the Village of Chippawa, Ontario.  She married James Secord in 1797 and together they had seven children:

  • Mary (1799)
  • Charlotte (1801)
  • Harriet (1803)
  • Charles Badeau (1809)
  • Appolonia (1810)
  • Laura Ann (1815)
  • Hannah (1817)

James Secord was seriously wounded at the Battle of Queenston Heights early in the War of 1812. While he was still recovering in 1813, the Americans invaded the Niagara Peninsula, including Queenston (where they lived).

It was during this occupation that Secord overheard information about a planned American attack.  So that night, June 22, she sneaked out to inform Lieutenant James FitzGibbon.  To reach him, she walked 32 km (20 miles) from present-day Queenston through St. Davids, Homer, Shipman’s Corners and Short Hills at the Niagara Escarpment.  She arrived at the camp of allied Mohawk warriors who led her the rest of the way to FitzGibbon’s headquarters at the DeCew House.

There is debate among historians about the exact details, but many agree that the walk was dangerous, as it was American-occupied territory.

It was said that Laura had brought a cow with her as an excuse to leave her home in case the American patrols questioned her.

With her information, a small British force and a larger contingent of Mohawk warriors, they repelled the invading Americans at the Battle of Beaver Dams.  Most of the American forces were casualties or were taken prisoner.

I do hereby Certify that on the 22d. day of June 1813, Mrs. Secord, Wife of James Secord, Esqr. then of St. David’s, came to me at the Beaver Dam after Sun Set, having come from her house at St. David’s by a circuitous route a distance of twelve miles, and informed me that her Husband had learnt from an American officer the preceding night that a Detachment from the American Army then in Fort George would be sent out on the following morning (the 23d.) for the purpose of Surprising and capturing a Detachment of the 49th Regt. then at Beaver Dam under my Command. In Consequence of this information, I placed the Indians under Norton together with my own Detachment in a Situation to intercept the American Detachment and we occupied it during the night of the 22d. – but the Enemy did not come until the morning of the 24th when his Detachment was captured. Colonel Boerstler, their commander, in a conversation with me confirmed fully the information communicated to me by Mrs. Secord and accounted for the attempt not having been made on the 23rd. as at first intended.
—  James FitzGibbon, letter dated 11 May 1827

Laura Secord died in 1868 at the age of 93.  She was interred next to her husband in the Drummond Hill Cemetery in Niagara Falls.  Her grave is marked by a monument with a bust on top, and is close to a monument marking the Battle of Lundy’s Lane.  The inscription on her grave marker reads:

To perpetuate the name and fame of Laura Secord, who walked alone nearly 20 miles by a circuitous difficult and perilous route, through woods and swamps and over miry roads to warn a British outpost at DeCew’s Falls of an intended attack and thereby enabled Lt. FitzGibbon on 24 June 1813, with fewer than 50 men of the H.M. 49th Regt., about 15 militiamen and a small force of Six Nations and other Indians under Capt. William Johnson Kerr and Dominique Ducharme to surprise and attack the enemy at Beechwoods (or Beaver Dams) and after a short engagement, to capture Col. Bosler of the U.S. Army and his entire force of 542 men with two field pieces.


A few places to learn more about Laura Secord’s legacy, bravery and account of her life, I would suggest going to:





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A Traditional Story …

noun: myth; plural noun: myths
… a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.

I found a wonderful website at Encyclopedia Mythica Online.  I learned of many myths from Canada.  So for today’s post, I would like to introduce you to a few of them.

* ANGUTA. Known as “His Father”, is responsible for conveying the dead to the underworld, called Adlivun (where his daughter rules), where they must sleep for a year. The supreme being of the Inuit.

* ADLIVUN. The Adlivun are in Eskimo myth (Canada and Arctic) “Those Beneath Us” or those in the underworld or the Underworld itself. It is the home of Sedna, goddess of the sea. This is where the dead are purified before continuing on to the “Land of the Moon”.

*  SEDNA: The Inuit goddess of the sea and the creatures that inhabit it. She was greatly feared but sought out by Shamans for the release of the seals for hunting. According to one myth, Sedna lives now on the bottom of the sea (Adlivun) where she spends her days amidst whales and other creatures of the sea.  (In Greenland she is called Arnakuagsak and in Alaska Nerrivik. More than one version of the Sedna legend exists. For instance, in one legend Sedna is a giant, with a great hunger that caused her to attack her parents. Angered, Anguta took her out to sea and threw her over the side of his kayak. As she clung to the sides, he chopped off her fingers and she sank to the underworld, becoming the ruler of the monsters of the deep. Her huge fingers become the seals, walruses, and whales hunted by the Inuit. In the many varying legends, each give different rationales for Sedna’s death. Yet, in each version, her father takes her to sea in his kayak, chopping off her fingers.  In each version she sinks to the bottom of the sea, worshiped by hunters who depend on her goodwill to supply food. She is generally considered a vengeful goddess, and hunters must placate and pray to her to release the sea animals from the ocean depths for their hunt. The Discovery of a tenth planet (90377 Sedna), a trans-Neptunian object discovered by Micahel Brown, Chad Trujillo, and David Rabinowitz on November 14, 2003, is named for her.

* FEUX FOLLETS.  Feux Follets are wee tricky spirits who live in bogs and ponds around Quebec.  They look like little blue flames and they try to lure travellers into ponds to drown them. They are called St. Louis Light in Saskatchewan, Fireship of Baie des Chaleurs in New Brunswick, and Ghost Light around North America especially.

Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti

Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti

* SASQUATCH.  Well, we’ve all heard the stories. They are the North American version of the Abominable Snowman and the Yeti in the Himalayas.  The Americans will commonly refer to them as Bigfoot.  The word Sasquatch closely resembles and is derived from several native names for the creature used by tribes in the coastal area of the Pacific north-west. It has long arms, an ape-like face with a flat nose, and thick hairy fur. Sasquatch lives in the caves and hidden valleys of Canada and North America.

It was first seen by white men in 1811 and since then there have been hundreds of reports on sightings and encounters. There are several photos and films of the creature, besides casts taken from its footprints, but many of these turned out to be forgeries. There are many people who claim they have either seen the creature itself or its tracks. Expeditions set out to search for Bigfoot have never found it, nor is there any  scientific evidence for its existence.

Local legends were compiled by J. W. Burns in a series of Canadian newspaper articles in the 1920s. Each language had its own name for the local version. Many names meant something along the lines of “wild man” or “hairy man” although other names described common actions it was said to perform (e.g., eating clams).  Burns coined the term Sasquatch, which is from the Halkomelem sásq’ets (IPA: [ˈsæsqʼəts]) and used it in his articles to describe a hypothetical single type of creature reflected in the stories.  Burns’s articles popularized the legend and its new name, making it well known in western Canada before it gained popularity in the United States.

* OGOPOGO (or NAITKA).  A legendary animal which lives in the depths of Loch Ness, a lake in the Highlands of northern Scotland. The size of this monster, Nessie as it is fondly called, is 12-15 m (40-50 ft) and it has a long, snake-like neck. It is popularly believed to be female.   The sightings date back to 565 CE when the Irish Saint Columba claimed he saw the Niseag (the Celtic name for Nessie) when he attended a burial for a man who had been bitten to death by the monster.

A Statue of an Ogopogo

A Statue of an Ogopogo in Kelowna park, British Columbia

While it has been sighted in the later centuries, it was not until the 19th century that the sightings become more frequent. The most famous encounter was perhaps in the summer of 1933. On that day Mr. and Mrs. Spicer, returning from a trip to London, saw a monster cross the road, with an animal in his jaws, and submerge in the lake. This incident drew the attention of the world press and Nessie became an international phenomena. There have been many expeditions since, but none were successful as to prove its existence. Another famous monster is that of Lake Okanagan, Canada. This creature, called Ogopogo or Naitaka, has been regularly sighted since 1854.

* WENDIGO. The Wendigo is a monster who comes from the coldest place. He is composed of mud and ice. A cannibal, he will devour anything in his path, including another Wendigo. His mouth is lined with jagged teeth and he is magic, able to change form at will. Wendigo is a demonic half-beast creature appearing in the legends of the Algonquian peoples along the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes Region of both the United States and Canada. It is particularly associated with cannibalism. The Algonquian believed those who indulged in eating human flesh were at particular risk; the legend appears to have reinforced the taboo of the practice of cannibalism. It is often described in Algonquian mythology as a balance of nature.  Apparently, one warrior defeated a Wendigo by changing himself into a giant dog.

In the northern part of Canada missing persons have been considered victims of the Wendigo and have been reported so in newspapers. There is also a psychological condition peculiar to the Algonquin people called “Wendigo Psycholsis” where the victim begins to crave human flesh. This condition has been used in courts of law as part of the person’s defence.

* WISAGATCAK. The Cree Indians of Canada also knew this god as Wisakedjak or “Whiskey Jack.” He is the creator of the world.  One of his adventures was trying to capture one of the giant beavers who lived at the beginning of the world. The attempt was unsuccessful and, in a rage, the beavers flooded the earth. Therefore, Wisagatcak created a raft, on which he and all the animals got on. This story continues much like that of “Noah’s Ark” and “Nanabush Creates the World.” However, only when Wisagatcak used his own magic (with the help of the wolf) did the world return. The wolf retrieved a piece of moss, which Wisagatcak expanded to create a whole new world.


Posted by on June 1, 2014 in Longer Entries, Native


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