UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY
Ordering Off Western Canada’s Menu: Public Dining in Alberta, 1880s-1920s
Kesia Theresa Kvill
A THESIS SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS
GRADUATE PROGRAM IN HISTORY
© Kesia Theresa Kvill 2016
Abstract This work examines the history of public dining and restaurants in Alberta from the late 1880s to the 1920s by using food and experiences in public dining to explore the changing and complex spectrum of Western Canadian identity. Menus, newspaper advertisements, and business directories are utilized to piece together the development of cafés, restaurants, and dining rooms in the West. These sources suggest that the public dining industry was a challenging one that was influenced heavily by the prevailing assumptions of race, class, and gender. Seen as cultural institutions, public dining establishments were part of the region’s attempts to prove its modernity, sophistication, and respectability. Ultimately, the food available on menus suggests that Western Canadians found their identity through connections with the British Empire, the rest of Canada, and their own past and through their cultural equality with their Eastern counterparts.
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Acknowledgements This project has been made possible through funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Luxton Family Foundation, and the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. My work has benefitted from the support and direction of my supervisor, Dr. David Marshall. His insight and passion have been a great inspiration to me since my first undergraduate history course. I would also like to express my appreciation to Dr. Betsy Jameson for her advice and encouragement throughout my years at the University of Calgary, and for serving on my committee. Thanks also goes to Dr. Charlene Elliot for taking time to read my work and serve on my committee. I would like to acknowledge my undying appreciation for the patience and support of my graduate cohort, particularly Sandy Barron, Deanna Turner, and Sean Maunier. Most importantly, I would like to thank my parents Randy and Leigh and brother Jovan for their constant faith in my abilities and for their encouragement of my passions. This project is dedicated to my grandfather, John Kvill, who fostered my great love for history and whose dedication to preserving Alberta’s history has inspired me and numerous others.
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Table of Contents Abstract ....................................................................................................................................... ii Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................... iii Introduction: The Appetizer Course ........................................................................................... 1 Primary Sources .......................................................................................................................... 4 Secondary Sources and Backgrounds ......................................................................................... 6 Western Canada and Complex Identities .................................................................................. 13 Chapter 1: The Business of Public Dining in Canada’s Prairie West .................................... 16 An Establishment by Any Other Name .................................................................................... 17 Regulating and Licensing Public Dining .................................................................................. 18 Good Food at Reasonable Prices .............................................................................................. 23 On the Right Side of the Tracks .................................................................................................. 1 Itinerant Restauranteurs .............................................................................................................. 4 Community Meeting Places ........................................................................................................ 8 Feeding Social, Political, and Intellectual Association ............................................................. 10 A Volatile Endeavour ............................................................................................................... 14 Chapter 2: Interactions in Public Dining Establishments....................................................... 15 Serving Women ........................................................................................................................ 16
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Tea, Luncheon, and Respectability ........................................................................................... 19 The White Cafe’s Assault on Public Decency .......................................................................... 22 Chinese Restaurants as Threats to White Respectability .......................................................... 26 Professionalization of Public Dining in Western Canada ......................................................... 31 Alberta’s 1922 Restaurant Act .................................................................................................. 36 Intersecting Public Spaces ........................................................................................................ 37 Chapter 3: Expressions of Identity on Western Canadian Menus ......................................... 40 Eating the Colonial Frontier...................................................................................................... 41 French and Foreign Food .......................................................................................................... 46 Representing Empire and Modernity ........................................................................................ 48 Non-Chinese Food .................................................................................................................... 52 Regional Dishes? ...................................................................................................................... 54 National Identity on the Menu .................................................................................................. 57 Chapter 4: The CPR and the Creation of a Western Canadian Identity .............................. 59 Creating Expectations ............................................................................................................... 59 Feeding Western Canadian Identity .......................................................................................... 67 Dining Car Menus and Illustrating the West ............................................................................ 73 Non-CPR Tourism and the Menu ............................................................................................. 81 Western Canada as Canadian .................................................................................................... 82 Conclusion: Western Canada on the Menu .............................................................................. 84 v|Page
Dessert: Influence of Public Dining .......................................................................................... 85 Bibliography ................................................................................................................................ 89 Archives .................................................................................................................................... 89 Primary Sources ........................................................................................................................ 90 Secondary Sources .................................................................................................................... 91
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Introduction: The Appetizer Course In June of 1908, Banff’s King Edward Hotel grocery list was written down in an account book. Among the purchases that month were peaches; boxes of macaroni; gallons of apples; tins of raspberries and cherries; cans of beans, salmon, and sardines; a pail of strawberry jam; marmalade; coffee; peas and tomatoes (presumably canned); cream of wheat; catsup; Worcestershire Sauce; blueberries; cheese; sausage; ham; jelly powder; and lemons. The amount purchased and the price per item was also listed, and the total tallied up.1 These were the ingredients used to make dishes for the King Edward Hotel’s dining room. As the King Edward was located in a mountainous region, the majority of the ingredients that were purchased for the dining room would have been imported to the region on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Most of the ingredients were canned or preserved in some way to lengthen their shelf life and to allow for shipping to customers a fair distance from their origins. The larger variety of food stuffs would have allowed the cooks at the King Edward to create a more interesting and appealing menu for their guests. A dinner menu from 1912, handwritten on a fill in the blank form printed at the Crag and Canyon,2 lists the foods that were served, including split pea soup, boiled beef, escalloped lobster, roast sirloin of beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast mutton with mint sauce, roast pork with apple sauce, steamed suet pudding and wine sauce, and apple and cream cocoanut pies.3 The grocery lists from 1908 and menu from 1912 suggest that restaurant menus
“King Edward Hotel Grocery,” circa 1908, Norman Luxton sous-fonds, File 47, Lux/I/C.1/47, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB. 1
Crag and Canyon Ledger, 1906, Normon Luxton sous-fonds, File 45, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB. The Crag and Canyon and the King Edward Hotel were both owned by Norman Luxton. The ledger regularly lists purchases of menu blanks by hotels. 3
King Edward Hotel Menu, circa 1912, Norman Luxton sous-fonds, File 47, Lux/I/C4-27, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB.
in Western Canada were restricted by the availability of food in the region, and that restaurants were transforming preserved foods into appetizing cuisine that represented the identity and origins of the community. Restaurants provided, as Donald G. Wetherell and Irene R.A. Kmet noted in Town Life, “food to the many commercial travellers, to farmers and their families in town for the day, and to local people without cooking facilities… [and] served as informal meeting places, providing important social opportunity for townspeople and hinterland visitors.”4 Public dining establishments were influenced by their locations, demographics of their communities, their owners, perceptions of race, gender, and class. As important fixtures in Western Canadian communities, restaurants, cafés, lunch counters, and hotel dining rooms sought to meet the expectations of society by offering respectable public spaces for their customers. As public spaces and markers of culture, modernity, and sophistication, public dining establishments portrayed national, regional, and local identities to their patrons. The reputation and perception of a dining establishment was a reflection of the people who owned it and worked there, and those who chose to dine there did so as an expression of their own identities. Public dining in Western Canada played an important role in the formation of the region’s social and cultural identity. The rise of restaurants in the Prairie West saw public dining establishments move from being the providers of necessities, to indicators of modernity and institutions of cultural representation and social identity. The changes in the public dining industry reflected the changes that occurred in the region as it sought to develop its own identity within Canada; the sources left behind by public dining establishments are evidence of these changes and show how
Donald G. Wetherell and Irene R. Kmet, Town Life: Main Street and the Evolution of Small Town Alberta, 18801947 (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1995), 227.
the Canadian West perceived and portrayed itself using food and the culture surrounding public dining. This thesis examines public dining establishments in Western Canada from the late-19th century and into the 1920s. Chapter 1 investigates the nature of restaurant ownership as a business venture and as a community fixture. The influences of race, class, and gender assumptions on participation in public dining and how these assumptions affected consumers, employees, and owners as the West grew and modernized are taken into account for Chapter 2. In Chapter 3, menus are used to examine how food was used by restaurants to demonstrate their status and identity while Chapter 4 interprets the role of the Canadian Pacific Railway in creating and portraying Western Canadian identity using food. Throughout the following chapters, it will become clear that restaurants and cafés played different roles in urban and rural communities and that these roles changed as the West did. The experiences of women as employees, owners, and customers in public dining establishments were characterized by complex and competing issues, including those of respectability and opportunity. Chinese men, who similarly found opportunity in largely bachelor communities by providing men with readily available cooked food, were marginalized in urbanizing communities as white men began to professionalize the industry.5 Regardless of who owned an establishment, restaurants, like other small businesses of the time, found it challenging to make a “living profit”;6 many who “worked hard, dealt honestly, and
Howard Palmer, Patterns of Prejudice: A History of Nativism in Alberta (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1982), 35. 6
Michael Bliss, A Living Profit: Studies in the Social History of Canadian Business, 1883-1911 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1974).
lived frugally” did not make money from their ventures and closed their public dining establishments.7
Primary Sources As small businesses with a high turnover in ownership, records concerning finances, employees, and food were not kept, and if they were, very few survive in archives. The primary sources that are available are scarce and small; they consist primarily of newspaper articles and advertisements found through online archive searches, searches of Henderson’s Directories, and menus found in local archives. In newspapers, advertisements have provided the names of restauranteurs, their locations, and what they thought was their best asset to attract clientele. After advertisements, public dining establishments were most frequently mentioned when they were bought and sold or changed management. Occasionally public dining establishments appeared in the local news columns after hosting a community or political event. Even less frequent were there mentions in relation to law and crime. Often an establishment would appear in a paper once or twice in a short period of time and then never be mentioned again. Henderson’s Directories have provided additional insights into how many establishments were in a town, what they were called, where they were located, who owned them, who worked in them and in what capacity they did so. The few menus that survive in archives provide the name of the establishment, and occasionally the proprietor, and a list of dishes. While menus offer a wealth of information on what foods were served, with the exception of the King Edward Hotel’s grocery list, there is no way to find out exactly what ingredients were used, who prepared them, or how those people were trained. A large number of sources concerning the Canadian Pacific
Bliss, A Living Profit, 32.
Railway and the promotion of its hotel dining facilities exists in the archives at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, and a few menus from circa 1920 are preserved at the Glenbow Archives. The monthly staff and investor newsletter, the Bulletin, from the Canadian Pacific Railway Archives provides important insight into how the CPR thought about food. Columns in the Bulletin contain a great amount of commentary on the origins of the food used by the company, the standards used to prepare food, and how the CPR incorporated broader food trends into its operations. The lack of any complete records on restaurants from this time period has made it difficult to create a full narrative; much of what the sources tell us only provides a partial picture. This has resulted in a rather dispersed analysis that focuses on themes over chronology.8 By piecing together and analysing the evidence from numerous restaurants, cafés, lunch counters, and dining rooms that does survive, this thesis re-creates the snapshots and stories of public dining in Western Canada that have been forgotten and largely un-explored before now. As the source base is limited the conclusions that can be drawn from them are not solid, but merely suggestive. Together the primary sources on public dining reveals how Western Canadians viewed themselves in relation to the rest of the country, and how their identity was intentionally and unintentionally manifested through and represented by advertisements for restaurants, experiences of patrons and employees, and the food used on menus.
Henry C. Klassen, “T.C. Power & Bro.: the rise of a small western department store, 1870-1902,” Business History Review, Vol. 66, No. 4 (Dec. 1992): 671-722; Henry C. Klassen, “The Conrads in the Alberta Cattle Business, 18751911,” Agricultural History, Vol. 64, No. 3 (Summer, 1990), 31-59. The existence of a more complete archival record of the T.C. Power & Bro. and I.G. Baker Co. allowed Klassen to create a more complete picture of mediumsmall businesses in the West. The lack of any complete records on any one restaurant has limited what is possible for this study, and meant numerous different establishments have been taken into account in order to re-create a picture of public dining in Western Canada. 8
Secondary Sources and Backgrounds Public dining is a part of a thousands-of-years-old exchange of foodstuffs that has resulted from contact between civilizations.9 In Jeffery Pilcher’s Food in World History he identifies themes “crucial in shaping human eating habits, the first of which is the ongoing diffusion of foodstuffs.” As “taste preference have become… global,”10 restaurants have played a continued role in the introduction of new foods to their communities, though most in turn-of-thecentury Western Canada catered to the existing tastes of their patrons. A second of the themes that Pilcher identifies is the rise of class distinction “through the distribution of food.”11 Public dining in Western Canada was also heavily influenced by class distinction—the cuisine served at establishments intended to serve a wealthier population was prepared to reflect their expectations, just as the food available in more isolated and lower-class establishments was closer to simple everyday food from home. “Other forms of social identity have likewise been shaped by food habits. Gender roles within any given society derive largely from the division of labor in preparing food.” The assigning of food preparation and serving to women made restaurant work, within limits, acceptable for women to pursue. However, the same societies that associated cooking with women also assigned men the roles of preparing “high status dishes, large cuts of roast meat, elaborate haute cuisine, or ritual food for the gods.”12 This trend manifested in restaurants that served haute cuisine and in the professionalization of the public dining industry in Western Canada. The food served in public dining establishments reflected the
Jeffery Pilcher, Food in World History (New York: Routledge, 2005), introduction, Kindle edition.
Pilcher, Food in World History, chapter 1, Kindle edition.
Pilcher, Food in World History, chapter 1, Kindle edition.
Pilcher, Food in World History, chapter 1, Kindle edition.
identity of their communities, much in the same way that “foods shared by a cultural group also help forge the personal relationships that make up ethnic identity.”13 As a work of food history, this thesis addresses these themes as they concern public dining in Western Canada during the period surrounding the turn of the twentieth century. While food distribution and the diffusion of foodstuffs play important roles in understanding the formation of public dining, establishments in Western Canada have far more to tell us about the social and cultural identity of the region and the role that public dining played in the formation of these identities in the modern West. The majority of Canadian food history up to this point has not been overly concerned with public dining or with Western Canada as a region. However, Elizabeth Driver’s essay “Regional Differences in the Canadian Daily Meal? Cookbooks Answer the Question,” in Nathalie Cooke’s edited collection, What’s to Eat?: Entrées in Canadian Food History, suggests that “there was striking uniformity” in the cuisine and daily food of Canadians.14 Further, Molly Ungar’s essay “Nationalism on the Menu: Three Banquets on the 1939 Royal Tour,” in Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History, suggests that food and cuisine “were key elements in a fantasy of national identity and social democracy.”15 For the purposes of this study, Driver and Ungar’s assertions are important to understanding the cuisine that appeared on the menus of Western Canada as an expression of a British Canadian identity.
Pilcher, Food in World History, chapter 1, Kindle edition.
Elizabeth Driver, “Regional Differences in the Canadian Daily Meal? Cookbooks Answer the Question,” in What’s to Eat?: Entrées in Canadian Food History, ed. Nathalie Cooke (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009), 197-212, 199. 14
Molly Ungar, “Nationalism on the Menu: Three Banquets on the 1939 Royal Tour,” in Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History, ed. Franca Iacovetta, Valerie J. Korinek, Marlene Epp (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012), 351-358, 351. 15
As a major part of public dining in Western Canada, the Canadian Pacific Railway played a large part in the promotion of a Western Canadian identity. Not much has been written on the company’s dining rooms and dining cars, with the exception of Jean-Paul Viaud’s introduction to Exporial’s 100 Years of Canadian Railway Recipes: All aboard for an historic dining experience! 16 Viaud’s introduction, while providing important background to the development of dining on the rails, does not link his primary source research to a broader analysis of related subjects. John Eagle’s book, The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Development of Western Canada, 1896-1914 provides background for the role of the CPR in the expansion and development of Western Canada, and his chapter on “Serving the Traveller” addresses the focus of the company on its largest money-making endeavour—first class passengers. Eagle pays particular attention to the development of the company’s hotels and their use of scenery to draw in tourists.17 In Michael Dawson’s Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture, 1890-1970, he examines the CPR’s use of modern trends to encourage tourists to vacation at its facilities.18 Neither of these works addresses how the CPR used food and cuisine to promote itself and represent Western Canada to those who travelled there. Two American works on dining, Harvey Levestein’s Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet and Andrew Haley’s Turning the Tables: Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880-1920 are valuable for their understandings of the
Jean-Paul Viaud, “Dining railway-style in North America,” in 100 Years of Canadian Railway Recipes: All aboard for an historic dining experience!, Ed. Marie-Paule Partikian and Jean-Paul Viaud (St. Constant: Exporail, The Canadian Railway Museum, 2014). 16
John Eagle, The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Development of Western Canada, 1896-1914 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989), 148-172. 18
Michael Dawson, Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture, 1890-1970 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2004).
rise of public dining in North America and the cultures surrounding and influencing the industry.19 Levenstein’s chapter, “The Old (Restaurant) Order Changeth,” traces the changes to American restaurant dining that occurred after the introduction of Prohibition in 1920. Causing not only a wide abandonment of French cooking, Prohibition also damaged the income of hotels, barrooms, and restaurants whose main profit was found in the sale of alcohol.20 Levenstien also credits Prohibition with the rise of cafeterias and lunch counters that served middle- and lowermiddle-class office workers, clerks, and shopkeepers. In an attempt to compete, “restaurant industry leaders recognized that the appeal of the new establishments lay in their fast service, informality, and moderate prices,” and appealing to the lighter new taste was vital to success. 21 Building from Levenstein’s work, Haley’s book “contends that middle-class diners were active agents of cultural change who shaped the emerging consumer culture of the twentieth century.”22 Restaurants, he suggests, which had once been public spaces where “social classes intermingled increasingly pandered to the tastes of the elites… [and] became less accessible to those who lacked large incomes.”23 Heavily focused on class, Haley sees the rise of middle-class restaurants and the democratization of restaurant-going as the results of the middle class’s efforts to establish spaces that rivaled the consumption and power of the upper class. Further, he
Harvey Levenstein, Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet (Oxford University Press, 1988); Andrew P. Haley, Turning the Tables: Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011). 20
Levenstein, Revolution at the Table, 183-185.
Levenstein, Revolution at the Table, 185-190, 191.
Haley, Turning the Tables, 3-4.
Haley, Turning the Tables, 5.
suggests that the middle class’s shared experiences of dining out helped them to discover preferences “about where and what to eat” and to forge an “‘identity of interests.’”24 While much of what the Levenstein and Haley say about eating habits, diet trends, and culture were mirrored in Western Canadian restaurants, it is important to recognise that the nature of Western development meant that the trends occurred either at a later time, or in a different context. French cuisine, which both Haley and Levenstein identify as an important factor in the development of American restaurants, does not play as extensive of a role in Western Canadian dining establishments, in large part due to the history of alcohol and its regulation in the region. Similarly, class distinctions did not influence dining out in the same way as they did in the United States. Instead of forming a class identity, public dining in the Prairies was more responsible for the formation of the region’s identity. Keith Walden’s “Tea in the Toronto and the Liberal Order, 1880-1914,” has also made significant contribution to a Canadian understanding of public dining, specifically as it concerns the movement of tea (and women) from the home and into a commercial space. Public dining, like tea in Canada, has been neglected in spite of its prevalence.25 Walden’s article examines the development of society teas in Toronto and their inevitable move out of the domestic space. The move was convenient; restaurants provided all that was needed to properly furnish the tea and had the added benefit of not disrupting the normal home routine.26 Taking tea downtown appealed to the ladies of the city, who found taking tea to centrally located commercial spaces to
Haley, Turning the Tables, 5-6.
Keith Walden, “Tea in Toronto and the Liberal Order, 1880-1914,” The Canadian Historical Review 93, 1 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, March 2012), 2. 25
Walden, “Tea in Toronto and the Liberal Order,” 20-21.
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be more logical “as invitees became more numerous and dispersed across the city.”27 Public dining similarly developed in Western Canadian cities in response to urbanization, and restaurants were quick to use Eastern Canadian trends. Walden also addresses the importance of recognising general assumptions when it comes to teas, women in commercial spaces, and subsequently, public dining. He acknowledges that there is a difference between the idealised versions of tea parties presented in etiquette manuals and what was actually done, while also noting that there are limited sources available to address the actualities of taking tea.28 Public dining in Western Canada suffers from a similar lack of sources on the reality of public dining, and from generalized assumptions about women’s interaction with restaurants as public spaces. Finally, Julia Roberts’ In Mixed Company: Taverns and Public Life in Upper Canada, offers important parallels to the development of public dining establishments in Western Canada. In In Mixed Company, Roberts examines taverns as a places “where the terms of access to public space and public life had to be negotiated among people made unequal by what racialized identity, class status, and gender meant in a colonial context.”29 Public dining establishments in Western Canada existed in a similar setting to their earlier counterparts in Upper Canada. Restaurants, like taverns, were connected to networks of transportation, provided places for social interactions, were “permeated by racialized thought and practice,” and were public places that were not entirely male.30 Taverns were experienced differently in urban and rural spaces, and were affected by their existence in a colonial frontier.31 Roberts has been used in this work to
Walden “Tea in Toronto and the Liberal Order,” 23-24.
Walden “Tea in Toronto and the Liberal Order
Julia Roberts, In Mixed Company: Taverns and Public Life in Upper Canada (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009), 3.
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 56, 77, 101, 120.
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 4.
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understand the reality of public dining establishments as enterprises existing between the public and private spheres. The concept of separate spheres, while important for understanding the ideas held by people during the 19th and 20th centuries, does not acknowledge the diverse presence of women and the complex relationship and negotiation between the opportunities afforded by the public sphere and the respectability associated with the private sphere.32 Restaurants, cafés, hotel dining rooms, and lunch counters in Western Canada similarly required women to navigate their participation within them as customers, owners, and employees, while also managing their adherence to societal expectations. Roberts also addresses the concept of taverns as “mixed” spaces with regard to class and race. Interactions within taverns were informed by “cultural rituals and social rules [that] set broad boundaries on the forms of interaction to be encouraged, merely tolerated, or resisted.”33 Taverns complicate the historical narratives that focus on violence between white settlers and black and First Nations peoples; in fact there was a contradiction between the marginalization of these groups and their sometimes easy accommodation in public houses.34 Dining establishments in Western Canada were likewise informed by the cultural rituals and social rules that characterized society at the time. Public dining in Western Canada were also places of class interactions and socializations, just as they had been in Upper Canadian taverns. Public houses were used by privileged male members of colonial society in “exclusive ways, as supports for the cultural expression and mutual enactment of a gentlemanly social identity.”35 Public dining in Upper Canada’s taverns was also characterized by ideas of “respectability,” which Roberts
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 139-140.
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 5.
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 101.
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 120.
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explains as having a double meaning. Respectability referred “to a socio-economic status… [and] also referred to the moral qualities associated with that status, especially seriousness of purpose, self restraint, and a sense of responsibility to family and society.” Taverns, while often representing threats to respectability, were still frequented by respectable people who went for reasons ranging from social to political interactions.36 In Western Canada, restaurants and cafés were part of a pre-established model of respectability, and were expected to fit within societies’ expectations of respectable public places.
Western Canada and Complex Identities This thesis contributes to the understanding of food history and public dining in a Western Canadian context. The primary sources investigated below reveal that the public dining industry in Western Canada was effected by its existence in a rapidly developing frontier that was influenced by the expectations of a society that was attempting to prove its respectability and modernity to the rest of Canada and the world. As the West changed, so to did the expectations of diners, restauranteurs, and employees who participated in public dining as expressions of status and identity. Western Canadian identity during the period that will be examined below was neither static or simple; rather, it was changing and nuanced. Restaurants, using menus and advertisements, consciously and subconsciously projected identity to their patrons and communities through the use of language, images, and food. The internal identities of those involved with public dining influenced the types of establishments they created and frequented. What emerged was an external identity that was communicated to patrons that reflected how
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 123.
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restauranteurs viewed themselves and their region. As a territory, the people of Western Canada promoted their connection to the East by representing themselves as participants in the British Empire. After joining Confederation in 1905, Western Canadians increasingly portrayed themselves as Canadian over British. These changes to Western Canadian identity were gradual and existed on multiple spectrums influenced by many factors. It is apparent that, while the region’s geography and historical experiences did influence aspects of Western Canadian identity internally and externally, the Western Canada represented through menus and advertisements suggests that the people of the region were concerned with portraying themselves as cultural equals to their Eastern counterparts. Studying public dining provides insight into the society and culture of Western Canada as it developed during the period surrounding the turn of the turn of the twentieth century. This work seeks to complicate the narrow narratives and assumptions that exist on the subject of dining out in Western Canada. Particularly, I have set out to correct the overgeneralization that women were excluded from the majority of public dining spaces. In reality women had a more complex participation with these establishments as owners, employees, and diners. Additionally, I come to this paper with an appreciation for the importance of Chinese immigrants to the public dining story in Western Canada. However, while many are quick to acknowledge and identify the influence that Chinese restaurants have had on Western communities, the sources under examination here are evidence that this acceptance did not occur until later in the twentieth century. The history of public dining establishments provides insight into of the evolution of Western Canadian identity. Food can be used as a way to understand the culture of a region, and this thesis understands menus as curated selections of food that subconsciously, and sometimes
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deliberately, communicate the identity of their creators and the communities of which they were a member. The information gleaned from menus, from both locally owned establishments and the CPR, reveals that the region’s identity was complex, at times conflicted, and informed by cultural identities built on class, ethnicity, region, and nation. Menus expose a West that was simultaneously modern and sophisticated, rugged and wild, Canadian and British and something else entirely.
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Chapter 1: The Business of Public Dining in Canada’s Prairie West During the years leading up to the First World War, the Canadian Prairies were sparsely populated and for many years the population was composed primarily of single men.37 These bachelors, as Cecelia Danysk notes, were seen as a “contrast to women in their lack of such social niceties as an ability to take care of themselves, to cook, to sew, to keep clean, to converse politely, and to demonstrate other features of a gentle civilization.”38 The unique demographics of the West allowed for some to take advantage of a niche market: providing itinerant travellers and bachelors with meals. The public dining establishments that emerged in the Prairies were, for the most part, located along travel routes. Prior to the completion of the railway, travellers would have found meals at stopping houses and saloons along trade routes like the Edmonton-Calgary trail, the Carleton Trail, and routes into the United States. As the railway was built and the Canadian Pacific Railway established stations at various points along the line, travellers were able to find meals at hotels, restaurants, and cafés nearby. The increase in railway transportation in the decades leading up to Alberta’s and Saskatchewan’s gaining provincial status “invigorated internal as well as external trade” and resulted in an increase in urbanization. Towns and cities expanded as markets for the largely agricultural economy, and “many homesteaders were moving their products to towns and cities for sale in territorial and national markets.”39 The history of public dining on the Prairies is strongly linked to travel and the needs of communities composed largely of single men. Proprietors set up their establishments to appeal to and fulfill
Cecilia Danysk, Hired Hands: Labour and the Development of Prairie Agriculture, 1880-1930 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1995), 70-76. Danysk notes that in newly settled areas the ratio of men:women was as high as 202:100. 38
Danysk, Hired Hands, 76.
Henry C. Klassen, A Business History of Alberta (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1999), 47.
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the needs of the clientele they sought; however, engaging with and responding to the needs of their customers and forging connections with their communities as public spaces did not guarantee financial success in an industry reliant upon an inconsistent customer base.
An Establishment by Any Other Name First, it is of importance to note the different terms that will be used to refer to public dining establishments. I will be using the term "restaurant" to refer to dining establishments that were separate from hotels and referred to themselves as such. Generally, this term is associated with a higher class eating establishment than a café. "Cafes" were typically separate from hotels, and referred to themselves as a café.40 Cafés were, as will be established below, typically lower class dining establishments more closely associated with business from travellers. The use of the term "restaurant" was also used more frequently in a more urbanized context and was less likely to be used in rural areas than the term "café." "Dining room" refered exclusively to dining establishments that were part of hotels. The differences among these three terms has implications for class, gender, and race that will be examined in the next chapter. For now, the implications of these terms will be examined in strictly a geographical and business sense. It should be noted that Henderson’s Directories, which will be frequently used throughout this work, used the term “restaurant” to apply to cafés and lunch counters as well as restaurants as defined here.41 Regardless of the terms used to describe the various places where people could eat out, all fall under the broad umbrella of public dining.
Café without the accent on the 'e' will be used when referring to the proper names of establishments that themselves forwent the proper French spelling or when quoting advertisements in newspapers that do not include the accented 'e'. 41
Henderson’s Directories, 1885-1920, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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Regulating and Licensing Public Dining In 1899 The Calgary Weekly Herald reported on an ongoing fight that pitted Calgary hotel owners and the Baptist Young Peoples Union against applicants for saloon licenses. On 16 February 1899 the front page of the Herald read “IT WAS LIKE OLD TIMES” “The Question of Saloon Licenses Creates Uproar.” The council meeting held the night before had focused on the question of restaurant and saloon licensing, centring on the requests of James Dupen of the Prince of Wales restaurant and W. H. Heald who had written the council to ask that their applications for a liquor license be addressed. Heald’s letter stated “that he was prepared to put up any reasonable security to guarantee that he would conduct a respectable restaurant and an orderly establishment.” The Young Peoples Union from the Baptist church presented a petition of 280 names “praying that the applications be not granted.” On the side of the Young Peoples Union were the city’s hotel owners, of which the Herald noted, “some people doubtless thought it strange that the hotel keepers and temperance people should be side by side on the question.”42 The benefit of siding with the temperance movement on the issue of saloons licencing on the part of the hotel keepers was due to the challenges of making money in the hotel business. Providing accommodation for the public was not as lucrative as it seemed; the hoteliers argued that they had dropped “part of their business to eastern prices. Twenty-five cents for meals left little or no profit.”43 The argument of the hotel owners centered on their knowledge of the difficulty that it was to turn a profit as a small business. As Michael Bliss noted in A Living
“It Was Like Old Times,” The Calgary Weekly Herald, 16 February 1899, 1, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
“It Was Like Old Times,” The Calgary Weekly Herald, 16 February 1899, 1, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. The drop in meal prices was most likely done to attract clientele. 43
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Profit, “Business men who worked hard, dealt honestly, and lived frugally, but still did not make money, were business failures.”44 The licenses that were proposed by Dupen and Heald allowed for a bar to be attached to a restaurant without the provisioning of accommodation. The alderman who had presented and signed the petition “did not see that Calgary required any further bar accommodation,” and on behalf of the city’s minsters and mothers “he appealed to the council not to grant licenses for opening more places of allurement in the city.”45 While the hoteliers in this case were on the side of temperance, it was not due to a belief in the evil of imbibing liquor. Saloons or restaurants that could serve liquor would have been detrimental to the city’s hotels’ monopoly on the service of alcohol, one of the most profitable aspects of their business. Forming something akin to a coalition with the temperance supporters and other hoteliers helped to ensure that competition from restaurants would not infringe on their business ventures.46 When the Dominion of Canada purchased Rupert’s Land in 1869, alcohol was banned from the newly named North-West Territories.47 As more settlers moved to the West, it became impossible to enforce a total ban on alcohol in the region, and in 1891, the federal government repealed the prohibitory law in favour of a “new act allowing for licensed saloons and regulations like those in other provinces.” In 1906 and 1913, legislation surrounding alcohol consumption was amended, and in the Prairie Provinces, like the rest of Canada, there was an attempt “to make public drinking places more respectable… licence fees were cranked up… the
Michael Bliss, A Living Profit: Studies in the Social History of Canadian Business, 1883-1911 (Toronto: McClelland and Steward, 1974), 32. 45
“It Was Like Old Times,” The Calgary Weekly Herald, 16 February 1899, 1, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Bliss, A Living Profit
Craig Heron, Booze: A Distilled History (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2003), 135.
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number of licences was reduced or licences were made more difficult to obtain.” In some provinces women were banned from working in barrooms, bartenders had to obtain licences, and hours of operation were shortened. From 1918 to 1919, a Canada-wide ban on public drinking closed saloons and clubs, “and alcohol was banned from hotels, boarding houses, and businesses.”48 The introduction of The Restaurant Act to Alberta in 1922 was related to prohibition and a larger movement of provincial and federal governments after the First World War to increase intervention in the economy did not have a great effect on the day-to-day operations of public dining establishments.49 Prior to 1922 restaurants fell under municipal bylaws and were licensed by the municipality in which they operated. Before prohibition, alcohol was only served in structures with rooms attached. This meant that bars, saloons, and beer parlours were almost always public rooms within hotels.50 The Restaurant Act was created to “license, regulate and control restaurants and other places where refreshments are sold.” Under the act, restaurant refered to any building, house, store, booth, stall or erection whatsoever used for purpose of the business of selling food or drink to be consumed in or about the premises where the same is sold, and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, includes every refreshment house, public dining room, public lunch room, public tea room, café, ice cream parlour, buffet and soft drink bar.51
Heron, Booze, 163, 175, 180.
The Restaurant Act, 1922. While this study intends to include a broader geographical region than what is now Alberta, the majority of source material comes from archives within the province. As this is the case, it is important to address the province’s “Restaurant Act” of 1922. Doug Ramesy and John Everitt, “Called to the Bar: An Historical Geography of Beverage Rooms in Brandon, 1881-1966,” in Manitoba History, Vol. 56 (Winnipeg: The Manitoba Historical Society, Oct. 2007), online source. 50
The Restaurant Act, 1922.
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After 1 June 1922 no restaurant was allowed to operate without first obtaining a license to do so, and anyone found in violation of The Liquor Act, The Criminal Code as it related to gaming houses, or The Opium and Drug Act would be shut down and their license revoked. The newly licensed establishments were required to “be kept in a clean and sanitary condition” and to remove all screens and partitions that hindered a total view of the establishment’s interior serving area. In this context, the term “restaurant” is an inclusive one, generally referring to places serving food and non-alcoholic beverages. Notably, the act did not apply to any railway companies, any restaurant being served for solely charitable purposes, or to restaurants in connections with agricultural fairs or exhibitions.52 The regulations created under The Restaurant Act made it clear that “public” (likely meant to be directed at those associated with hotels) dining rooms, tea rooms, and lunch rooms, were not exempt from this regulation and would no longer be permitted to serve alcohol.53 Strict provincial licensing required the full name of the applicant and a “precise description of the premises upon which it is intended to conduct a restaurant, describing the exact location and the situation and dimensions thereof.”54 These records would help to ensure adherence to the new regulations and make it easier to track those who violated The Liquor Act, “the provisions of The Criminal Code relating to gaming houses or gambling, or the provisions of The Opium and Drug Act of the Dominion of Canada” in their establishments. The Restaurant Act expanded the prohibition of liquor to hotels and formalized its continued exclusion from restaurant menus. As liquor had already been excluded from
The Restaurant Act, 1922.
The Restaurant Act, 1922.
The Restaurant Act, 1922.
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restaurants in Western Canada, the aims of the business to provide good food at competitive prices continued much as it had been since the 1899 conflict between the hoteliers and restauranteurs who had wanted to share in the profits alcohol sales offered. It is clear that Western Canadian restaurants and eating habits were not affected in the same way or to the same extent that American’s were due to prohibition.55 In Harvey Levenstein’s book, Revolution at the Table, he argues that the effects of Prohibition in 1920 on American eating habits were “felt primarily where eating is most visible: restaurants,” though it was only one of many forces changing how people ate in the United States after 1920.56 Levenstein explains that the impact of prohibition on high-class restaurants and hotel dining rooms was primarily economic; “great prewar hotels and restaurants relied on their bars for most of their profits, charging modestly for rooms and serving generous portions of food made with first-class ingredients at or below cost to attract customers who would also order high-margin wines and spirits.” The financial impact of prohibition led many restaurants to either close their doors or to abandon French cooking, much of which required wine.57 Further, prohibition helped restaurants that were already focussed on serving lower and middle class clients to expand their operations.58 Cafeterias and lunch counters that had been benefitting from the growing population of men and women who worked in offices and lived in small apartments at the turn of the century further benefited from the elimination of free lunches at saloons that had closed due to prohibition. Offering quick, fixed menus for lunch and dinner at low prices Ramesy and Everitt, “Called to the Bar,” online. Prior to provincially enforced prohibition, alcohol was only legally consumed in drinking establishments attached to rooms. 55
Harvey Levenstein, Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 183. 57
Lenenstein, Revolution at the Table, 183-4.
Levenstein, Revolution at the Table, 185.
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made dining out more affordable for the growing urban population with an increasing disposable income.59 The process of public dining that existed in the primarily rural Canadian West appears to have been notably similar to how urban Americans increasingly began to dine after the introduction of prohibition in 1920; the urban office workers sought quick lunches in the same way that railway travellers and farmers looked for simple and cheap food during a brief stay in town. In a largely bachelor and transient society, people looked for what they did not have easy access to for themselves—relief “from the burdens of food preparation [and] opportunities to socialize,” much in the same way that “clerks and shopkeepers who lived alone or with friends in small flats or rooming houses” frequented restaurants in Manhattan that served “hot meals at fixed prices.”60
Good Food at Reasonable Prices Cafés and restaurants in Western Canada advertised themselves in Henderson’s Directories and in local newspapers. With the knowledge that patrons wanted good food at reasonable prices, restaurants directly advertised their offerings with this in mind. Several Edmonton restaurants competed for business using advertisements in the Henderson’s Directories for 1905. The Newfoundland Restaurant on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton advertised “a first-class meal at popular prices,” and the Monte Carlo Café, also on Jasper Avenue, semipoetically advertised “The Best Meals in the City and Served at Popular Prices Give it a Trial and See for Yourself. For something tasty and nice, go to the MONTE CARLO.” “Just North of
Levenstein, Revolution at the Table, 185-7.
Levenstein, Revolution at the Table, 190, 186.
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Jasper Ave.” the Criterion Restaurant advertised itself as a well known business with “The Best of Everything at Reasonable Prices.”61 Five years earlier, the Criterion had advertised its success in the Edmonton Bulletin. “The Dinner Trade,” it claimed, “We are getting it, and if a good square meal for 25c. is an inducement, we fill the bill. The only house with a short-order Bill of Fare. Ladies come here for your Afternoon Tea. Meals 15c. and up.”62 In the large American cities, “quick lunch establishments provided meals to middleincome urbanites unable to get home for the traditional midday dinner – the most substantial meal of the day – these establishments put a premium on speed, not quality or service.”63 These establishments focused on city workers, but as the urban middle-class grew, Americans were encouraged to “engage actively in the public life of their cities.” In Turning the Tables, Andrew Haley links the rise of middle-class dining establishments, like lunch counters, with the increased number of people living in “small apartments or residential hotels without kitchens,” bachelors tired of the invariable fare at their boarding houses, “young women earning independent living,” and shoppers who were not willing to travel home for a meal.64 By the time urbanization was beginning in the Canadian West, dining habits in North America had already changed; “midday dinners shrank in size and importance… and the evening meal, the formal dinner, rose in significance,” with the later hour allowing husbands to return home for dinner.65
Henderson Directories, Henderson's Manitoba and Northwest Territories gazetteer and directory, (Winnipeg: Henderson Directory Co, 1905), 448, 446, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. As another British colony, the Newfoundland Restaurant harkens to ties between Canada and the broader Empire. 62
“The Dinner Trade,” Edmonton Bulletin, June 15, 1900, 3.
Andrew P. Haley, Turning the Tables: Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 70. 64
Haley, Turning the Tables, 71.
Haley, Turning the Tables, 72.
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The appeal of the lunch counter and restaurants in cities like Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg was similar to their appeal in large American cities and they gained their business from similar strata of society. Lina Beavers and her husband Roy moved to Calgary in October of 1911 from the United States to start a café that would eventually become one of the longest lasting public dining establishments in the city.66 Mrs. Beavers’ diary provided insight into the Beavers’ dining habits after they first arrived in Calgary. While it is not clear if they were living in a hotel, it is evident that the Beavers did not initially have access to a kitchen. On October 17th Mrs. Beavers’ wrote, “We got up at 8:30 + went down town to breakfast… We went out to dinner” and again on the 20th wrote, “Got up late. Walked down to breakfast… I sewed until suppertime. Roy came for me + we went to supper.” While she did not note where they went for breakfast or supper, Mrs. Beavers’ was clearly looking for a more appropriate lodging, writing on the 26th that she could not “find a suitable room for housekeeping.” The next day she wrote, “Found a room where we can cook,” and on
Counter, Club Cafe, Calgary, Alberta, circa 1920, NA-2768-18, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB. Roy Beavers’ Club Cafe operated a lunch counter and a sit down restaurant. Notable are the male customers, likely on lunch from downtown jobs, and the exclusively male serving staff. Combining a fast, lunch hour service for office workers and CPR travellers from the station a street over with a slower option for more leisurely dinning was a factor in the long-time success of the Club Café.
“Beavers family fonds,” Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB, http://www.glenbow.org/collections/search/findingAids/archhtm/beavers.cfm#series1. 66
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the 28th she spent the day gathering her supplies “for a new attempt at light house keeping in one room.” The next day Mrs. Beavers’ wrote, “I fooled around cook-ing most of the day. I sure enjoyed it and we ate real hearty.”67 Clearly a restaurant of some kind had the business of the new urban immigrants in Calgary though it was also apparent that a woman like Mrs. Beavers’ did not want to become reliant upon eating out. While Haley would suggest that newlyweds like the Beavers were an important part of the rise of restaurant culture in America, Mrs. Beavers’ diary suggested that their business was temporary – she wanted to be able to cook for her own family. Her husband’s café did better business focusing on serving businessmen lunches and dinner to bachelors.68 In 1912, Calgary’s Belmont Cafe advertised its full menu and a deal offering patrons “SEVEN DOLLAR MEAL TICKETS FOR SIX DOLLARS AND TWENTY-FIVE CENTS.”69 For restaurants in areas like Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, offering meal tickets or operating lunch counters allowed them to profit from the increasing number of urban middle class who worked downtown in growing office buildings. The Grill Cafe in Edmonton offered meal tickets at six dollars for twenty-one meals; breakfast, lunch, or dinner, each of which would cost thirty-five cents without the ticket. Buying a meal ticket saved customers $1.35 and gave them four extra meals, and provided the proprietor, R. H. Ansell, guaranteed customers.70
Beavers family fonds, Lina’s Diary, 1911, Glenbow Archives.
Beavers family fond, “Counter, Club Cafe, Calgary, Alberta,” circa 1920, Image NA-2768-18, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB. 68
“Belmont Cafe,” Calgary Herald, 11 March 1912, 8.
The Saturday News, 13 October 1906, 4, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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At the Prince Arthur Cafe, “Shaw, Layet & Co.” offered “Business men’s lunch from 12 to 2 p.m.” and “service a la carte all hours of the day.”71 Offering items “a la carte” or short order allowed businesses to serve customers at all hours of the day, rather than limiting them to serving only at meal hours off of a set menu. Joe Fife of Edmonton opened a lunch room and café in 1907, making “a specialty of serving quick meals and night lunches” and serving “a merchant’s midday lunch” for what he claimed to be “the best 25 cent meal to be had in the city.”72 In competition with each other, restauranteurs had to advertised their assets, be it service day and night, a la carte meals, meal tickets, or the best food in town, in hopes that they would find themselves successful. Even through all these efforts, no business owner was ensured of security or certainty of success. Restauranteurs “could be hard-working, honest, and thrifty” but still lose business to competitors “who were wealthier, more efficient, or less scrupulous.”73
On the Right Side of the Tracks Urban centres like Calgary and Winnipeg were more likely to have businesses specifically called restaurants, while most small towns were in possession of a café or hotel dining room.74 Very connected to the needs of travellers, The English Cafe was located across from the CPR station on Ross Avenue in Red Deer.75 Many of the goings-on at the English Cafe
The Saturday News, 22 September 1906, 7, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
The Saturday News, 4 May 1907, 6, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Bliss, A Living Profit, 53-54.
A search of Peel’s Prairie Provinces collection of Henderson’s Directories from 1900-1920 reveals that the term “cafe” was favoured over the use of the more formal “restaurant.” In the Alberta directories for 1911, 1914, 1924 and 1928, “cafe” had 1511 hits while “restaurant” was used only 755 times. In the Calgary directories from 19001920, “cafe” was used 2015 times and “restaurant” only 260 times. Other regions reflect this word useage. 74
Red Deer News, March 3, 1909, Page 5, Item Ad00501_12, Peel’s Prairie Provinces; Canada’s Historic Places, http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=1719 75
were reported in the Red Deer News’s “Local & General” feature and the café advertised regularly in the paper. In November of 1906, proprietor F.A. Sage used the local column to let citizens know that the English Cafe, under new management, offered quality meals “served at regular hours for 25 cents” with “Short orders between meal hours served from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.”76 Later that month, the column noted that “Hot Lunch, awaits those going by train” at the café.77 Sage was clearly focusing his efforts on encouraging patronage from rail travellers; the short order menu between meal services and long hours provided customers with convenient food before, after, or during their rail journey. Short orders were likely a service that the English Cafe offered that the Alberta Hotel across the street could not.78 Advertising in the “Local & General” feature in the Red Deer News in June of 1909, patrons were made aware that “Owing to alteration in Train Service the English Cafe during the summer months will close on Sundays after arrival of Train going south until 9:30pm.”79 These notes make it very apparent that the primary reason for the café to offer long hours and short order menus in addition to regular dining hours was the proximity of the train station and the reliance upon the traffic generated by railway patrons. The Newfoundland Restaurant in Edmonton, advertised in the 1905 Henderson's Manitoba and Northwest Territories gazetteer and directory’s “Special Advertising Department” under hotels and restaurants. Proprietor Quong Lung advertised his business as “The Strangers
Red Deer News, “Local & General,” November 6, 1906, Page 8, Item Ar00802, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Red Deer News, “Local & General,” November 20, 1906, Page 8, Item Ar00802, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Red Deer News, “Local & General,” January 23, 1906, Page 9, Item Ad00901_8, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Red Deer News, “Local & General,” June 16, 1909, Page 6, Item Ar00602, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Rest.[aurant],” “Open Day and Night.”80 The use of the term “strangers,” along with what was likely 24-hour service, made it apparent that public dining establishments during this period were more likely to find business from travellers than from locals. Proprietors were aware of this fact and clearly advertised to an out of town audience. In addition, Henderson’s combination of hotels and restaurants in one advertisement section further demonstrates the dependency of restaurants on patrons who were also looking for a temporary lodging in hotels where they would be unable to cook for themselves. The customers attracted to public rooms of hotels were more likely to be men. The Windsor and Victoria Hotels advertised fine wines and superior liquors and cigars, The Gold House’s location “Close to business part of town,” and the Queen’s Hotel’s advertising that “Commercial Men find the Queen’s their Home” and a “Billiard Room and Barber Shop in connection” were directly aimed at men – all of whom were able to find something to eat in hotel dining rooms and at nearby restaurants.81 In the same 1905 Henderson’s Directory, Calgarians advertised their restaurants, hotels, and boarding houses under the same “Special Advertising Department.” The Dominion and Grand Central Hotels, and their dining rooms, took care to note their location was opposite the C.P.R. Depot and C.P.R. Gardens, and Calgary’s Queen’s Hotel advertised that “‘Bus Meets All Trains.” The Royal Hotel, located a block away from the train station offered patrons a connection with the Criterion Restaurant a few doors down the street.82 While hotel dining rooms had their boarders as guaranteed clientele and the added appeal of alcohol, stand alone
Henderson Directories, Henderson's Manitoba and Northwest Territories gazetteer and directory, (Winnipeg: Henderson Directory Co, 1905), 441, 448, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. 81
Henderson Directories, Henderson's Manitoba and Northwest Territories gazetteer and directory, (Winnipeg: Henderson Directory Co, 1905), 445-448, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. 82
Henderson Directories, Henderson's Manitoba and Northwest Territories gazetteer and directory, (Winnipeg: Henderson Directory Co, 1905), 207-212, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
restaurants and cafés, like the Newfoundland Restaurant and the Criterion, relied upon walk-in patrons, making their business more volatile and a less reliable form of income.
Itinerant Restauranteurs Much like the earlier tavern trade in the Upper Canada frontier, restaurants on the Western Canadian frontier differed “in one important respect from the metropolitan model: aside from the material limitations imposed by a new colonial setting, most tavern-keepers [restaurant owners in this case] spent less than five years in the trade.”83 Like many other small business ventures, public dining establishments did not always provide owners with enough profit to be successful or even live.84 In In Mixed Company, Julia Roberts also notes that “railways reinforced established patterns of urban growth, enabling a handful of principle taverns to benefit from the accelerated pace of travel… [they were] built purposely for the new trade, giving birth to the ‘monster hotels’ that emerged in the 1850s.”85 The processes of owning, operating, and patronising taverns in the colonial frontier of Upper Canada was, for the most part, repeated again in the Western Canadian context. The public dining establishments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba were built to serve a largely transient population who moved by rail and the owners of these establishments themselves do not appear to have been sedentary. On July 28th, 1909 the “Local & General” column in Red Deer News provided its readership with notice that “Mr. and Mrs. Sage, who conducted the English Cafe, have closed up their business here, and will remove to Calgary where they will conduct a large boarding
Julia Roberts, In Mixed Company: Taverns and Public Life in Upper Canada (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009), 16.
Bliss, A Living Profit.
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 62.
house.”86 The Sages had taken the café over in November of 1906 from the previous proprietor, J.C. Brazier, and not quite three years later, were themselves selling the café.87 A week later, on the 4 August 1909, the Red Deer News stated: "The English Cafe re-opens to-day under new auspices, as Mrs. E.A. Clarke and Miss B. Webb will conduct the business in future.”88 One year after the notification that Clarke and Webb had taken over, an auction notice appeared in the paper stating that auctioneer and real estate agent Frank Mott had instructions from Mrs. Clarke and Miss Webb to “sell by public auction as they are giving up the business, all the furniture and fittings they have used in carrying on the business at the English Cafe’ [sic].”89 Within five years, the English Cafe had changed hands three times, which was not an unusual occurrence, and spoke to the challenges of making a living in the restaurant industry. Local newspapers across the Prairies most frequently mentioned dining establishments (in particular cafés) in advertisements, as locations for social events, and when they changed ownership or closed. The Lomond Press reported on the town’s Commercial Cafe’s change of management five times between 1917 and 1918. In April of 1917 the “Localets” column informed the readership that “Mr. Doughty of Calgary, arrived in town on Tuesday evening and took over the restaurant at the Commercial Cafe from Mrs. Greenwood” who would be opening a new business in a new location.90 By the end of 1917, the column reported the third operator to
Red Deer News, “Local & General,” July 28, 1909, Page 8, Item Ar00802, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Red Deer News, “Local & General,” November 6, 1906, Page 8, Item Ar00802, Peel’s Prairie Provinces; Red Deer News, “Local & General,” January 23, 1906, Page 9, Item Ad00901_8, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. 87
Red Deer News, “Local & General,” August 4, 1909, Page 8, Item Ar00802, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Red Deer News, “Frank Mott, The Reliable Auctioneer & Real Estate Agent,” August 3, 1910, Page 1, Ad00102_3, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. 89
Lomond Press, April 13, 1917, Page 1, Item Ar00103, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
take over the Commercial Cafe that year, M.D. Elliot.91 1918 also saw the Commercial Cafe pass through three different owners. In May the “Localets” noted that the café “opened again on Wednesday under new management,” likely a Mrs. Knight who listed herself at the Commercial Cafe when the paper advertised her sale of “Two full-sized beds” in early August.92 The sale of Mrs. Knight’s beds seems to have been shortly followed by the sale of the café for the second time that year; in September of 1918 the Lomond Press noted that the café had re-opened with a Mrs. Johnson in charge.93 However, like the four owners previous to her, Mrs. Johnson moved on from the café in short order. Before the year was out the Commercial was advertising itself under the new management of R.J. Cowell.94 While the Commercial Cafe in Lomond underwent what was an abnormally large number of management changes over a short period of time, changes in café ownership every few years, as were noted for the English Cafe, were fairly common. Typically, these changes were mentioned without much fanfare in local newspapers. Reports like the ones stating that Mrs. Greenwood had sold the Lomond Commercial Café in 1917 and had plans to open up a novelty goods store in town and that the Sages’ had “many friends in Red Deer who regret their removal from town” do not appear to have been typical.95 It is likely that these specific editorial comments were related to the length of time that the subjects in question were part of the community, as most comments on café changes in newspapers usually elicited nothing more than
Lomond Press, December 28, 1917, Page 1, Item Ar00102, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Lomond Press, August 2, 1918, Page 4, Item Ad00401_3, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Lomond Press, August 2, 1918, Page 4, Item Ad00401_3, Peels’ Prairie Provinces.
Lomond Press, December 27, 1918, Page 2, Item Ad00203_1, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Red Deer News, “Local & General,” July 28, 1909, Page 8, Item Ar00802, Peel’s Prairie Provinces; Lomond Press, March 16, 1917, Page 1, Item Ar00103, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. 95
a line in the paper that the local café was under new management. The fairly consistent changes in café management in the late-19th and early-20th centuries suggests that keeping a public dining establishment was not an easily profitable business for many, and that the owners were as itinerant as those they served. Reliance upon an inconsistent customer demographic, and on the leisure time and the small disposable income of locals was a further challenge to making a living profit from restaurant ownership. The lack of commentary or explanation from newspaper editors as one proprietor replaced another suggests that the volatile nature of the public dining business was just reality of businesses during that period.96 The challenging nature of the restaurant business, which persists to this day, is further evidenced in Henderson’s Directories for Winnipeg and the North-West Territories from the periods leading up to and directly after the creation of Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905. In 1880, the directory listed four Winnipeg establishments and one St. Albert, N.W.T establishments under the heading of “Restaurants.”97 By 1905 the number of establishments listed under the restaurants heading in Winnipeg had increased in number to over fifty and in the North West Territory Henderson’s Directories the number had increased to over 150.98 The expansion of public dining in the West mirrored its increasing population, professionalization, and urbanization. While public dining establishments frequently changed management and relied upon travellers for their profit, they also “served as informal meeting places, providing an important
Bliss, A Living Profit.
Henderson’s Directories, Henderson’s Directory of the City of Winnipeg and Incorporated Towns of Manitoba (Winnipeg: Henderson Directories, 1880), 148. 97
Henderson’s Directories, Henderson’s Winnipeg City Directory (Winnipeg: Henderson Directories: 1905), 12561257; Henderson’s Directories, Henderson’s Manitoba and Northwest Territories Gazetteer and Directory, (Winnipeg: Henderson Directories, 1905), 1473-1475. 98
social opportunity for townspeople and hinterland visitors.”99 Along with noting when public dining establishments closed up shop or opened under new management, local newspapers mentioned restaurants and cafés when community groups gathered for meetings and when special visitors to town were entertained at the local café. While restaurants did not often find financial success, they did find success in fostering connections with their communities as public spaces.
Community Meeting Places The Red Deer News frequently reported on community sporting events, many of which, like the lawn tennis club, “adjourned to the English Cafe where a pleasant time was enjoyed.”100 In February of 1909 a hockey game between the School Girls and Amazons in which “the School Girls put it over the Amazons 1-0” ended with the girls having supper at the English Cafe.101 It appears that the socialization that occurred after the games at the English Cafe was important enough to include in reports on the games; eating out was clearly linked with special occasions. Red Deer’s Curling Club also met frequently at the English Cafe. In 1908 the club president defeated the vice president (whether in an annual election or in a curling competition is unclear) “and the vices put up an oyster supper for the rest of the club at the English Cafe” where a “most enjoyable evening was spent.”102 The next year the “President, Vice President Competition supper” was advertised in the paper, noting that “The Cups will be presented to the
Donald G. Wetherell and Irene R.A. Kmet, Town Life: Main Street and the Evolution of Small Town Alberta, 1880-1947 (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1995), 227. 100
Red Deer News, 14 August 1907, 8, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Red Deer News, 24 February 1909, 6, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Red Deer News, 8 January 1908, 1, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
winning rinks and an organization meeting for 1909-10 will also be held.”103 A week later the banquet was reported: The members of the Red Deer Curling Club, to the number of about forty, enjoyed a banquet on Friday evening last, the occasion being the President – Vice President supper, which was provided by R. C. Brumpton, Vice President of the club, as the loser in the interesting series of games.104 For the curling club, eating out was a special occasion; and it was made more exciting by making payment the responsibility of the loser of an annual bet between the president and vice president over curling matches. The English Cafe, under the ownership of the Sages, also catered community events outside of its building. “The Laymen’s Supper” held in 1908 “by the Executive of the Lay Missionary movement in Red Deer” in a store occupied by R. C. Brumpton (of the curling club) was one such event. The Red Deer News recounted that the room “was nicely fitted up with flags and bunting. Mr. and Mrs. Sage, of the English Cafe, provided the supper, to which all [did] ample justice.” At the meeting, addresses were heard on the “Missionary movement” from the association’s local chair, several Calgarian association members, and local ministers of varying Protestant denominations. Of the supper, the paper reported that it was provided “in a most artistic manner” and served by the Sages with assistance from several community ladies.105 “One of the most successful social events of the season took place at the English Cafe” and was reported on in the February 12, 1908 edition of Red Deer News. Mrs. Sage and Mrs. J. A. Lewis hosted “upwards of fifty ladies and gentlemen” who had answered invitations to play progressive whist. There was a short break for refreshments during the evening, and the invitees
Red Deer News, 28 April 1909, 6, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Red Deer News, 5 May 1909, 1, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
“The Laymen’s Supper,” Red Deer News, 25 November 1908, 5, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
played twenty-five games of whist until early the next morning. Prizes were given out to the winning players, and “Captain Cottingham thanked Mrs. Sage and the ladies who had assisted her, for the enjoyable evening they had spent.”106 In this context, the English Cafe operated as a community space as well as a commercial one. When the “Local & General” column of the Red Deer News informed its readership that the Sages would be moving on the reporter also commented that “Mr. and Mrs. Sage have many friends in Red Deer who regret their removal from town. Mrs. Sage was one of the best workers in St. Lukes’ [sic] Ladies’ Guild.”107 It was clear that the restauranteurs’ involvement in their community during their almost three-year ownership of the English Cafe was clearly appreciated, and was valued as an important public social space.
Feeding Social, Political, and Intellectual Association When cafés and coffeehouses emerged in Europe to serve the rising middle classes who “sought new centers of sociability outside exclusive aristocratic courts,” they became the “hub of an emerging public sphere, where people freely voiced opinions on business, the arts, and politics.”108 In Paris, cafés had been important place of spreading culinary culture, becoming places where workers could socialize.109 When they were introduced to England during the height of Puritan influence in around 1650, coffeehouses and coffee quickly replaced beer as the favoured beverage of businessmen who came to drink the stimulating beverage while conducting
“Local and General,” Red Deer News, 12 February 1908, 8, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
“Local & General,” Red Deer News, 28 July 1909, 8, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Jeffery Pilcher, Food in World History (New York: Routledge, 2005), chapter 4, Kindle edition.
Jeffery Pilcher, Food in World History, chapter 4, Kindle edition.
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deals.110 In Alberta’s new capital city, cafés played an important in the political and social life of the city. In the same way that coffee and teahouses would have earlier been associated with the sobriety of the bourgeoisie, meeting with associates or holding an event at a café or restaurant as opposed to a hotel barroom or saloon would have been in tune with the rising prevalence of the temperance movement in Canada during the early 1900s.111 In the more traditional coffeehouse sense, the Alberta Cafe on Jasper Avenue played a role in the political socialization of the province.112 The Saturday News’ feature, “From the Press Galleries” on 31 March 1906 wrote of the goings on of the new Members of the Legislative Assembly, reporting that “Social functions, as was to be expected, are playing a large part in the life of the members. The dinner given by the Speaker at the Alberta Cafe on Monday night was the pleasantest possible kind of an affair.” The paper also commented on the “excellence of the repast provided by Mr. Cronn and the beauty of the table decorations” and recorded the attendants at the dinner, who included Alexander Rutherford.113 A week later, the paper reported that Mr. Cronn had purchased the café he occupied for $15,000 and Cronn’s plans to renovate were simultaneously announced. A foundation was to be built under the building where a large grill room would be installed, and two dining rooms were to be added on the upper floor. This would, according to the Saturday News “give Edmonton an establishment on an equality with those of a similar kind in the large eastern cities.”114 Along with the Alberta Cafe, the Prince
Pilcher, Food in World History, chapter 4, Kindle edition.
Pilcher, Food in World History, chapter 4, Kindle edition.
The Saturday News, 3 November 1906, 7, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
“From the Press Gallery,” The Saturday News, 31 March 1906, 3, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
“About Town,” The Saturday News, 7 April 1906, 11, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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Arthur Cafe in Edmonton provided Alberta with reputable social meeting places for the rising intellectual and political members of the population, as well as good food. On the 27th of October 1906, The Saturday News featured a full page spread dedicated to “The Prince Arthur Cafe.” Photographs of the interior of the restaurant’s main dining room and several private dining rooms show the elegance and care that was used to furnish the cafe; palm trees in the photographs suggest that the proprietors wanted to bring an element of exoticism into their establishment and the lamp Saturday News, Oct. 27, 1906, p.14, item Ar014002, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. The article on The Prince Arthur Cafe featured pictures of the newly opened and modern dining establishment.
fixtures hanging from the ceiling show that the establishment is
indeed as modern as those in Eastern cities. Like Calgary’s Club Cafe, the Prince Arthur also operated a lunch counter that profited from downtown businessmen. The private dining rooms offered spaces for private parties, including one decorated to appeal to the tastes of ladies wishing to take tea. The article boasted, “the cafe itself is particularly well suited for the holding
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of social gatherings of all descriptions. It has already been the scene of one of the most notable dances in Edmonton’s social history.”115 Unlike the English Café in Red Deer, which had numerous co-ed events, the Prince Arthur Cafe was typically mentioned in association with farewell dinners held in honour of businessmen. On 3 November 1906 the Saturday News reported that, a “Mr. Fred Stacey, until recently engaged at the City Power house was on Tuesday evening entertained to an informal dinner by a few friends,” at the café.116 A little over a month later, on 22 December 1906, the same paper’s personal column noted that a Mr. Dickson of the North American Real Estate Company “entertained a number of his friends at the Prince Arthur Cafe” before leaving on an extended trip.117 The Prince Arthur Cafe also hosted important banquets for a few large clubs. Particular mention was made in the Saturday News of the formation of “Canadian Clubs” in Edmonton and Calgary that the paper had itself encouraged. The organization was launched at the Prince Arthur Cafe during a noon lunch, and it was the intention of the member to “hold a noonday luncheon every two weeks,” with the committee being able to call meetings whenever desirable. The Canadian Club would also provide Edmontonians and Calgarians with the opportunity to host distinguished visitors who, the club founders believed, “pass through without receiving any attention whatever.”118 The club’s regular luncheons and the dinners for important visitors to the province provided business for the Canadian Clubs’ founding location; a little less than a month later the Edmonton Bulletin included an article featuring a “Historical and Reminiscent Sketch of
“The Prince Arthur Cafe,” The Saturday News, 27 October 1906, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
“Here and There,” The Saturday News, 3 November 1906, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
“Personal,” The Saturday News, 22 December 1906, 11, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
“The Canadian Clubs,” The Saturday News, 22 December 1906, 6, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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the Canadian West Since the Earliest of the Early Days. Delivered before the Canadian Club at their Regular Semi-Monthly Luncheon in the Prince Arthur Cafe.”119
A Volatile Endeavour Almost exactly a year after the Saturday News featured the Prince Arthur Cafe, it was reported that it had “again closed its doors,” in spite of the numerous mentions the café had been given in the paper in relation to community social events.120 Clearly even cafes, like the Prince Arthur and English, whose owners created connections with their community by opening their doors to groups and events, were not immune to the challenges of the restaurant business. Public dining establishments in the West, for the most part, found their business from travellers and bachelors who either had no access to cooking facilities or no desire to cook for themselves. Cafés, lunch counters, and restaurants presented a front of respectability to a rising political and intellectual elite and a growing urban middle class that hotel barrooms did not. Cafés played an important part in community socialisation, acting as centres of community interaction. Though eating out regularly was a feature of urban living, the rise of restaurants in the West followed the rise of the population and the patterns of a frontier that was rapidly changing. Public dining establishments reflected the changing demographics of the West, and the people that they served reflected the influence of societal expectations and affected the reputation of the establishment and those who ate there.
“John A. McDougall’s Address to the Canadian Club,” The Edmonton Bulletin, 15 January 1907, 6. Peel’s Prairie Provinces. 119
“About Town,” The Saturday News, 19 October 1907, 4, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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Chapter 2: Interactions in Public Dining Establishments The reputations of cafés, lunch counters, dining rooms, and restaurants were based on the associations the public made with those who owned them and those who worked in them. These assumptions affected how people interacted with and within these spaces and who could acceptably dine at and be employed at them. Race, gender, and class all played an important part in how the restaurant industry evolved in Western Canada. During the frontier period, and continually in rural areas, opportunities for Chinese immigrants and women to own and run restaurants were plentiful due to the association of public dining with women’s work and the large number of bachelors who were willing to pay for the convenience of a prepared meal. 121 As the West urbanized, women found themselves excluded from the male-dominated sector of business ownership, though they could still find employment as waitresses and cooks in restaurants, cafés, and hotel dining rooms and frequently owned cafés in rural towns. White men who sought to professionalize and profit from the rise in urban middle-class consumers used racialized assumptions about Chinese immigrants to appeal to customers who saw Chinese establishments as unsafe and unclean while promoting their own whiteness.122 Participation in public dining as a consumer, employee, or owner was influenced by racial, gender, and class assumptions; these assumptions influenced how establishments portrayed themselves to and interacted with their communities. During the years surrounding the turn of the 20th century, restaurants evolved from being merely spaces that met the needs of a bachelor population to indicators of progress and modernity. In spite of the complicated intersections of gender, class, and race that occurred within them, dining establishments attempted to fulfill the complex
Cecilia Danysk, Hired Hands
Patricia Roy, A White Man’s Province, 243.
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societal expectations of public spaces by concerning themselves with maintaining respectability and proving that they were part of an emerging modern and sophisticated region and country.
Serving Women As women were expected to prepare food within the home, working in and owning restaurants would have been an acceptable way for women to participate in the public sphere and gain some opportunity for financial independence. Bringing “elements of their traditional domestic role into the public domain,” women “came out of the home to do in the public sphere what they had formerly done in the private sphere.”123 However, the possibilities for women to own cafés was fairly reliant upon the existence of the frontier; as more women and families arrived in the West, those who had come for opportunity found themselves marginalized from the public sphere and expected to return to their place within the home. Owning a business was not part of the traditionally accepted female role, but serving and preparing food continued to provide opportunities for employment as the West urbanized. Numerous women in the West were involved in providing their communities with a place for public dining. Mrs. Kellock owned and sold her own restaurant in Wetaskiwin in 1904, Mrs. E. A. Clarke and Miss B. Webb operated the English Cafe together in Red Deer in 1909, and the Commercial Cafe in Lomond was run by Mrs. Greenwood, Mrs. Knight, and Mrs. Johnson at various times throughout 1917 and 1918.124 When the Sages owned the English Cafe, Mrs. Sage appears to have been just as involved in the café as Mr. Sage based on the newspaper accounts
Mary Kinnear, A Female Economy: Women’s Work in a Prairie Province, 1870-1970 (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998), 107, 108. 123
“Town Topics,” The Wetaskiwin Times, 4 August 1914, 6; “Local & General,” Red Deer News, August 4, 1909, 8; Lomond Press, April 13, 1917, 1; Lomond Press, August 2, 1918, 4; Lomond Press, August 2, 1918, 4. 124
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that included her alongside or without him.125 In urbanizing 1911 Calgary, Lina Beavers did not actively participate in running her husband’s Club Cafe, though she did on occasion go down to the restaurant to eat or to help with the cash register, and she frequently washed the linens for the restaurant. Within her urban context, the tasks Mrs. Beavers performed were generally within the confines of female sphere.126 Like taverns in Upper Canada, restaurants in Western Canada were gendered spaces; “public life and household life in a setting where the two met, occasionally collided, and mutually shaped each other.”127 Taverns were part of women’s space in large part due to the fact that they were quite literally in their homes with their families. Traditional women’s work was easily transferable to the related tavern work of cooking, cleaning, and serving.128 Taverns existed in a pre-industrialized Canada, where work was done in the home and blurred the lines between public and private spheres; by the time mass settlement occurred in Western Canada and department stores were in their heyday, men’s work was done outside of the home, and parlours in the home had replaced the need for mixed public houses and taverns in urban settings. Female owned cafés in the West were similar to taverns as public spaces that were not entirely male. Unlike taverns, however, restaurants and cafés did not maintain rooms for lodgers, meaning that the boundaries of the domestic and public spaces were not blurred to the same extent.129 The idea of a women owning, running, and working in an establishment that
See Chapter 1.
Beavers family fonds, Glenbow Archives, Lina’s Diary, 1911. It seems likely that the lack of involvement on Lina’s part was due to her pregnancy and birth of her child at the time of the café opening. 126
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 39.
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 46-47.
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 40. Hotels, stopping houses, and boarding houses in Western Canada are spaces that simultaneously operated in public and private spheres.
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functioned purely as a public space would have still been fairly easy to accept on the basis of the idea that food and service related work fell under the realm of women’s work. As employees, single women seem to have found opportunity working in restaurants that were owned or operated by white men, in hotel dining rooms, or in establishments owned by women.130 A search through Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory for 1911 reveals several women employed as waitresses. Mary Johnson, Edna Livingston, and Eda Mathieson worked in Blairmore hotels as waitresses; in Cardston Bessie Goldie and May Kyle were also employed as hotel waitresses.131 The English Cafe in Red Deer advertised, “Girl Wanted. To Assist in the dining room,” and listed Mrs. Sage, who ran the English Cafe with her husband, as the contact. Listing Mrs. Sage as the employer implies the café was a respectable establishment for young women to find employment.132 Women also found successful employment as cooks at hotels, and were typically listed in Henderson’s Directory as “Mrs.”133 By 1924, women were more frequently listed as waitresses alongside cafes, but only if they were owned by white males or other women.134
Patricia E. Roy, A White Man’s Province: British Columbia Politicians and Chinese and Japanese Immigrants, 1858-1914 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1989), 243. There was a racialized fear that Chinese men who employed white women would use their positions as employers to sexually exploit them. 130
Henderson Directories, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory for 1911 (Winnipeg: Henderson Directories, 1911), 88, 89, 251, 252. 131
Red Deer News, 27 January 1909, 4
Henderson Directories, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory for 1911 (Winnipeg: Henderson Directories, 1911), 285. Use of “Mrs.” could suggest that the women were widowed. 133
Henderson Directories, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory for 1924 (Winnipeg: Henderson Directories, 1924), 43-? 134
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Tea, Luncheon, and Respectability As Julia Roberts explains, in Upper Canada, women had no restricted access to “mixedpublic-house gatherings… women’s presence in taverns was easily reconciled with existing patters of daily life. In household company women occupied a legitimate place in community life and its forms of public sociability.”135 This suggests that respectable women were unlikely to visit a public dining space alone, but that taverns (not saloons or bars) did not exclude women and that women did not feel unsafe in public dining spaces. During the early 1900s respectable women in Western Canada experienced public dining as consumers, frequenting lunch counters, tea rooms, and cafés with respectable owners and reputations. When the Criterion Restaurant advertised “Ladies come here for your Afternoon Tea” in the Edmonton Bulletin in 1900, it was appealing to female consumers and acknowledging the recent trend of hosting/taking tea outside of the home that had become well established in Toronto. Taking tea out of the home in Western Canada was simultaneously a demonstration of Western Canadian women’s belief that they were as sophisticated and modern as the East and a demonstration of the restaurateur’s belief that his restaurant offered a confirmation that the West was culturally equal to the rest of the country.136 In “Tea in Toronto and the Liberal Order, 18801914,” Keith Walden acknowledges the importance of tea in “propelling middle-class women into commercialized public spaces.”137 Removing tea from the domestic setting and holding it in a public space had obvious advantages and “By the turn of the century, the use of commercial premises for private teas had become unexceptional” in Toronto. Tearooms and restaurants
Roberts, In Mixed Company, 46-47.
“The Dinner Trade,” Edmonton Bulletin, June 15, 1900, 3; Keith Walden, “Tea in Toronto and the Liberal Order, 1880-1914,” The Canadian Historical Review 93, 1, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, March 2012), 19-20. 136
Walden, “Tea in Toronto and the Liberal Order,” 2.
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offered incredible convenience by providing adequate space, chairs, tables, cups and saucers, in addition to arranging the food and beverages, providing wait staff and cleaning up afterwards; tea at a restaurant also prevented the disruption of normal household routines.138 In Edmonton, the Criterion Restaurant was attempting to import the fashion that had already become popular with Torontonians and the British, and to profit from the “allure of consumption” that drew middle-class ladies downtown.139 Shopping downtown and in retail stores, like the Hudson’s Bay and Eaton’s, provided urban middle-class women with “a respectable social activity” that could be done alone, with their children, or with friends. In Retail Nation, Donica Belisle notes that before the 1920s “department stores played an important role in women’s downtown excursions” and that department store lunch counters and cafés provided women with spaces where they could dine alone or with female friends. Noting that saloons catered primarily to men, and that upscale hotel restaurants would have been acceptable place for women to dine, Belisle suggested that “most women did not feel comfortable entering these premises without a male escort.”140 This longheld assumption, which is not entirely false, does however ignore the existence of cafés, restaurants and non-department store lunch counters that would have provided a rising number of single women in urban areas with places to escape the monotony of boarding house fare.141 Belisle’s assumption also ignores the involvement of women in public dining establishments as owners and employees. While female-owned establishments were more frequently found in less
Walden, “Tea in Toronto and the Liberal Order,” 21.
Walden, “Tea in Toronto and the Liberal Order,” 23.
Donica Belisle, Retail Nation: Departments Stores and the Making of Modern Canada (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2011), 13-14. 141
Haley, Turning the Tables, 71.
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urban settings, their existence and the acceptance of female employees in restaurants, cafés, and dining rooms, suggests that women would have been welcome and felt comfortable frequenting these establishments alone. When Mrs. E. A. Clarke and Miss B. Webb took over the English Cafe in August of 1909, their gender also made it possible for them to provide a respectable place where afternoon tea could be “served to ladies.”142 The Cafe Aurora Red Deer Archives, P5604: English Cafe, 1909-1911. This photograph clearly shows that women were not excluded from public dining spaces in Western Canada. The English Cafe was operated by both Mr. and Mrs. Sage from 1907-1909, and was owned by Mrs. Clarke and Miss Webb after the Sages.
in Red Deer advertised its “delicious Sunday Dinner” and suggested that “the way to a
man’s heart is through his stomach, and we are inclined to think that is a good way to win a woman, too. At least, both men and women who are discriminating in their dining patronize the Cafe Aurora.”143 Clearly the café welcomed and encouraged female patrons. While it is certainly accurate that a respectable woman would not have been comfortable in a saloon, and that hotels in most towns and cities would have been the only establishments permitted to serve liquor and thus to have been considered more of a male public space, other forms of public dining in the West besides department stores would have offered women with perfectly acceptable dining
“Local & General,” Red Deer News, 4 August 1909, 8.
Red Deer News, 2 April 1913, 8.
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experiences. The involvement of women in the running or ownership of public dining establishments, which seems to have been more frequent in less urban settings, would likely have made them safe places for women to dine on their own. The Criterion Restaurant in Edmonton certainly felt confident in its ability to provide women with a respectable tea experience, and other cafés and restaurants in urban areas would have needed to cater to women in order to provide a growing number of young working women with public space.144
The White Cafe’s Assault on Public Decency In 1913, advertisements for the White Cafe appeared in the Redcliff Review. The café offered “meals at all hours,” and carried “the Best and Freshest Fruits in Town” along with confectionary, cigars, ice cream, and soft drinks. The establishment was owned by F. Skelcher and was on Broadway, the road parallel to the town’s Main Street.145 That summer, the White Cafe made headlines; Appearing on the front page of the Redcliff Review on June 13, 1913, was an article titled, “Poor Evidence Frees Skelcher of Bad Charge.” Skelcher had been brought in on “a charge of conducting a disrespectable house in connection with the White Cafe” by the Redcliff police chief. Earlier that week Skelcher had undergone trial for a charge of “conducting himself with indecency,” and had previously been held for “obtaining money under false pretenses,” a charge that was withdrawn. The first case of indecent behavior was brought forward by Florence Clark, a sixteen-year-old from a nearby town, and by Bertha Zurcher, “an older German girl who spoke in a broken tongue.” The girls testified to the improper conduct of Skelcher in relation to keeping a disrespectable house (likely veiled language for allowing a
“The Dinner Trade,” Edmonton Bulletin, June 15, 1900, 3.
Redcliff Review, 6 June 1913, 7, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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brothel to operate on the premise), though the article reported that they “made no statements that would strengthen the gravity of the charge.” The defendant was “let down with the nominal fine of $10, and costs.”146 The language that was used by the newspaper to describe Skelcher’s charges suggests that it believed him to have been guilty, though insufficient evidence was provided. The author of the piece suggests that the “Young Girl Who Came to Work Found She Was in Dangerous Company.”147 Putting the safety and reputation of a young girl in jeopardy, the White Cafe was seemingly no place for an innocent girl to be working, especially with a proprietor like Skelcher. The second charge against Skelcher was also thrown out, though “three witnesses gave testimony of a very damaging nature” that would have benefited the prosecution had they “been able to get facts that would connect up the evidence against the establishment” and its proprietor. Three other men were reported as having testified “to a statement made to them collectively by the defendant, which of its nature, if made by the prisoner in seriousness, bared the real character of the place.”148 The article does not make clear what the statements were, but the Redcliff Review’s reports on the issue suggests something about the nature of public dining establishments in Western Canada, mainly that they were expected to be places of decency. The fears expressed by the Review regarding indecency in its community, with Skelcher’s café as the catalyst, were further fueled by the paper’s investigative journalism and its claims of finding ample proof of at least one disorderly house and other suspects. The Review called out
“Poor Evidence Frees Skelcher of Bad Charge,” Redcliff Review, 13 June 1913, 1, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. No indication has been given to what exactly Skelcher has done, but the language used in the paper suggests that Skelcher may have been operating some kind of dance hall or brothel or permitting the selling of sex within his café. 146
“Poor Evidence Frees Skelcher of Bad Charge,” Redcliff Review, 13 June 1913, 1, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
“Poor Evidence Frees Skelcher of Bad Charge,” Redcliff Review, 13 June 1913, 1, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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the boldness of women as “Insulting; too Brazen to Escape Detection” and called for the police to “Protect Home People” by cleaning up the “clandestine prostitution in this town.” The paper cited several cases of indecent behaviour from women of “shady reputations” who were “parading the streets” and running an “immoral house.” Of Skelcher the Review wrote: Over two months ago when Frank Skelcher was up for trial on a charge of running a questionable place we were assured that not such things would live under the present regime. But they are. We argued editorially at the time that if the problem took on such complexities that it could not be handled that it would be better to recognize and provide for it under proper regulation… The home people have got to be protected.149 Skelcher’s café and trial had revealed to the community that the town was not as civilized or proper as they thought. The paper suggested that “Redcliff has been worse this last ten days than any mining camp, because a decent women in a mining camp is accorded far more respect. The institution we refer to is recognized in a mining camp and is held in its place. Here it is not recognized and the whole town is contaminated.”150 Skelcher, and others in their town, were involved in a business that was supposed to die out (or become less obvious) with the frontier. The presence of prostitution in Redcliff suggested to its upstanding citizens that their identity as citizens of a modern and sophisticated town was not true. The only way to regain their status was to rid themselves of the shady characters who were ruining their town’s reputation. Florence Clark and Bertha Zurcher were prime examples of the “pure country girls” who left their rural homes to work in urban areas.151 Skelcher’s indecent behavior confirmed the
“Painted Spectres Much in Evidence; Proof is Ample; Shakeup Needed,” Redcliff Review, 13 August 1913, 1, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. 149
“Painted Spectres Much in Evidence; Proof is Ample; Shakeup Needed,” Redcliff Review, 13 August 1913, 1, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. 150
Carolyn Strange, Toronto’s Girl Problem: The Perils and Pleasures of the City 1880-1930 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995), 99. 151
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assumption that female employees were in need of “special protection and restriction” and the minimal fine that he was made to pay was a failure of the state to prevent “the exploitation of employee by employer by insisting on certain standards of safety and decency.” 152 Permitting any kind of indecent behavior in his establishment threatened the respectability and reputation of the community. As James Gray notes in Red Lights on the Prairies, regardless of urban or rural location, “the very existence of the prostitutes was regarded as a challenge to be met head on by the dominant Anglo-Saxon Protestant churches.” Though the upstanding citizens of towns attempted to pressure law enforcement into arresting prostitutes, it was often only done after another crime occurred and only resulted in minimal fines.153 Skelcher violated the community’s expectations of him and his business, and directly assaulted the decency of Redcliff and its population. The crusade of the Redcliff Review fit within the general trends of Western moral reformers. Regardless of pointing out that “everybody knew where the brothels were” cases like Skelcher’s were challenging to prosecute due to the “divided knowledge of locations and obtaining evidence which would stand up in court.”154 Unlike the illicit women the Review wanted run out of town, to the court, Skelcher was himself not directly selling sex but merely permitting the solicitation of it to occur in his restaurant. Public institutions like the White Cafe were expected to be reputable places as symbols of rising urbanity and cultured life; especially when they employed young girls and were run by white men who called their establishments the “White Cafe.”
Mary Kinnear, A Female Economy: Women’s Work in a Prairie Province, 1870-1970 (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998), 101. 152
James Gray, Red Lights on the Prairies (Toronto: Macmillian of Canada, 1971), 13, 15.
Gray, Red Lights on the Prairies, 19.
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Chinese Restaurants as Threats to White Respectability Public dining on the Canadian Prairies was also influenced by racialized assumptions, particularly surrounding the Chinese community. As Patricia Roy noted in A White Man’s Province, “labour unions… complain[ed] of Asians employing white women and girls,” fearing that Chinese men who employed white women would use their positions as
Red Deer News, March 3, 1909, Page 5, Item Ad00501_12, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. The English Cafe in Red Deer used the racist assumption that Chinese cooks were unclean to advertised their own respectability as an establishment to the public.
employers to exploit them sexually. White men looked to “displace Asians, chiefly Chinese, in the service trades” and used their whiteness to gain economic advantages.155 Besides preying on the public’s fears of the white slave trade, restaurants and other businesses advertised themselves as employing white cooks and waiters, and found opportunities to suggest that Chinese establishments were unclean and dangerous.156 In Patterns of Prejudice, Howard Palmer suggested that the Chinese were seen as “culturally and ‘racially’ remote, and some behaviour patterns – particularly gambling and the use of opium – violated middle-class values.” Further, many Canadians felt that Chinese immigrants were a threat to “Christian religion, ethics, and progress because of their alleged illiteracy, lack of experience with self-government, and moral
Patricia E. Roy, A White Man’s Province: British Columbia Politicians and Chinese and Japanese Immigrants, 1858-1914 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1989), 243. 155
Roy, A White Man’s Province, 32.
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turpitude.”157 These threats were felt particularly keenly by urban populations, as the few Chinese families in the West were spread out across the Prairies in rural towns, while bachelor populations tended to congregate in urban Chinatowns.158 On a bachelor frontier, businesses that were associated with the domestic and female sphere like cafés and laundries provided many Chinese immigrants with the opportunity to work; however, as populations in the West urbanized, many Chinese-owned establishments and workers in the public dining industry found themselves excluded.159 In 1899, at the same time that Calgary hotel owners sided with the churches on restaurant/saloon licenses, there were several letters to the editor and news articles addressing issues related to restaurants. In a letter to the editor, James Dupen, owner of the Prince of Wales Restaurant wrote: … when I started in the restaurant business I was of the opinion that a good white man’s restaurant was needed in the City of Calgary and that the public were desirous of having a place suitable for any one to sit down and eat. I went to the expense of making my establishment suitable and convenient for those who wished to sit down comfortably and enjoy their food… My expenses every month… is $168. That amount has to be made out of 25 cent meals. I find that unless I can obtain a restaurant license I simply cannot make my expenses and my only remedy is to close up and leave the restaurant business in the hands of Chinamen.160 Dupen had clear economic objections to not being permitted a saloon, as he believed James Rielly of the Royal Hotel to have “done great injury to my night trade, for every one knows
Howard Palmer, Patterns of Prejudice: A History of Nativism in Alberta (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1982), 32-33. 158
Palmer, Patterns of Prejudice, 35.
Palmer, Patterns of Prejudice, 35. As Palmer notes, anti-Asian sentiments were less severe during the First World War, as nativist sentiment was directed towards immigrants from enemy nations. 160
James Dupen, “Restaurant Licenses,” The Calgary Weekly Herald, 7.
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where a person can get a drink with his food, that is the place he will go.” However, Dupen’s issues with Rielly were not entirely centred on the hotelier’s introduction of a restaurant in conjunction with the bar. Dupen attacked the hotel owner’s morality by mentioning that Rielly “took this Chinaman and got him to run a restaurant” and that he allowed “this Chinaman to cohabit with another man’s wife in his hotel.” Dupen insisted that he would run a more respectable and orderly place were he permitted to serve alcohol, and further suggested that the town’s morality would be questioned if it was “the wish of the public at large that there should be no white man’s restaurant in Calgary.”161 Racist objections in newspapers were not limited to Calgary during the License Question. In Red Deer, the English Cafe advertised regularly in the local paper from 1907-1909 (during the time that the neighbourly Sages owned the café). While the café advertised its 25 cent meal price, oranges, bananas, Red Deer News, October 23, 1907, Page 4, Item Ad00401_7, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. This English Cafe advertisement suggests that non-white patrons would not be served.
apples, and the availability of short orders between meals hours, the first line of the
advertisement is in larger, underlined font, “White Cooks only Employed.”162 The 1914 edition of Henderson’s Directory reveals that further importance was given to differentiating Chinese owned establishments from white establishments; cafés were listed with their names and
James Dupen, “Restaurant Licenses,” The Calgary Weekly Herald, 7.
Red Deer News, 22 July 1908, 4.
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followed by “(Chinese)” to purposely other the owner.163 While Chinese-owned restaurants were important to the landscapes of many small towns by the 1920s, the language that was used to describe Chinese men in newspapers, and the emphasis made by the English Cafe on the whiteness of its cooks, and the descriptions used by Dupen in his letter to the editor, suggest that the importance of Chinese-owned restaurants to their communities was either a small town phenomenon or later occurrence; though the first seems most likely.164 Dupen’s letter to the editor also suggested that Chinese men and those who employed them were less than moral and that a “white man’s restaurant” was safer than one run by a Chinese immigrant.165 These suggestions came seven years after an anti-Chinese riot in Calgary that was prompted by an outbreak of smallpox in Chinatown that was blamed for the death of three white citizens.166 Prejudice towards the Chinese and fear of their business establishments continued into the twentieth century. On 4 October 1907, the Edmonton Bulletin reported on a “Chinse Stabbing Affray” that left one man, Mah Kee, with a potentially fatal gash in his head, and the other, Mah Mai under arrest after a quarrel. The incident “took place in a Chinese restaurant on Second street just opposite the Thistle rink,” and the article suggested that Chinese restaurants were not as safe as other reputable establishments. It was not important that a stabbing had occurred in a restaurant, but it was important that the restaurant owner and the men
Henderson Directories, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory for 1914 (Winnipeg: Henderson Directories, 1914), 281. 163
I have chosen to use the term “Chinese owned restaurant” as opposed to “Chinese restaurant,” because the latter suggests a restaurant that serves Chinese cuisine, while the former suggests a restaurant that is has a Chinese proprietor and does not necessarily serve Chinese cuisine. This will be further examined in Chapter 4. 164
Dupen, “Restaurant Licenses,” The Calgary Weekly Herald, 7.
Palmer, Patterns of Prejudice, 20.
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involved were Chinese.167 Chinese-owned restaurants were rarely mentioned positively in papers, which confirms that they were not seen places those of reputable status, particularly women, would visit and that they, like their owners, were marginalized by society. In an advertisement in the Calgary Herald in 1898 less than a year before the license issue, Dupen had advertised a change of name; what had been “The Old Bodega” had been renovated and renamed the “Prince of Wales Restaurant.” The advertisement stated that “Everything is first class, neat and clean, and where either ladies or gentlemen can procure a first-class meal.”168 The Bodega Restaurant had appeared a few times in the paper, and in July of 1897 the local news column reported that “The Bodega restaurant will, it is stated, be re-opened by a Chinaman.”169 It seems that the Bodega didn’t last too long, as it was purchased by Dupen sometime before April of 1898, when it was reported that “At last Calgary can boast of a white man’s restaurant. James Dupen has re-arranged the interior of the old Bodega, dividing it off into the different appartments, [sic] and no lady need feel at all timid in entering the place, as each apartment is exclusive and private.”170 Having a restaurant owned and operated by a white man was a marker to the rest of the country that Calgary was becoming a modern and sophisticated city. When Dupen opened the Prince of Wales, changing the name from the exotic “Bodega,” buying it from a Chinese owner, and renovating the interior, the assumption was that he, as a white man, made the establishment instantly of a higher class, instantly safe for women to
“Chinese Stabbing Affray,” The Edmonton Bulletin, 4 October 1907, 10.
The Calgary Weekly Herald, 21 July 1898, 7.
“Tuesday’s News,” The Calgary Weekly Herald, 8 July 1897, 8.
“Saturday’s News,” The Calgary Weekly Herald, 7 April 1898, 3.
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frequent, and provided the city with a restaurant that proved its modernity. Serving liquor would have made Dupen lots of money, but it also would have made the Prince of Wales unsafe for women and damaged its reputation, which suggests that for Dupen the profit outweighed the costs of not serving liquor. While Chinese men had, like women, been able to benefit from providing a more classically feminine and domestic service to men in a frontier society without much issue, it is clear that their acceptance began to wane as more settlers arrived to urban areas and as white men realised that they could use their place of power to professionalize public dining in the West and profit from it. The rejection of Chinese businesses also suggests that Western Canadians understood their emerging identity as being linked to whiteness.
Professionalization of Public Dining in Western Canada As increasing numbers of Euro-Canadian families came West, Chinese and female restauranteurs who had been “doing business based on trust and on mutual interests” found themselves excluded from a moral economy because of their race, ethnicity, and gender.171 In Prairie cities men like Dupen attempted to use their whiteness to gain economic advantages in the service industries.172 Racially based ideas were “often exploited for commercial purposes.” It was suggested that Chinese-owned establishments were unclean, and that they were unsafe places for women to frequent and work.173 Establishments run by women were further constricted to a narrower definition of the domestic sphere in a more urbanized context. In cities
Dirk Hoerder, Creating Societies: Immigrant Lives in Canada (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999), 188. 172
Roy, A White Man’s Province, 243.
Roy, A White Man’s Province, 32, 243.
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women’s participation in the public dining industry was soon confined to employment in restaurants and hotel dining rooms over ownership.174 The development of cities in the West provided enterprising white men with an opportunity to contribute to the landscape and culture of urban areas by providing a rising middle-class with consumer goods and spaces that reflected and secured their rising power in society. As the main centres of the Prairie West urbanized, cities emulated Eastern Canadian and American cities, like Toronto, Montreal, and New York, as examples which compare their sophistication to; part of this was proving that an industry revolving around the preparation of food, which was closely linked to roles of women in the home, was acceptable for men to participate in as professionals. The attempts to prove that Western Canada had, in essence, grown out of its frontier phase, and that its cities possessed the same elements that made an Eastern city sophisticated and modern was evident in the language used by the newspapers when describing certain characteristics of public dining establishments, and in some cases, was demonstrated through emulation by use of naming. In the 27 October 1906 edition of the Saturday News, the feature on the Prince Arthur Cafe described how Edmonton “developed from a lone trading post into a thoroughly modern city in a marvellously short space of time… the visitor to the Albertan capital is hardly prepared for the evidences of progress which he meets on every hand after arrival.” The author of the piece suggested that visitors would be surprised to have been told “that the city possesses a cafe, which has not an equal in Canada west of Toronto.” The cafe owners, Shaw and Layet, were noted as being “restauranteurs of large experience” whose knowledge of the
Strange, Toronto’s Girl Problem, 17, 21. The virtues of domestic service work were extolled to young women, though many had come to the city in response to advertisements for factory workers, stenographers, saleswomen, and waitresses. 174
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business lent itself to the creation of detailed perfection. Photographs were given to provide the reader doubtful of the author’s claims with an idea of the “high-class character of the establishment” and the “splendid scale” of the Prince Arthur. The end of the piece congratulated the proprietors on “the success which has attended their efforts to provide a cafe to which the citizens of Edmonton could point with pride” and predicted that its name would become familiar “the continent over.”175 When the Saturday News reported on the renovations of the Alberta Cafe in April of 1907, it suggested that “Mr. Cronn’s enterprise will give Edmonton an establishment on an equality with those of a similar kind in the large eastern cities.” The Saturday News demonstrated that there were expectations that a professionalized public dining establishment needed to live up to the standards set by the East. This emulation of Eastern standards was also done by directly invoking a prominent American restaurant. As the most celebrated and wellknown restaurant in late-19th century America, Delmonico’s “influence on American dining” post-Civil War reached far outside of New York. “Delmonico’s success inspired imitation” and as a widely recognized culinary institution, the name was borrowed and dishes served were copied; even the first American dining car was called the “Delmonico.”176 The Delmonico Restaurant in Calgary advertised in The Calgary Weekly Herald that it “enjoyed a First-class Reputation”177 and was clearly attempting to invoke the status and quality associated with the famous New York restaurant and its professionalism in the field.
“The Prince Arthur Cafe,” The Saturday News, 27 October 1906, 14. Regardless of the success and nature of the Prince Arthur, evidence referred to in the pervious chapter suggests that even it could not overcome the volatile nature of the restaurant business, in spite of the proprietors furnishing a lunch counter on the main floor to profit from the growing number of businessmen in the city. 175
Haley, Turning the Tables, 24-25.
The Calgary Weekly Herald, 29 August 1888, 8. Bold in original.
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Professionalization seems to have been the key to permanence in the restaurant business, if Delmonico’s proved to be any example. Americans Roy and Lina Beavers moved to Calgary in October of 1911 to open a restaurant with a friend (Roy Lewis) after spending several years on the carnival circuit. During the first few weeks, according to Mrs. Beavers’ diary, “the Roys” spent time searching for the ideal location at a good price, then a few more weeks preparing their café. Finally, on Monday, December 11th, 1911 at “11 a.m. the Roys opened the Club Cafe at 111 8th Ave. East. Calgary Alta.” As was examined in the first chapter, very few cafes or restaurants on the Prairies lasted long, and they frequently changed owners throughout their lifetime. The Commercial Cafe in the southern Alberta town of Lomond changed hands six times over 1917-18, and the English Cafe in Red Deer’s longest period of ownership was just shy of three years.178 The Beavers’ Club Cafe is one of the rare public dining establishments (not connected to large corporations like the CPR, which will be examined later) that lasted for more than five years with the same proprietors; the Club Cafe remained open for thirty-five Dining area of the Club Cafe, Calgary, Alberta, ca. 1920s, NA-2768-15, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB. This picture shows the success of Roy Beavers’ café enterprise. The elegant décor and male wait staff were outward demonstrations of a professionalism. The lunch counter visible to the left of the photograph also demonstrated the importance of providing options to diners.
years until it was destroyed by a fire in 1946.
See Ch. 1.
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The success of this café was likely found in the time taken to set up a serious operation. Beavers and his partner took several weeks to establish relationships with suppliers, find the perfect building, and the appropriate furnishings for it before opening.179 Several cooks and waiters were hired from the beginning.180 Unlike the Sages who had operated the English Cafe in Red Deer as a family business, the Club Cafe was almost exclusively run by Roy Beavers and his business partners. Lina Beavers was not the cook of the Club Cafe though occasionally she came to the café to work the cash register and often washed linens with a washing machine at the family’s apartment. From the café’s beginning, Mrs. Beavers diaries made it clear that Mr. Beavers and his partner took time to plan out menus with the chef, hire people, and find supplies. This wasn’t going to temporary café as so many others across the Prairies ended up being. The restaurant did very well; Lina’s diary often noted that Roy was busy at the café until late.181 The clear separation of home life and work life adhered to by the Beavers suggests that Roy Beavers had set the café up to benefit from the assumptions that Calgary and the West were modern and sophisticated. A search of the 1912 Henderson Directory for Calgary in Peel’s Prairie Archive reveals that there was only was only one woman on staff, Bella Lewis (likely related to Roy Lewis, the co-owner of the Club Cafe), who was employed as a cashier.182 The decision to employ few women further suggests that that café was run in the nature of a fine and professional fashion. Men cost more to employ and employing them was a commitment to professionalization. The employment of Ms. Lewis, and Mrs. Beavers’ occasional assistance
Beavers family fonds, Lina’s Diary, 1911, Glenbow Archives.
Henderson’s Directories, Henderson’s Calgary directory (City: Henderson Directory Co, 1912).
Beavers family fonds, Glenbow Archives, Lina’s Diary, 1911.
Henderson’s Directories, Henderson’s Calgary directory (City: Henderson Directory Co, 1912), 7.
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with the cash register, suggested that there was still space within the Calgary public dining industry for women. 1912 Calgary was still on the fringe of the frontier and operating restaurants, after all, provided a service that bordered on the domestic space, not matter how professionalized. Alberta’s 1922 Restaurant Act As examined in Chapter 1, The Restaurant Act of 1922 placed regulations on public dining establishments that primarily affected the licensing of the establishments and created conditions for the maintenance of them. While the act meant that hotels were no longer permitted to sell alcohol, other regulations within the act institutionalised the expectations that society had for restaurants. Many of the other regulations, particularly those impacting room partitions, gambling, and The Opium and Drug Act, which had been enacted by the federal government as a reaction to anti-Asian sentiment in the country,183 showed a strong bias against the Chinese owned establishments. As Patricia Roy notes, Chinatowns and by extension, their businesses, were pictured “as dens of iniquity inhabited by gamblers, and opium smokers living in filthy and cramped quarters marked by ingenious arrangements of doors, partitions, corridors, and warning signals that enabled inmates to escape police raids.”184 The Restaurant Act was clearly aimed at regulating a particular group of people. Much can also be learned from who the regulatory act excluded. Restaurants “maintained by any railway company for the convenience of passengers, or to any railway car provided by a railway company as a restaurant” were not subjected to The Restaurant Act.185 Created under the
Patricia Roy, The Oriental Question: Consolidating a White Man’s Province, 1914-41, 4.
Roy, The Oriental Question, 44-45.
The Restaurant Act, 1922.
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United Farmers of Alberta (UFA), the act clearly pandered to the interests of the provincial government in keeping good relations with the railway companies that the main industry in the province relied upon. As supporters of prohibition, the UFA and rural citizens were acknowledging that farm work required “sober hard work to succeed” along with their concerns “about how booze might harm the operators of the new machinery on their farms.” Additionally, the organization linked prohibition to the overall betterment of society.186 As such, the regulations of The Restaurant Act did not apply to “any restaurant in connection with any agricultural fair or exhibition.” Farmers were not in need of regulation since as a group, they were opposed to alcohol. Charitable and religious institutions operating restaurants (as defined broadly under the act) were also exempt from the restrictions of the act. This was clearly a benefit to upper- and middle-classes, who were supporters of prohibition as adherents to modernism, moral reform, and progressivism.187 Although public dining establishments had not been permitted to serve alcohol prior to 1922 unless attached to public lodging, The Restaurant Act of 1922, was created as an extension of prohibition. The restrictions of the act were a culmination and reflection of the value society placed on respectability, the changes that had occurred since the turn of the century, and the xenophobia that had been developing in Western Canada.
Intersecting Public Spaces Assumptions of race, class, and gender intersected and competed within public dining spaces and created complicated human interactions and expectations. People who owned or
Heron, Booze, 166-167.
The Restaurant Act, 1922; Heron, Booze, 165.
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worked at public dining establishments ran their businesses within the boundaries created by society. Those who frequented restaurants did so to reflect their expectations of respectability and class identity. Women were able to find opportunity in providing areas bordering urban and rural spaces with easy access to prepared food by owning and operating their own restaurants and cafés. Young women found an acceptable form of employment in an industry that intersected with traditionally accepted mores. Establishments that employed or were owned by respectable women were assumed to be safe and respectable places where women could dine without fear for their reputation. As the West urbanized, Chinese-owned establishments were considered threats to public safety and morality. As Western cities grew and developed into modern and sophisticated cultural centres they sought to emulate Eastern institutions. Public dining in Western Canada was professionalized by white men who capitalized on their respectability as the region urbanized. Newspaper articles commended dining establishments on their professionality and class while other establishments directly invoked the quality of famous establishments by naming themselves after them. An owner’s seriousness and success were demonstrated through the employment of other white men who were paid more on the assumption that they were providing for a family and were worth more by virtue of being white.188 Restaurants owned by white middle-class males were expected to maintain respectability, which was in part achieved by not serving alcohol. These professionalized restaurants sought respectable clients in a growing urban population of middleclass consumers and their families, while also serving middle-class travellers who could not afford to stay or dine in the highly respected Canadian Pacific Railway hotels. Regulations based on societal assumptions were created to ensure the continued respectability of restaurants. The
Kinnear, A Female Economy, 102-103.
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racial and gendered assumptions used to establish the status, identity, and place of a public dining establishment within a community was also supported by the food that was served within its walls.
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Chapter 3: Expressions of Identity on Western Canadian Menus On 15 June 1900 the third page of the Edmonton Bulletin printed an advertisement for The Criterion Restaurant, “The Dinner Trade.” It claimed, “We are getting it, and if a good square meal for 25c. is an inducement, we fill the bill. The only house with a short-order Bill of Fare. Ladies come here for your Afternoon Tea. Meals 15c. and up.”189 In The Winnipeg Times on 25 December 1880, two restaurants advertised their recent shipment of oysters.190 On 13 October 1906, the Grill Cafe in Edmonton advertised using a full Sunday Dinner Menu. Consommé aux Navels would be served for the soup, there was a choice of entrées from braised ox tongue with sauce jardinière, to lobster patties “a la Ostend.” There were several kinds of roast meats, and for dessert several different pies, and various cakes.191 The menus of these restaurants provide not only lists of food useful for understanding what people ate in the past, but can be used to examine how the evolving identity of the Canadian West was represented through food. As Christopher Tait notes in “Brushes, Budgets, and Butter: Canadian Culture and Identity at the British Empire Exhibit, 1924-25,” while the Government of Canada and Canadians did not put priority on creating displays of cultural nationalism, paintings and artwork were seen “by Canadians and foreign audiences as expressions of identity.”192 Like artwork food on menus expressed identity, though in many contexts, it was an identity expressed unconsciously. By the 1920s, Canadians were experiencing a “paradox between support for a separate Canadian
“The Dinner Trade,” Edmonton Bulletin, June 15, 1900, 3.
“Oriental Restaurant,” and “Bulk Oysters,” Winnipeg Daily Times, December 25, 1880, 3.
The Saturday News, 13 October 1906, 16.
Christopher Tait, “Brushes, Budgets, and Butter: Canadian Culture and Identity at the British Empire Exhibit, 1924-25,” in Canada and the British World: Culture, Migration, and Identity, ed. Phillip Buckner and R. Douglas Francis (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2006), 235. 192
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identity and continued connection to Britain.”193 As Jonathan Vance explores in A History of Canadian Culture, Canadians in a post-First World War world felt that they needed their “own distinct forms of cultural expression,” though what those forms should be were quickly muddled. Most seemed to agree that Canada’s distinct landscape was the basis from which a distinct culture could be built; the idea was not new, though its emphasis on regionalism was. Vance noted that, while admitting the need to create its own cultural industries, there was a danger that forcing a Canadian nationalism upon arts and culture would create an inauthentic version of Candianism.194 While art and other forms of cultural expression were more deliberate in their attempts to express Canadian identity, food serves as an organically created representation of cultural identity. For Western Canadians, part of their identity was tied to their region, but menus of small town restaurants into the 1920s demonstrated a complex identity found within the British Empire, their pioneering past, and their participation in modern society. Like other aspects of public dining, menus were a means of communicating status and an outward identity to itinerant diners and locals alike.
Eating the Colonial Frontier The names of restaurants and hotels where prepared food was available listed in Henderson’s Alberta Gasetteer and Directory for 1911 stressed that the nature of the Prairie West was both British and Canadian. In Strathmore, Alberta hotels had names like “The Maple
Tait, “Brushes, Budgets, and Butter,” 236.
Jonathan Vance, A History of Canadian Culture (Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2009), 247-248.
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Leaf,”195 and “King Edward.”196 Cafés and restaurants in the province followed similar naming patterns. Calgary was home to a “Balmoral Cafe,” “Caledonian Cafe,” “Palace Cafe,” “Queen Cafe,” and a “Victoria Cafe.”197 Didsbury, Alberta was also home to a “Palace Cafe,” Edmonton to a “Edinburgh Cafe,” “Great West Cafe,” and “King Edward Cafe,” Pincher Creek had an “Oxford Cafe” and Stettler a “Princess Cafe.”198 Calgary was also home to the Empire and Prince of Wales Restaurants, and Edmonton had The Prince Arthur Cafe, and Red Deer the English Cafe.199 Acme and Vegreville both had an “Alberta Hotel” and Stettler a “National Hotel.”200 The names of these hotels and restaurants around the province of Alberta reveal Westerners’ need to locate themselves within their new provincial status and to assert their connection to the British Empire and the country. The presence of an “American Cafe” in Taber and a “Waldorf Hotel and Cafe” in Pincher Creek, and a “Delmonico Restaurant” in Calgary, were evidence of American immigration to Southern Alberta, while the “International Cafe” in Coutts and the “Vendome Cafe” in Lethbridge suggest a connection to a larger world.201 These names were perhaps attempts to relate small railway towns to well-known and impressive North American destinations and to invoke thoughts of sophistication and worldliness.
Henderson Directories, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory for 1911 (Winnipeg: Henderson Directories, 1911), 859. 195
Henderson Directories, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory for 1911, 861.
Henderson Directories, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory for 1911, 153, 159, 212, 216, 231.
Henderson Directories, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory for 1911, 306, 383, 391, 393, 752, 835.
The Calgary Weekly Herald, 27 November 1889, 7; The Calgary Weekly Herald, 21 July 1898, 7; “The Prince Arthur Cafe,” The Saturday News, 27 October 1906, 14; Red Deer News, 3 March 1909, 5. 199
Henderson Directories, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory for 1911, 20-22.
Henderson Directories, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory for 1911, 872, 750, 291, 597; The Calgary Weekly Herald, 29 August 1888, 8. 201
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In general, the menus from Alberta restaurants, including hotel dining rooms, between the period from 1896 to the 1920s offered limited food selection.202 The dates on the menus indicate that these local establishments changed their dishes frequently; some weekly, some daily, and most between lunch and dinner. Several offered special meals for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, and some specifically advertised Sunday dinners. Many were handwritten or typed to fill-in-the-blank forms. The dishes on the menus were, for the most part, very similar at all the public dining establishments.203 Located in Strathmore, Alberta, the King Edward Hotel’s menus were printed on a single sheet of paper with sections for soups, fish, entrees, hot roasts, cold meats, vegetables, and dessert.204 The menus were based on the prairie’s seasonally available foods, though newspaper advertisements from as early as 1880 in Winnipeg advertise that oysters were “Received Daily per Express” by the Golden Restaurant and at least two other establishments.205 If a town was along a railway line, more exotic foods would have been made available. Fish on the King Edward Hotel’s menus was, however, often crossed off to be replaced by a “chutney salad,” “summer salad,” or “potato salad.”206 For the most part, the cuisine on the King Edward Hotel dining room menus was representative of the same British Imperial identity characterised by the establishment’s name.
Hotels will be used in this chapter as numerous menus from the period in question exists from hotel dining rooms, which served food that was the same as that served in cafés or restaurants. 203
Menus, Menus 1896-1919. Glenbow Archives. Calgary, AB; Menus, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB. 204
King Edward Hotel Menus 1912, 98.003, Menus, King Edward Hotel, Strathmore, Alta., 1912, 28 items, Menus 1896-1919, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB. “Bulk Oysters,” “Oysters, Oysters, Oysters,” “Little Tommy’s Oyster Parlor,” The Winnipeg Times, 25 November 1880, 2. 205
King Edward Hotel Menus 1912, 98.003, Glenbow Archives.
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“Boiled Corned Ham. Pickle Sauce,” “Ribs of Mutton,” “Leg of Lamb Mint Sauce,” “Steamed Ginger Pudding Brandy Sauce,” “Baked Steak & Kidney Pie,” “Roast Beef & Dressing,” and “Minced Meat on Toast” were accompanied by other foods with origins in the United Kingdom like “Irish Stew & Vegetable” and “Scotch Broth.” Similarly, in 1917 the Commercial Cafe in Lomond offered the very British “Consome Princess,” (a poor spelling of consommé) “Mince Pie,” and “Plum Pudding with Brandy Sauce.”207 The meals available at the King Edward Hotel often included some kind of boiled meat: mutton, beef, pork, or fish. Occasionally the meats were fried. The main dishes of meat were accompanied by sauces: brown, butter, sweet, tomatoes, pickle, mint, and apple, or some other dressing. Orange,
King Edward Hotel Menu, Glenbow Archives, Menus 1890-1919. For the most part, the cuisine on the King Edward Hotel dining room menus, like “Queen Fritters,” and “Mutton Curry” were representative of the same British Imperial identity characterised by the establishment’s name. The attempt at using French with “Potage a la Paulet” suggests that the management felt the need to display the status that was associated with French cuisine, even though they clearly were not familiar with it.
currant, and apple fritters made frequent appearances under the entrée section of the menu; orange and currant fritters were accompanied by a sweet sauce while apple fritters were served with a lemon or citron sauce. On 21 January 1912 Queen Fritters with almond sauce were served. Desserts almost always included apple pie and pudding with sauce, and sometimes a pumpkin, lemon, fig, cocoanut or orange pie or cake would add variety to the menu. Beans, turnips, celery,
The Lomond Press, 4 May 1917, 2.
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carrots and parsnips, all of which were traditionally cultivated in Europe, alternated as the vegetable side.208 These foods were all easily available in Western Canada. Many ingredients could be grown locally, while some would have made their way to Strathmore by train from other parts of Canada and the world. When the pattern of immigration changed after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885 American farmers and Europeans came searching for a better life. Western Canada was becoming increasingly diverse, and was no longer characterized strictly by immigrants who had come largely from Eastern Canada and Great Britain. 209 Between 1901 and 1931, the population of the prairies grew from just over 400,000 to 2.4 million. The population that had been primarily “Canadian by birth and British by national origin in the late nineteenth century” had drastically changed in cultural composition by the First World War. By 1914, almost half of the prairie provinces’ population had been born in another country; immigrants of various Eastern European origins composed around 20 percent of the population, and immigrants of Western European origins made up another 20 percent.210 This increased diversity fueled the general aim of keeping Canada British, and of assimilating the “other” into the Anglo-Saxon culture.211 The menus of Strathmore’s King Edward Hotel suggest both a commitment to an Anglo-Canadian identity in the West, while also representing the region’s dominant settler group.
King Edward Hotel Menus 1912, 98.003, Glenbow Archives.
Beulah Barss, The Pioneer Cook: A Historical View of Prairie Food (Calgary: Detselig Enterprises, 1980), 25.
Gerlad Friesen, The Canadian Prairies: A History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), 242, 244.
David Smith, “Instilling British Values in the Prairie Provinces,” in Immigration & Settlement, 1870-1939, ed. Gregory P. Marchildon (Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center Press, 2009), 441. 211
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French and Foreign Food In Turning the Tables, Andrew Haley’s exploration of the ethnic restaurant in the United States suggests that 19th century Americans held French food as the “world’s only great cuisine, and neither American nor ethnic cuisine had many defenders.” However, by the close of the 1800s new immigrants were “bringing diverse foods and entrepreneurial traditions of restaurant ownership” to American cities. The dining establishments initially provided immigrant populations with a taste of home, but soon began to appeal to members of the rising middle class who were “eager to find alternatives to inaccessible aristocratic establishments.” The process of eating ethnic cuisine essentially “colonized and transformed foreign eateries into restaurants that catered to middle-class tastes,” and middle class diners claimed that the diversity of the United States cuisine made it enviable.212 While foreign foods had once been thought “too greasy, too garlicky, or too spicy” by the middle class, by the 20th century the “middle-class urbanites were embracing a new culinary adventurism that trumped the culinary xenophobia” of earlier years. 213 In Western Canada, ethnic restaurants do not appear to have been too frequent, likely due to the fact that restaurants were typically more urban institutions and the settlers that had been recruited to Canada came to farm. Items like “Weiner Wurst Sauer Kraut,” “portage a la Paulet” (likely meant to say “poulet”), “German Fried Potatoes,” “Spanish de Viage,” “Baked Spaghetti Cheese Crouton,” and “Lyonnaise Potato Salad” on King Edward Hotel menus reflects the increasing diversity of the immigrant population to the West. Cabbage was often served as a vegetable dish,214 and had been used in the West with more frequency after the arrival of Eastern
Haley, Turning the Tables, 94-95.
Haley, Turning the Tables, 97.
King Edward Hotel Menus 1912, 98.003, Glenbow Archives; Sanitarium Hotel Menu, ca. 1909, Luxton Family fonds, Norman Luxton sous-fonds, LUX/I/E2-9, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB.
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Europeans.215 Menus prior to the First World War were representative of the West’s British heritage, but also had some level of “inclusiveness with menu items regaling the varied European pasts” of the prairie settlers.216 However, the continued prominence of British food suggests that even those immigrants whose “ethnic” dishes were deemed interesting enough for cultural exploration would be expected to conform to and adopt a dominate Anglo-Canadian identity. The variety of dishes listed above were not served at the King Edward Hotel with any regularity, suggesting that the daily changes in the dining room menu may have been related to the guests who stayed at the hotel, or to the dining room’s desire to participate in the middle-class “culinary adventurism.”217 Haley recognizes that the majority of menus printed in the rural United States areas were more likely to use English on their menus; when French did appear on menus from rural and middle class establishments, it was not always used to refer to real French cuisine. This created a “hodgepodge of culinary traditions: part southern plantation, part English tavern, and part French restaurant.” The French language was intentionally used to emulate status.218 These ideas were in part mirrored in Western Canadian dining establishments, where the appearance of French on menus indicated that the owner’s may have been attempting to make their businesses look modern and reflect the culture of both upper class and Eastern Canadians. Where the King Edward Hotel’s dining room very clearly used bastardized French to name dishes and project an assumption of class, The Grill Cafe in Edmonton used proper names for French cuisine that
Beulah Barss, The Pioneer Cook: A Historical View of Prairie Food (Calgary: Detselig Enterprises, 1980), 43.
Molly Pulver Ungar, “Nationalism on the Menu: Three Banquets on the 1939 Royal Tour,” in Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012), 353. 216
Haley, Turning the Tables, 97.
Andrew Haley, Turning the Tables: Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 26-27.
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projected the establishment’s actual class. An advertisement provided a menu for a Sunday diner in the Saturday News; “Stuffed Olives,” “Consumme aux Navets” (turnip consumme), “Halibut Steak, Sauce Cardinal,” “Braised Ox Tongue, Sauce Jardiniere” (sauce made from the liquid of a vegetable stew), “Lobster Patties a la Ostend” (in the style of Ostend, Belgium), “Tambales of Veal” “Fowl Croquettes a la Maitre d’Hotel,” are some of the entrées they were to serve.219 Using the French names meant that only certain people could fully read and interpret the foods on the menu (unlike the King Edward Hotel’s menus there are few spelling mistakes, and the dishes are actually traditionally French), and those who could were the ideal clients for the café. An important distinction was also made with desserts; “French Tartlettes,” “German Fruit Cakes,” “English Plum Pudding,” and “Canadian Cheese” suggests that the origins of a dish were important to establish what the customer could expect.220
Representing Empire and Modernity The occasional presence of mutton curry on the King Edward Hotel menus and the presence of curried lobster and rice on a Banff Sanitarium Hotel menu suggests Western Canadians’ participation in British Imperialism.221 By the middle of the nineteenth century, curry was considered a thoroughly British food. Representative of India in the minds of British women, curry was incorporated “into the national diet and made… culturally British.”222 Colonialism brought Englishmen (and women) in contact with other cultures and unleashed a
Saturday News, 13 October 1906, 16.
Saturday News, 13 October 1906, 16.
King Edward Hotel Menus 1912, 98.003, Glenbow Archives.
Susan Zlotnick, “Domesticating Imperialism: Curry and Cookbooks in Victorian England,” in Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Vol. 16 (1996), 52. 222
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“fear of hybridity.” Through the domestic and moral middle-class Victorian women, hybridity could be neutralised. Taking “into their homes a hybrid like curry, the mongrelized offspring of England’s union with India, and through the ideological effect of domesticating it” women recreated curry as entirely English.223 Incorporating an English dish like mutton with the Indian curry and rice and serving it in Canada created ties among colonies and the mother country. Menus in the Canadian West prior to the 1920s suggest that ox was frequently served. Pickled Ox Tongue was served by the Alberta Hotel in 1905, and at the King Edward Hotel, “Baked Ox Heart & Dressing,” as a Hot Roast on 20 January 1912, and the next day it was offered as a Cold Meat. This was a frequent occurrence at the King Edward Hotel with their cold meat offerings being made up of the entrées or hot roasts from the previous day. Boiled Ox Tongue was also a frequent offering at the hotel, making it a very rare occurrence when ox was not on the menu.224 Prior to the arrival of the railway, food not grown locally had been brought into Western Canada from the United States by bull trains. Pulled by large teams of oxen, the bull trains came into the North West Territories carrying up to four tons of goods per wagon.225 Oxen were also used to pull settlers’ wagons across the American Plains and the Canadian Prairies, and were usually the first animals used to pull a plow and break new ground. As a fairly frequently dish on menus, ox can be seen as representative of two separate identities. In the first, as Bonnie Huskins notes in “From ‘Haute Cuisine’ to Ox Roasts: Public Feasting and the Negotiation of Class in Mid-19th-Century Saint John and Halifax,” ox/beef roast was seen as representative “of John Bull and Merrie England, and were considered part of the English
Zlotnick, “Domesticating Imperialism,” 54.
King Edward Hotel Menus 1912, 98.003, Glenbow Archives.
Garret Wilson, Frontier Farwell: The 1870s and The End of The Old West (Regina, Canadian Plains Research Center Press, 2007), 186.
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‘birthright.’”226 The second representation connects ox to the earlier settlement period in the North West Territories and to the way food supplies came into the region prior to the arrival of a railway and as the tool used to help with the beginnings of a farming food. By the time Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905, settlement was no longer characterised by oxdriven wagon trains, but by the Canadian Pacific Railway and Clifford Sifton’s settlement policies. Also frequently appearing on Western Canadian menus, oysters also appear to have been an important food item. On 7 February 1880, The Winnipeg Times reported “the express arrivals by train.” These arrivals included several trunks, boxes, and packages for several different people, and with the exception of only one box, filled with oysters, the contents of the packages were not announced.227 Paul Herden’s article, “The West Loved Oysters Too!” examines how oysters were packed on the Eastern American Seaboard and shipped to the West, first by express companies and then by railways. Oysters were shipped both canned and fresh on ice, and were popular among all aspects of society. Like the Western Canadian newspapers, “the frequency of their mention in western newspapers” speaks to their allure. The popularity of oysters in America peaked in the latter half of the 1800s and had waned by the 1910s largely due to the pollution of oyster habitats.228 Oysters seem to have hit peak popularity in the Prairie Provinces in the years shortly following the arrival of the railway to the region. In 1887, the first line of the Herald’s
Bonnie Huskins “From ‘Haute Cuisine’ to Ox Roasts: Public Feasting and the Negotiation of Class in Mid-19thCentury Saint John and Halifax,” in Labour/Le Travail, Vol. 37, (Athabasca: Athabasca University Press, Spring 1996), 20. 226
“Express Arrivals,” The Winnipeg Times, 7 February 1880, 4.
Paul L. Hedren, “The West Loved Oysters Too! A Look at That Time in America When Those Briny Bivalves Were All the Rage, Even Beyond the Missouri River,” in Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Vol. 61, No. 4 (Winter 2011), pp. 3-15. 228
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“Of Local Interest” column read, “FRESH Oysters at Claxton’s” and again, six lines later, readers were reminded “DON’T forget that Claxton sells the best bulk oysters in the town.” A year later Calgary’s Delmonico Restaurant advertised “Fresh Oysters in all Styles,” and at the end of the decade the Empire Restaurant advertised “OYSTERS In every known style always on hand.”229 On 1 March 1888, the Brandon Mail’s “Town Topics” column mentioned New York count oysters by the dish at G. and D. Cassel’s… oyster patties or cakes of any kind made to order… G. D. Cassels has his first shipment of oysters direct from Baltimore, and will be sold at right prices, wholesale or retail… G. and D. Cassels give good measure and and [sic] solid meats in bulk oysters. Try them. they [sic] are selected at 65 cents per quart. New York counts, 75 cents per quart… Oysters dished up in all styles at Cassels!230
Clearly, the arrival of oysters was an important event for Western Canadian restaurants and grocers. Other notes in papers from the 1880s mention oysters in connection with special occasions. The Prince Albert Times noted that Edmontonians “celebrated their removal to new quarters in the fort by an oyster supper,”231 the Brandon Mail reported the loss of a gold chain an suggested that the owner would “give an oyster supper or something better to any one returning it to him,”232 and the Calgary Weekly Herald read “Our thanks are due to Mr. Parish for a couple of cans of fresh oysters which he brought with him from Brandon last week.”233 The arrival of oysters was heralded in the papers, and their rarity made them a special dish for Western
The Calgary Weekly Herald, 29 August 1888, 8; “Of Local Interest,” The Calgary Weekly Herald, 18 November 1887, 8; The Calgary Weekly Herald, 30 October 1889, 9. 229
“Town Topics,” The Brandon Mail, 1 March 1888, 1.
“North West Notes,” The Prince Albert Times, 12 March 1886, 4.
“Town Topics,” The Brandon Mail, 11 June 1885, 8.
“Local News,” The Calgary Weekly Herald, 27 February 1883, 1.
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Canadians so far from the coasts. The taste for the bivalves was likely brought with Americans who came to Canada and the availability of oysters in Western Canada was very strongly linked to the railway that connected the region to the rest of the world; being able to purchase oysters meant that proprietors and patrons alike were participants in modernizing the Canadian West. The importance that curry, ox, and oysters held on the Western Canadian menu tied the region to a broader context. As a participant in and product of British imperial expansion, the Canadian West would have seen curry as a British dish over an Indian one as its presence in the West would have been directly tied to the tastes brought by immigrants from the United Kingdom. Ox on the menu, likely prepared from cow or steer meat, provided a link to a West that existed before modernity; eating ox meant that they were no longer needed as working animals and proved the triumph of modernity and civilization. The availability of oysters far away from coast lines further proved modernity, and allowed for Western Canadians to participate in an American food trend. Much of the appeal of certain foods as menu items in public dining establishment was what those items communicated about their establishment to patrons; they imply that it was important to prove that Western Canadian restaurants, and by extension Western Canadians, were capable of participating in the same trends that the rest of Canada, North America, and the British Empire were.
Non-Chinese Food The menus examined in this chapter are from exclusively Anglo-Canadian restaurants. However, it is important to identify the important role played by the Chinese in the establishment of a Canadian cuisine. A brief search the 1911, 1914, and 1924 editions of Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory using the term “cafe” or “restaurant” confirms a large number of these
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establishments were owned and operated by Chinese immigrants.234 In her book, Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada, Lily Cho credits small-town Chinese restaurants with a “matter-of-fact definition of Canadian food.” Ignoring any “existential crisis about the definition of Canadian culinary culture, Chinese restaurants” went ahead and “named Canadian food for Canadians.” Cho points out that Chinese restaurants used the terms “Canadian” and “Western” interchangeably on their menus, situating the “idea of Canada within the terrain of whiteness,” and placing the Prairie West within a dominant, Euro-Canadian context. The Chinese immigrants who ran small-town restaurants and cafés were aware of the non-Chineseness of the Canadian West, and were more aptly able to create a Canadian cuisine, which for them meant anything that was not Chinese.235 The proprietors of Pincher Creek, Alberta’s City Café, Chow Louey and Chow Mang, served their customers à la carte. A circa 1920s menu includes several options for “Steaks and Chops,” “Soups,” “Salads,” “Oysters and Clams,” “Potatoes and Vegetables,” “Poultry and Game in Season,” “Fish and Sardines,” “Sandwiches and Cold Meats,” and ice cream. None of the categories offered anything that is even vaguely inspired by Chinese cuisine.236 The City Café proprietors chose to appeal to their clientele by offering food that was familiar. As Sjena Gunew suggests, Chinese-owned establishments “were also hyper-Canadian in their efforts not to tease Canadian palates unduly with anything alien or exotic.” Any items that were remotely
Henderson Directories, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer and Directory, (Winnipeg: Henderson Directories, 1911, 1914, 1924), Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries, Edmonton Alberta. While Chinese-owned cafés were common, a search on hotels in the directories suggests that hotel employees and proprietors were primarily of Euro-Canadian descent. Women were additionally more likely to be listed as waitresses, cooks, or clerks at hotels than at restaurants or cafés. This suggests that hotel dining rooms were likely viewed as higher status and therefore safer establishments for women to frequent. 234
Lily Cho, Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), 52-55. 236
City Café Menu, circa 1920s, Pincher Creek Echo fonds, BB.4 P647 1011, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB.
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Chinese in origin, were “thoroughly worked over to function within the imagined limits of nonChinese tastes.”237 It can be hypothesised then, that the owners and cooks in the cafés, restaurants, and hotel dining rooms of the Canadian West created a Western Canadian cuisine and identity that was, as the Chinese easily pointed out, almost exclusively based on British or European origins.
Regional Dishes? Certain menus however, did advocate for a Western Canadian identity based on the characteristics associated with the region’s history of buffalo hunting and ranching over its British background or participation in modernity. Once located at 811 Centre St. in Calgary, the Buffalo Cafe’s menu from July 5 to 10, 1926 featured a buffalo on its logo, the same one that was featured in its advertisement in the Calgary Herald the same day (5 July 1926).238 It should be noted that the menu and advertisement are from the same week that the Calgary Herald’s front page read “Stampede Is Open! Big Street Parade Seen by Thousands.”239 The café’s menu for the week provided its menu items with cowboy-themed names like “BAAH IN THE RAIN (Mutton Broth),” for soups, and “A MERRY WIDOW TRIMMED WITH DAISIES (Hot Cakes and Fried Eggs),” “A STACK OF BONES (Pork Spare Ribs),” and “BUFFALO EYEBROWS ON TOAST” (the actual name for this dish is not listed) for entrées. The vegetables included “STEWED CORN,” “SOFT CORNS,” “HARD CORNS,” “ONIONS,” “BUNIONS,”
Sneja Gunew, “Affective Histories: Eating “Chinese” across Canada and the World,” in What’s to Eat?: Entrées in Canadian Food History (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009), 247. 237
Buffalo Cafe Menu 1926, M1136, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB; “Buffalo Cafe,” The Calgary Daily Herald, 5 July 1926, 13. 238
“Stampede Is Open!,” Calgary Daily Herald, 5 July 1926, 1.
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“BLISTERS,” and “BUFFALO BLEMISHES.”240 The final three vegetables listed are of course not vegetables, but appear to be included just for fun. The menu gave the impression that the Canadian West had a sense of humor, and the Buffalo Cafe applied it to its food with a cowboy themed-menu. Menus from Calgary’s Club Cafe were also cowboy themed at the beginning of July. Like the Buffalo Cafe, these menus were written to be used during the Calgary Stampede, which is to this day held at the beginning of July.241 Unlike the Buffalo Cafe, the Club Cafe did not change the names of its dishes to suit the occasion, but did change their café’s name on the menu to the “HOME RANCH COOKHOUSE” and bordered the menu with maple leaves and pictures of bronco busters and bull riders in 1924.242 A second menu from the Club Cafe featured a front page “Roy Beavers’ Chuck House,” Club Café Menu, M70, Mrs. Roy H., General Papers, 1910-1943, “Club Cafe,” Beavers family fonds, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB. The Club Cafe in Calgary used special menus during the Calgary Stampede.
resembling a barn door. The text mimicked sloppy cowboy-themed writing, and the café changed its name to “ROY BEAVERS’ CHUCK HOUSE” for the
Buffalo Cafe Menu 1926, M1136, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives.
Calgary Stampede, “Stampede History,” About Us, http://corporate.calgarystampede.com (accessed 15 December 2014). 241
“Home Ranch Cookhouse,” Club Cafe Menu 1924, M70, Beavers, Mrs. Roy H., General Papers, 1910-1943, “Club Cafe,” Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB. 242
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Calgary Stampede.243 Again, the Club Cafe did not theme the food on its menu, but its proprietors, the Beavers, did theme the art on their menus, and presumably the décor. Like other middle-class diners of the 1920s who no longer ate out with the European expectation that the food would be superior to what could be made at home, Calgarians sought to find relief from the “burdens of food preparations, opportunities to socialize, and at times, a certain kind of titillation.” The Buffalo and Club Cafes were able to profit not from offering exciting new foods but through the provision of décor that offered an exciting and different visual experience.244 Though the Calgary Stampede was to be representative of the region’s cowboy heritage, the inclusion of cowboy art on menus belies the actual contents of the menus: plain everyday food. It would seem that, although the cowboy West appeared on Calgary menus during the Stampede, there was not much day-to-day representation of it on the menus after the First World War. Ox was not served on even the themed menus, and for the rest of the year the menus were not terribly representative of a distinctive Western Canadian identity. In her essay, “Regional Differences in the Canadian Daily Meal?,” Elizabeth Driver points out that “today we cherish the differences among Canada’s regions,” looking for “characteristics that signify regions, such as local ingredients, artisanal foods, and the settlement of particular cultural groups.” Driver suggests that the large expanse of land that Canada covers would certainly lead one to suspect distinct differences in food across the regions. In her examination of over 2200 Canadian cookbooks, Driver found that there were very few regional differences in daily meals across the
“Roy Beavers’ Chuck House,” Club Café Menu, M70, Mrs. Roy H., General Papers, 1910-1943, “Club Cafe,” Beavers family fonds, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB. 243
Levenstein, Revolution at the Table, 190.
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country.245 At the turn of the century, cookbook recipes identified national origins, just as menus identified “Scotch Broth” or “Irish Stew.” The dishes may “indicate a concentration of people from the dish’s country of origin or they might be dishes that have simply entered the mainstream,” like curry.246 While one might expect to see more differences on the menus in Western Canada, the menus permit the conclusion that Westerners looked (with a few exceptions) to find an identity that linked them first to the larger British Empire and later to Canada itself while also adhering to modern dining trends in order to prove their cultural equality to the East.
National Identity on the Menu The food on Western Canadian menus from the early twentieth century suggests that Western Canadians identity was nuanced and complex. It was found in being British and Canadian and sometimes through their regional history. Western Canadians’ identity shifted from being members of a British colony to being members of Canada when the region joined Confederation. This identity shifted and further solidified as Canadians attempted to forge an exclusively Canadian identity after the First World War. A menu from the Claresholm Café demonstrates a Canadian identity rooted in the West but spanning from coast to coast with its offerings of “Fried Fresh B.C. Salmon,” and “Canadian Pot Roast.”247 The changing Western Canadian and overall Canadian identity from one found in the connection to the British Empire
Elizabeth Driver, “Regional Differences in the Canadian Daily Meal?: Cookbooks Answer the Question,” in What’s to Eat: Entrées in Canadian Food History, ed. Nathalie Cooke (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2009), 197-8. 245
Driver, “Regional Differences in the Canadian Daily Meal?,” 201.
Claresholm Cafe Menu circa 1920s, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB.
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to one found in the connections among provinces was very interestingly represented by a High River café’s name change from “Royal Cafe” to “Dominion Café.” Similar to the form menus of other small prairie restaurants, the staff at the Dominion Cafe typed in the date – “August 12/28” – and the day’s meal options to fill in the blanks. However, the café’s original name at the top of the form has been crossed out and replaced with the typed “Dominion Cafe” and is a striking representation of the evolving Canadian identity.248 The Canadian West used its exceptional scenery and experiences to promote itself, but menus suggested that Westerners were still trying to connect themselves with a broader Anglo-Canadian identity by proving that they were capable of being part of a cultured and modern nation. The Canadian West, as seen through menus, evolved over the first two decades of the twentieth century. Menus suggest that the West found its identity partiyl through its own unique history, but more strongly through its place as part of the British Empire and later as a region within the modern nation of Canada. The names of cafés, hotels, and restaurants across the prairies evidence the importance of these broader connections to a colonial and national identity, and the food on menus for these eating establishments confirmed the British nature of the Canadian West and its quest to demonstrate its cultural equality to the rest of the nation. Prior to the 1920s, the presence of ox on the menu provided a connection to the West’s pre-railway settlement. The completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway cut the ties between the North West Territories and posts in the United States, and the CPR helped to fuel the creation of a nationwide Canadian identity with the food it served in its hotels and dining cars. Canadian identity was, by far, the most common meal on the menu in Western Canada.
Dominion Cafe Menu 1928, 98.003, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB.
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Chapter 4: The CPR and the Creation of a Western Canadian Identity The role of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in the settlement of Western Canada has been well examined; as has the company’s role in the tourist trade.249 What has yet to receive much attention is the role the CPR played in the development of a Canadian cuisine in their Western Canadian hotel dining rooms and dining cars. As a public dining establishment, the CPR offered several different forms of dining: on the rails, at station lunch counters, and in hotels. These three dining experiences were quite different, but all prided themselves on the use of quality, consistent, Canadian ingredients. The CPR also embraced modern food trends and obviously used their food to appeal to tourists. They provided other Western Canadian public dining establishments with an example for quality in the way that Delmonico’s acted as the epitome of class and fine cuisine in the United States. The CPR’s food-related efforts were tied closely to the company’s tourist trade that brought people from East to West over the Prairies and to their grand Rocky Mountain resorts. As a result, the identity that the CPR portrayed was both wild and sophisticated, and Canadian over Western.
Creating Expectations The monthly staff and investor newsletter the Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin maintained a section for information concerning dining and sleeping car services. This section included news, excerpts from complimentary letters, and information on the operation of the
E.J. Hart, The Selling of Canada: The CPR and the Beginnings of Canadian Tourism (Banff: Altitude Publishing Ltd, 1983); John A. Eagle, The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Development of Western Canada (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989); Pierre Berton, The National Dream; The Last Spike (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1974); Hugh A. Dempsey, The CPR West: The Iron Road and the Making of a Nation (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1984); Barry Lane, Canadian Pacific: The Golden Age of Travel (Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions, 2015).
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department. In May of 1914, the Bulletin very clearly laid out the intentions of the CPR. The article on the sleeping and dining cars noted, Our company, which has been characterized as the world’s greatest transportation system, believes that success does not lie altogether in simply operating its railway, but also in administrating national assets for national good. This policy early resulted in the company owning and developing enormous agricultural timber, coal and natural gas areas, besides operating public necessities such as elevators, steamships, docks, terminals and car and locomotive shops, providing equipment for its miles of track, as well as operating its own hotel, sleeping and dining car services.250 This first paragraph of the section laid out the company’s intentions to act as a national agency, and subsequently help to define a national identity centering on nature, modernity, and industry using its diverse business endeavours; including food and dining related endeavors. Further importance was given to the food and dining services offered by the CPR by suggesting that they provided “Proper provision for the care of the ‘inner man’ by means of an unexcelled dining car service, [which] is nowadays regarded as of the highest importance in the transportation business.”251 Appearing to have been the first regular feature about the dining and sleeping car services, the article in the May 1914 issue laid out the intentions of the feature to provide readers with updates on the state of the department and its related operations. The company noted the growth in the number of dining cars “in the last few years,” and the improvements that had been made to standardize supplies, provide “greater supervision to quality, handling, preparation for the table, and serving,” and to select and carefully train employees in the most efficient service.
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (64A,), 1 May 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 4. 251
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (64A,), 1 May 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 4.
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A reputation for impeccable service had been built, and “in order to ensure the desired results, the company undertook… to develop supply farms of its own, from which to obtain various supplies” including fruit, vegetables, meat and poultry, and dairy products. Bakeries and kitchens were established at terminals in order to ensure that breads, ice creams, sauces, and soups were standardized across the system of dining cars, and purchased foods were “subject to the inspection and analysis of the Milton Hersey Laboratories.”252 The CPR took its reputation for food, its consistent quality and service very seriously, and the monthly feature in the Bulletin was to provide “a short description of the supply farms, terminal bakeries and kitchens, etc., with an account of the manner in which the output is handled, the specifications which have been adopted as standard,” so that their agents, staff, and investors could learn about what was being done to improve dining cars and the company’s provisioning of them.253 In September of 1913 the Bulletin noted that the CPR had established supply and demonstration farms at various locations in order to provide its Dining Car Department with a permanent source of food supply. The same issue also announced the plans of the company to install bakeshops at stops between Halifax and Vancouver in order to supply “fresh bread and pastry worthy of bearing the C.P.R. trade mark” every fifteen hours.254 By April of 1914 the Bulletin was reporting that commissary depots were being constructed at Winnipeg and Vancouver. The buildings combined office and storage space. The dining car section had areas for refrigeration, wine and cigar storage, and dining room equipment, while the culinary
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (64A,), 1 May 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 4. 253
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (64A,), 1 May 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 4. 254
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin 56, 1 September 1913, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 5-6.
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department was equipped with a modern kitchen and bakery. The intention of this was to “bring about greater uniformity and perfection in the quality of items… than would be possible if they were purchased outside, or made by the chefs on the dining cars.”255 Throughout the 1910s the CPR’s Bulletin consistently featured articles on dining cars and how they were supplied with the quality Canadian ingredients that were found on its menus.
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (66A), 1 July 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 11. Photographs of the fruits produced on CPR Supply Farms were reproduced in the Bulletin.
Following through on the previous promise to include “illustrations of the cars, the supply farms, buildings, gardens, hot-houses, terminal kitchens and bakeries, as well as the supplies handled,”256 the July 1914 the column featured photographs of hot houses, vegetable gardens, and tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries “GROWN ON OUR FARMS,” with the explanation that the images “give an idea of the facilities provided at the Company’s Supply Farms for producing fruits and vegetables for our dining cars and the quality of the supplies thus
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin 63, 1 April 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 3. 256
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin 63, 1 April 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 3.
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produced.”257 The CPR used company farms and producers local to their hotels and stations to stock their dining cars and dining rooms and very clearly Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (65A), 1 June 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 9. Pictures of the farming techniques used at CPR demonstration and supply farms were included to show readers the modernity of the company.
prided itself on serving consistent quality Canadiansourced food. In the July 1912
Bulletin the company reported that British Columbia potatoes had been exhibited at the American Land & Irrigation Exposition in New York the previous November. The potatoes were judged by “yield per acre, edible qualities, smoothness, uniformity in size, trueness to type, condition of eyes and variety” and were collected from over forty different locations across in British Columbia. The CPR proudly declared that the B.C. potatoes had been judged as superior to all other contestants and that “British Columbia Championship potatoes are served on C.P.R. dining cars in the West.”258 Part of the “PAGE DEVOTED TO THE INTERESTS OF THE DINING AND SLEEPING CAR SERVICES” also revealed the CPR’s commitment to food safety and modern dietary recommendations and trends. In June of 1914, the page featured photographs of “the latest sanitary methods of housing and milking cows at Supply Farm No. 1, Strathmore… [and] the manner in which mild and special cream is put up and served on Dining Cars.” The first
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (66A), 1 July 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 11. 258
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin 41, 30 July 1912, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 5.
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photo showed cows inside a barn were milked using new machines, which were supervised by an attended dressed in white; the second showed glass cream containers embossed with “Canadian Pacific.” There were no descriptions of how the milking machinery worked or what made it more sanitary, and the only elaboration on how “cream is put up” was the statement that “The milk and cream is tested regularly by Civic and Provincial Food Inspectors in order to ensure” products of the highest standards.259 This suggests that the pictures were enough to prove the superior quality of CPR dairies.
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (65A), 1 June 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 9. Image of the cream containers and seal used by the CPR.
The dairy was part of one of the CPR’s 13 farms across the prairies which had been established to practise modern mixed farming techniques. Each of the farms had buildings suitable to mixed farming and were “equipped with only such machinery as… [was] necessary for intelligent, economic farming.” Farmers were hired to run the farms under the supervision and advice of the company’s agricultural experts who regularly visited and inspected the farms. The farms were intended to be models of successful mixed farms, and the Bulletin noted that “farmers residing in the community will have within easy reach a farm where the most approved farming methods are carried on.”260 The modern farming methods of the CPR on their demonstration and supply farms were part of their commitment to quality and consistency.
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (65A), 1 June 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 9. 260
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (67A), 1 August 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 8.
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In the August 1914 issue of the Bulletin, the consistency of the CPR dining car menu was stressed. Noting that “a steak is a steak, chicken Maryland is chicken Maryland… the same amount, the same price, and the same way served” regardless of locale.261 Featuring an interior
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (67A), 1 August 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 7. The Bulletin showed the cleanliness and quality of the CPR’s bakery buildings to further demonstrate their modernity.
photograph of one of the CPR’s bakeries and an exterior shot of a commissary building, the next page also featured a commitment to consistency. The interior of the bakery is notably very clean, and featured men wearing white uniforms, large windows, and racks of freshly made buns. The white uniforms, large windows and orderly positioned loaf racks stressed the cleanliness of the entire operation, and the article stressed that the company made its “own bread, rolls, pies, cake, ice cream, etc., insuring standard quality of these important items.”262 By not providing the specific location of the bakery and commissary building and instead captioning the photograph with “ONE OF OUR COMMISSARY BUILDINGS” the Bulletin suggested their consistency of
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (67A), 1 August 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 6. 262
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (67A), 1 August 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 7.
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dining experience extended all the way back to its preparation stages – it didn’t matter where the food was made, it was the same along the line.263 The reputation that the Canadian Pacific Railway gained from its consistency from the growing and production of food to its preparation and serving would have also made it an example of fine dining in Western Canada. The company’s implementation and commitment to ensuring food quality and cleanliness fit into the broader public health movements of the period,264 and the food that it served was certainly better than what immigrants would have been able to prepare for themselves on the small colonist car stoves.265 CPR dining car and dining room menus from the 1900s through the 1920s matched the company’s intentions to be a promoter of national goods,266 but also demonstrated the role the company had in promoting and establishing a Western Canadian identity that incorporated the region into a broader national identity and as a region that was capable of providing the same comforts and sophistication that were available elsewhere.
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (67A), 1 August 1914, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 7. 264
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (78A), 1 July 1915, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 3. The dining and sleeping car services page featured an article titled “The Why of Dietetic Blended Food,” followed by facsimiles of their menus that included “suggestions for Dietetic Blended food.” This feature included a note from Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, who explained that the purpose of the diet was to provide the four essential elements of food (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and minerals) and that the CPR dining car menus had been arranged to provide a “nourishing and wholesome” meal that was properly blended. 265
Douglas Sladen, On the cars and off : being the journal of a pilgrimage along the Queen's Highway to the east from Halifax in Nova Scotia to Victoria in Vancouver's Island (London: Warwick House, 1895), 228. Sladen notes that colonist car passengers had to bring their own food and bedding to travel across the country. 266
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Bulletin (NO,), Date, Montreal, Canadian Pacific Archives at ExpoRail, St. Constant, QC, 4.
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Feeding Western Canadian Identity The CPR produced a yearly information pamphlet for agents “Regarding Travel in the Rockies.” These included fairly detailed descriptions of each of the company’s hotels, tea houses, and bungalow camps and their amenities. Dining facilities appear to have been Dining at Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Alberta. [ca. 1924]. NA4465-10, Glenbow Archives. Pamphlets featured the views and the quality of service that guests could receive at the Banff Springs Hotel dining rooms.
a particularly strong selling point for hotels; the Banff Springs Hotel
boasted public dining rooms, the Alhambra (seating 350) and the Fairholme (seating 600), that were guaranteed to be open from 6:30am to 12:00 midnight every day. The pamphlet also made note of the cost of meals, “breakfast being $1.25, lunch $1.50, and dinner $2.00” all of which were available à la carte and table d’hote.267 The Banff Springs Hotel dining rooms’ size and hours were used to promote the grandness of the hotel and suggests that the CPR intended to demonstrate that its facilities, though in the Canadian wilderness, provided services comparable to those found in Eastern Canada, the United States, and Europe. The pamphlet contained information on the Chateau Lake Louise about its dining facilities similar to the information on
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Lines Detailed Information for Agents Regarding Travel in the Rockies, circa 1920s, Info File Canadian Pacific Railway 1911-1939, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB, 7.
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the Banff Springs, while also boasting that “the magnificent dining-room, with large plate-glass windows” allowed guests to view the lake-side scenery while dining.268 The beauty of Western Canada’s Rocky Mountains is further used in advertising the CPR’s teahouses which were “located at suitable hiking distance from the resort hotels and bungalow camps and at vantage points of
Associated Screen News Limited (Publisher), Dining room Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta. Montreal: Published by Associated Screen News Limited Montreal, [after 1930], PC008473, Peel’s Prairie Provinces. Advertisements for the Chateau Lake Louise focused on both the modern comfort of the facilities and the majesty of the wilderness. The dining room at the Chateau offered views of the lake and mountains.
unusual interest and beauty.”269 CPR bungalow camps were primarily more informal and cheaper than resort hotels and featured rustic log and frame buildings set among the “Alpine districts of exceptional beauty.” Meals were advertised as “good and substantial.”270 The hotel, bungalow camp, and teahouse advertising focused on the wilderness that tourists would experience while visiting the Rockies; this included their dining experience. While tourists enjoyed the picturesque
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Lines Detailed Information for Agents Regarding Travel in the Rockies, circa 1920s, Info File Canadian Pacific Railway 1911-1939, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB, 15. 269
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Lines Detailed Information for Agents Regarding Travel in the Rockies, circa 1920s, Info File Canadian Pacific Railway 1911-1939, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB, 38. 270
Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway Lines Detailed Information for Agents Regarding Travel in the Rockies, circa 1920s, Info File Canadian Pacific Railway 1911-1939, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB, 26.
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wilderness, they were not expected to forgo the comforts that modern hotel and dining experiences offered them; what the CPR advertisements said to potential clients was that Western Canada offered wilderness and nature, while also being cultured, sophisticated and civilized. Popular locations, such as Chateau Lake Louise had special drink and soda fountain menus. The names of the beverages betray the tourist nature of the hotel: “Chinook Beer” and “Alberta Pride Beer” took their names from the location of the lake and a local weather phenomenon. Ice Nectars, (ice cream mixed with flavoured syrup, ginger ale and topped with whipped cream) were named after flowers like columbine, orange blossoms, lilacs, “New Mown Hay,” and hyacinth, with the exception of one called “Rose Marie.”271 Written in 1924 by operetta greats Rudolf Friml, Herbert Stothart, Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstien II, Rose Marie: Romance of the Canadian Rockies, was adapted to silent film by 1928.272 It is quite likely that the hotel beverage menu from the 1920s was utilizing the name for its popular association with Canada. The Chateau’s ice cream sundaes also took their names from the local surroundings; Alberta, Banff, Mount Rundle, Cascade, Windermere, Bow Valley, Mount Edith, Minnewanka, Three Sisters, Vermillion, Moraine, Emerald, Glacier, Golden and Yoho all had sundaes named after them. Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream and lemon or orange “water ice” formed the base for the sundaes. The sundae toppings were, for the most part, not locally available ingredients but exotic imported ones like cocoanut, oranges, pistachio nuts, bananas, and
Chateau Lake Louise Menu, circa 1920s, 89.131, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB.
Rudolf Friml and Herbert Stothart, Rose Marie: Romance of the Canadian Rockies, libretto by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstien II (New York: Harms, 1924); Rose Marie, Directed by Lucien Hubbard (1928; Beverly Hills, CA: MGM).
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pineapples. Some fruit ingredients like peaches, grapes and cherries could easily have been acquired from the Okanagan Valley, and it is likely that the cream used for the ice cream and whipped cream came from nearby farms.273 Tourist attractions like Chateau Lake Louise catered to the rich, and capitalized not only on the sophistication of the wealthy,274 but used local names for novelties like ice creams and ice nectars to capitalize on the expectations of tourists by creating treats that could be associated with the places they had come to see. The Canadian Pacific Railway hotels and dining cars offered travellers hors d’oeuvres, soups, fish, specials to order, entrees, roasts, cold dishes, vegetables, and sweets. In 1929, Calgary’s Hotel Palliser offered diners “Fresh Caviar,” “French Sardines in Oil,” “Imported Pate de Fois Gras,” “Chow Chow,” oysters prepared in a variety of ways, shrimp, and crab. Fancy French names signified the higher class of the establishment; “Aiguillette of Chicken Halibut, Daumont,” “Planked Sirloin Steak Bouquetiere,” and “Baked Sugar Cured Ham with Noodles Chanoinesse” (a poor attempt at Chinoise) demonstrated the status associated with dining at a CPR hotel.275 The Palliser was not attempting to distinguish itself as a Western Canadian institution by offering a localized fare, but was conforming to the expectations of its status in spite of its location. The only food on the 1929 menu that suggests a tie to the locale is “Prime Ribs of Alberta Beef au Jus, Horseradish.”276 In 1923, the Palliser Hotel hosted a Royal Crown Soaps Limited Luncheon for The Lord Viscount Leverhulme and “Broiled Young Alberta Chicken” was served as the main course accompanied by “Potatoes au Gratin,” and sautéed
Chateau Lake Louise Menu, circa 1920s, 89.131, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives.
Ungar, “Nationalism on the Menu,” 354.
Hotel Palliser Menu circa 1929, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB.
Hotel Palliser Menu circa 1929, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives.
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Brussels sprouts.277 Beef from Alberta in the 1920s seems to have held particular importance on the menu, just as it was important to assert that the main dish of chicken was raised in Alberta on a special event menu. While menus reveal the need to be portrayed just as cultured as the East, there was still clearly a pride in locally raised meat. The pride in local and Canadian food was also strongly featured on the menus during the 1939 Royal Tour. In May and June of 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were the first reigning monarchs to visit Canada. They travelled from coast to coast and back again, stopping at major cities and smaller towns in each province along the way and enjoying meals at several of the Canadian Pacific Railway Hotels.278 The Hotel Palliser, like the CPR hotels that participated in the 1939 Royal Tour, shared “the qualities of theatricality in the service of social cohesion and national pride.” The Royal Tour’s meals were well examined in the print media of the day and provided the public an escape from the Depression era “privations and anxieties.” The meals that were served “fit easily into the category of symbol and fantasy.”279 The special event menu of Crown Soaps Luncheon and the typical menu of the Palliser, like the menus offered on the Royal Tour, “were edible expressions of a national pride, representing Canadians’ collective ability to produce foodstuffs of the highest quality,” that could be made into sophisticated dishes while also “preserving their more casual, democratic Canadian identity.” The meals served at CPR hotels acknowledged the British heritage of the nation, while also including items on the menu that recalled the “varied European pasts of certain provinces or
Hotel Palliser Menu 1923, M6900, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB.
Carolyn Harris, “1939 Royal Tour,” in The Canadian Encyclopedia, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/1939-royal-tour/ (accessed 4 January 2016); Molly Pulyer Ungar, “Nationalism on the Menu: Three Banquets on the 1939 Royal Tour,” in Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012), 351-352. 278
Ungar, “Nationalism on the Menu,” 352.
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localities.”280 The provincial location of the particular CPR hotel did not matter as much as its connection to the broader Canadian context. Specific references to “Alberta Chicken” and “Alberta Beef” surrounded by other foods “established Canada’s national identity as a product of its provincial history and local characteristics,” while a large number of French names used on the Palliser’s menu still capitalized “on the cachet of foreign travel and sophistication available only to the wealthy.”281 Menus also reveal a balancing act between French haute cuisine and the promotion of Canada. On a 1917 dinner menu from the Banff Springs Hotel, which featured an artistic illustration of the hotel and the Rocky Mountains in the background, certain foods were very clearly imported while the Canadian-ness of certain items was implied due to the location. “Devilled Sardine Canape,” “Cantaloupe Salad with French Dressing,” and “Sultana Pudding Raisin Sauce,” contained clearly imported items, which would have highlighted the ability of the CPR to bring items from around the world to the Canadian interior. Items which would have more than likely been grown on one of the company’s supply and demonstration farms were not noted as such, but were on the menu alongside French cuisine. “Consomme Brunoise,” “Beef Broth a l’Anglaise,” “Broiled Lake Trout Hoteliere,” Colloped of Chicken with Poached Eggs,” “Carrots Flamande” were made from Canadian ingredients that the Banff Springs Hotel’s chef transformed into the high class French cuisine.282 The focus of this particular menu was not the Canadian origin of the dishes, but the ability of Canadians to offer tourists the same food that the expected from high class hotels everywhere. The Canadian origin of items was not as important
Ungar, “Nationalism on the Menu,” 352-3.
Ungar, “Nationalism on the Menu,” 354; Hotel Palliser Menu circa 1929, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives.
Banff Springs Hotel Menu, 15 August 1917, Info File Banff Springs Hotel to 1930, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB.
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on the everyday hotels menus as the class of the food that was being served. Similarly, the local and Canada origin of food was of more importance on the menus for special events and dining cars.
Dining Car Menus and Illustrating the West In an 1888 advertising booklet, The Canadian Pacific Railway: The New Highway to the East, Across the Mountains, Prairies & Rivers of Canada, the CPR focused some of its attention on dining. The company made its intentions to dazzle its customers with its services clear: “A dining-car is attached to our train,—a marvel of comfort and convenience,—and we experience a new and delightful sensation in breakfasting and dining at our east and in luxury, as we fly along through such wonderful scenery.”283 An advertisement near the back of the book further stressed the “Elegance of Design and Furniture” and the “Quality of Food and Attendance… offered to Transcontinental Travellers.” Stating that, “The fare provided is the best procurable, and the cooking has a wide reputation for excellence. Local delicacies, such as trout, prairie hens, antelope steaks, Fraser River salmon, succeed one another as the train moves westward,” suggests an early commitment to featuring quality Canadian food that continued and grew into the 20th century.284 Jean-Paul Viaud suggests that W. C. Van Horne chose not to offer French cuisine on his dining cars, instead opting to “draw attention to Canada’s exoticism by serving
The Canadian Pacific Railway: The New Highway to the East, Across the Mountains, Prairies & Rivers of Canada, Canadian Pacific Railway Company, 1888, 15. 284
The Canadian Pacific Railway: The New Highway to the East, Across the Mountains, Prairies & Rivers of Canada, Canadian Pacific Railway Company, 1888, 47.
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products from every region where his trains travelled.”285 This however, does not fit with the general dining trends of the late-19th and early-20th centuries as highlighted by Andrew Haley, who notes the supremacy of French cuisine by Americans.286 The CPR dining car managers may have chosen to feature local ingredients and not to include French on the menus, but it is likely that the methods used to prepare the food were still heavily influenced by the French tradition.287 The choice to feature local food on dining cars prior to the opening of the commissary depots would have also been heavily influenced by the limitations of food preservation during the earlier years of the CPR’s operations, and the difficulty of storing and preparing food in the limited confines of a dining car kitchen. Dining car menus offer another look into how the Canadian West was written through menus. As has been the case with most of the menus that were examined in the previous chapter, food represented the generally British-Canadian culture of the West. Menus at Canadian Pacific Hotels differed from the company’s railway dining car menus in the language used to name dishes. In the 1920s, the United States experienced a revolution in eating habits and “traditional hotel dining rooms and higher-class restaurants tried to survive by adopting to the new currents.” Some adopted exotic décor, and others attempted to profit from the new health conscious population; many restaurants found it easiest to abandon their “gigantic old menus with their vast
Jean-Paul Viaud, “Dining railway-style in North America,” in 100 Years of Canadian Railway Recipes: All aboard for an historic dining experience!, Ed. Marie-Paule Partikian and Jean-Paul Viaud (St. Constant: Exporail, The Canadian Railway Museum, 2014), 18. 285
Haley, Turning the Tables.
There do not appear to be any menus surviving or accessible from CPR dining cars prior to the 1910s. Additionally, records related to employees of the CPR are not available to the public, which makes it impossible to determine who the chefs for the dining cars were.
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array of French or American dishes” and replaced them with more straightforward “American” ones.288 Three pre-1920s examples of Canadian Pacific dining car menus from the Morant family’s fonds at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies highlight the importance that the images used on their menus held. Several items on the back of the menu are preserved, but the main Canadian Pacific Railway Menus, pre-1920, M300/C1/7, Morant family fonds, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB. One of three partial dining car menus from pre-1920. It was saved for the photograph on the front, leaving only a partial sampling of the dishes served on the back.
focus of the family was to preserve the colourised images of Rocky Mountain lakes, hotels, and valleys on the front of the menus, meaning that
over half of each menu, taken from the top and bottom, are lost. The few items that are visible on the menus, like “Lake Winnipeg Whitefish,” and “Canadian Cheese,” showed the importance of Canadian food to the company that was also stressed in their company Bulletin. Serving “Sherry Wine Jelly,” “Veal Cutlets, Curried,” “Roast Loin of Pork,” duck, “Chestnut Salad,” and “Pistachio Jelly,” these earlier dining car menus show the changing nature of dining in North America; no unnecessary French appeared on the menus, but the food that was served at the time was still of a relatively traditional upper-class nature.289 While dining cars featured local foods and do not appear to have used large amounts of French on menus, CPR hotels maintained the use of French on their menus. A Banff Springs
Harvey Levenstein, Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 191. 289
Canadian Pacific Railway Menus, pre-1920, M300/C1/7, Morant family fonds, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB.
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Hotel menu from 1927 offered its more sophisticated diners “Broiled Shad and Roe, Maitre d’Hotel” and “Paupiette of Veal, Chatham,” it also offered a more Western Canadian dish – “Braised Fresh Ox Tongue” – though it was still prepared “Florentine.”290 The maintenance of French on the menus in Canadian Pacific Hotel dining rooms established the company’s elitism and their intended hotel guest; using French on the menu was “more than a subtle allusion to the aristocratic origins of the restaurant; it was a passkey to culture that excluded those where were not wealthy, traveled, and educated.”291 There was a lingering element of status to be represented through the cuisine of the Canadian Pacific Hotels, while the dining car menus were more representative of the changes occurring in middle-class American restaurants.292 Difficult-topronounce French names were almost completely removed from menus catering to a less elite class.293 The new food habits of Americans revealed that the middle-class “was not impressed by French names on the menu.” Simpler foods were in demand,294 and it seems, were necessary on a travelling dining car. A quick examination of a 1927 dining car breakfast menu titled “Railroading in the Rockies” reveals a company in line with trends of the day. No French appeared on the menu that offered travellers “Stewed Prunes with Cream,” “Grape Fruit (Half),” “Grapes,” and “Cereals with Milk” for breakfast. For a heartier morning meal fish or meats from the grill were available. “Fried Tomatoes with Bacon,” “French Toast with Jelly,” and “Creamed Diced Chicken, Green
Banff Springs Hotel Menu 1927, 89.131, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB.
Haley, Turning the Tables, 32.
The French that was used on CPR menus was strictly in reference to traditional haute cuisine and was not related to French-Canada, whose cuisine would likely have been seen as too simple and unimpressive. 293
Levenstein, Revolution at the Table, 191-2.
Levenstein, Revolution at the Table, 191-2.
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Peppers” were listed as specials, and the second side of the menu was filled out with “Eggs, Omelets, Etc.,” “British Columbia Potatoes,” “Bread and Butter Service per Person,” “Preserved Fruits, Marmalades, Jams or Jellies” and beverages. The 1927 Canadian Pacific menu listed the origins of five menu items: “Baked Okanagan Apple,” “Broiled or Fried Lake Superior Trout or Whitefish,” “British Columbia Potatoes,” “Griddle Cakes with Canadian Maple Syrup,” and “Individual Canadian Comb or Strained Honey.”295 Two lunch menus from the same time period did not list the origins of the majority of their ingredients; however sardines, were listed as “imported” and the “British Columbia Potatoes” could be ordered in Lyonnaise style. The Okanagan apples were also available, in addition to “Canadian Cheddar” cheese. Both the midday menus and an evening a la carte menu listed the Canadian named “Thousand Island Dressing,” and a 1923 breakfast menu offered “Grilled Canadian Bacon” to diners.296 As with the Palliser Hotel menus and the Royal Tour menus from twelve years later, the Canadian Pacific Railway’s dining cars asserted a Canadian identity that traveled from coast to coast and through the Canadian West, making it a participant in national identity.297 The generally uniform nature of the menus was likely a result of the uniform nature of food offered on the chain of CPR dining cars. Though they did highlight some regional ingredients, like Okanagan apples, dining car
“Railroading in the Rockies,” Canadian Pacific Dining Car Menu, 727, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB. 295
“Early Transportation on the Red River Trail,” Canadian Pacific Dining Car Menu circa 1920s, M6900, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB; “Through the Canadian Pacific Rockies,” Canadian Pacific Dining Car Menu 1927, M6900, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB; Canadian Pacific Dining Car Service Menu circa 1920s, M6900, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB; Canadian Pacific Breakfast Menu 1923, M6900, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB. 296
Ungar, “Nationalism on the Menu,” 351-358.
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menus clearly promoted a national Canadian identity over a regionalised Western one. The Canadian Pacific Railway dining car menus provided travellers not only with food choices that represented a national Canadian identity, but with short historical tidbits and illustrations. Breakfast in 1927 had a cover page with a train going “Through the Canadian Pacific Rockies.” A second mode of transport, a pack mule, also trekked its way leisurely up the mountain.298 On another dining car menu, breakfast was served quite literally with a side of facts (the menu had fold outs on both sides). Patrons opened their menus to find information about “Railroading in the Rockies” and the Canadian Pacific Railway’s
“Railroading in the Rockies,” Canadian Pacific Dining Car Menu, 727, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives. The front of dining car menus featured the contrasted industry and human ingenuity with the wilderness. Both exist in compliment to each other.
five-year completion of the “railway across the prairies and through the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast.” On the reverse side, patrons of the dining car could learn about the “Connaught Tunnel” that went “through Mount Macdonald… built to avoid the climb over the top of Rogers Pass.” At the time, the tunnel was the longest in America. The other fold out provides information about “The Spiral Tunnels,” which reduced the grade between the Hector and Field stations from “4.4 per cent” to “2.2 per cent,” and described the impressive engineering that made is possible for only two engines to pull a large load through an area previously needing
“Through the Canadian Pacific Rockies,” Canadian Pacific Dining Car Menu 1927, M6900, Glenbow Archives.
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four. The fourth panel provided “Some Facts About the Canadian Pacific Rockies,” which included advertising the national parks, and the “Canadian Pacific mountain hotels – supplemented by bungalow camps.”299 The facts provided by the CPR on the dining car menus portrayed a Canadian West of impressive ingenuity. The CPR was an important part of national Canadian development, and its expansion linked the industries in Central Canada to the markets of the developing West, which in turn benefited “by gaining a new market for its grain and cattle.”300 As Michael Dawson notes in his book Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture, 1890-1970, “tourists travelled to escape the hectic pace of modern life” and for the restorative relaxation offered by vacation. Vacations were seen as key to helping maintain “an orderly and productive society,” and the healthy mentality of city dwellers.301 In addition to the notion that tourism offered an opportunity to reconnect with nature in a way that cities didn’t offer, the information and images appearing on CPR menus demonstrated the company’s appeal to “an interest in conquering or controlling nature combined with a fascination with scientific achievements.”302 Using images of the Banff Springs Hotel, The Spiral Tunnels, or the TransCanada Limited winding its way along the Bow River Valley, showed how human ingenuity could create a technology that simultaneously conquered nature while existing in harmony with it. The CPR knew that tourism was an important source of income, and did its best to fulfill the
“Railroading in the Rockies,” Canadian Pacific Dining Car Menu, 727, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives.
John A. Eagle, The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Development of Western Canada (Montreal: McGillQueen’s University Press, 1989), 258. 301
Michael Dawson, Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture, 1890-1970 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2004), 17, 18. 302
Dawson, Selling British Columbia, 22.
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expectations of the “first-class passengers who brought in the largest revenue” of all their customers.303 The contrast between the country-spanning CPR and the early transportation by oxen was made on a mid-day menu with a coloured print titled “Early Transportation on the Red River Trail.” The illustration portrays First Nations riding travois-carrying horses, and oxen pulling the Métis’ Red CPR Dining Car Menu, Glenbow Archives, Menus 1920-1929. This menu contrasted the early transportation in the West with the luxury of ordering fine food while travelling quickly across the country. It also uses images of First Nations to portray an imagined West.
River carts. The picture is bordered with art depicting a rather savage looking First Nations man, a tipi, pipe, bow and
arrows, and sashes with a Native-style design.304 The food in the menu is not related to the cover illustration, and the image intentionally highlights the contrast between early transportation in the West and the modern traveller who could order à la carte while moving quickly across the prairies by train. Since there was money to be made transporting tourists from Montreal ports to the Western Canadian Rocky Mountains, the CPR used western romanticized regional images of First Nations, Red River Carts, the Rocky Mountains, their tunnels and hotels, and activities like
Eagle, The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Development of Western Canada, 149.
“Early Transportation on the Red River Trail,” Canadian Pacific Dining Car Menu circa 1920s, M6900, Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives. 304
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hiking and camping and history to appeal to a western tourist trade and fulfill their expectations of the West.305
Non-CPR Tourism and the Menu Several menus from hotels in the Banff area revealed the similar use of food to demonstrate the class (or the presumption of class) and identity of an establishment and its community. At the Sanitarium Hotel in 1909, “Puree of Chicken,” “Boiled Salmon: Hollandaise Sauce,” “Pear Fritters,” Stewed Tripe, Creole,” “Curried Lobster and Rice,” “Prime Ribs of Beef au jus,” “Leg of Veal with Dressing,” “Boiled and Mashed Potatoes,” “Sugar Beets,” “Stewed Marmalade Pudding” and “Lemon Pie,” were served for dinner. These items were a balance of fine cuisine with clear connections to a British way of cooking (boiled, stewed, roasted). Items like “Pineapple Icecream,” “Pear Fritters,” and “Curried Lobster and Rice,” would have relied upon importation, and the dining room’s ability to bring these items to the Rockies suggests that the Sanitarium Hotel was successful enough to do so. “Canadian Stilton and MacLaren’s” cheeses were importantly noted as being Canadian, just as the CPR did with its cheeses.306 A 1913 Thanksgiving Dinner menu for the Mount Royal Hotel in Banff similarly balanced the status of French haute cuisine with the provision of typically British fare and locally available food stuffs with the status of importing other items. “Anchovy Toast,” and “Cream of Baltimore Oysters,” “Boiled Sea Bass” and “Green Olives,” were all obviously items that had been imported. Other items, like beef, potatoes, and vegetables, were more than likely produced in Western Canada and brought into the National Park. Other items on the Mount Royal Hotel
Menus 1920-1929, Glenbow Archives.
Sanitarium Hotel Menu, ca. 1909, LUX/I/E2, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB.
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menu, like “Chicken Livers Saute in Cases, a la Financiere,” “Veal Sweetbread Croquettes, Aurora,” and “Consomme Royal” contrasts more clearly British foods with the use of French to describe the cooking techniques used to prepare the item and the sauces that accompanied them. Other items, like “Roast Prime Ribs of Beef, Yorkshire Pudding,” “English Plum Pudding,” and “Fruit Cake,” are more clearly British in their origins.307 These menus contained items that were, overall, very similar to the items that appeared on the CPR dining room and car menus. This suggests a uniformity of taste amongst patrons and similar aims in appealing to tourists, and one can assume that their proximity to the CPR’s Banff Springs Hotel would have influenced other local Banff establishments’ menus. What is different is the greater focus by the Canadian Pacific Railway on providing quality and clearly Canadian items, emphasizing the uniformity and similarities of the country over the differences of the regions in both its internal literature on food and on their menus.
Western Canada as Canadian The influence of the Canadian Pacific Railway on the incorporation of Western Canada into a broader Canadian identity was done through promoting the wildness of a Western Canadian setting and past with the sophistication that the company offered through the dining experiences they offered both on the rails and in hotels. This was achieved by stressing the consistent quality of the company’s ingredients, preparation facilities, appearance of various regional Canadian foods on menus, and the incorporation of images and information on menus. As the majority of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s food related endeavours focused on the tourist
Mount Royal Hotel Menu, 1913, LUX/I/E-, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB.
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trade and those who were wealthy enough to afford to travel, they provided one of the few options for high-class dining in Western Canada; making the company a public dining establishment to emulate. What appeared on non-CPR menus in Banff suggests that there was a benefit in appealing to an appetite informed by British tastes, while also suggesting that eating out was a special experience that required something more than everyday fare available at home.
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Conclusion: Western Canada on the Menu In 1911, when Roy and Lina Beavers arrived in Calgary to set up the Club Cafe they joined a volatile industry. Their success as restauranteurs was Cowboy on horse exiting from Club Cafe, Calgary, Alberta, July 1923, NA-2768-4, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, AB. This same photograph appeared on the front page of the Calgary Daily Herald on 10 July 1923 as “Ride Horse into Restaurant.” The caption read “This was one of the many incidents that enlivened the ‘morning stampede’ held on Eighth avenue.”
unusual, and their role in the development of
Calgary’s culinary life and reputation was a result of their success in taking the changing needs of their customers and their community into consideration. With the continued success of the Club Cafe the Beavers became active community members, with Mr. Beavers involving himself with the Calgary Booster Club and the Calgary Stampede and Exhibition. As a former carnival employee, Mr. Beavers’ exhibitionism came to the forefront at the café on 10 July 1923 when he had cowboy Eddie King ride his horse Tony through the decorated restaurant. The stunt appeared on the front page of the Calgary Herald the same day.308 The use of Western themed menu art and restaurant décor that the Club Cafe eagerly embraced during the first annual Calgary Stampede was an acceptance of the same regionalised frontier identity that the Canadian Pacific Railway assigned to the West through menu and advertisement art. The Club Cafe was a part of
Finding aid, Beavers family fonds, Glenbow Archives; Calgary Daily Herald, 10 July 1923, 1.
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the changing West; it profited and survived by embracing a Western Canadian identity that asserted that respectability, modernity, and sophistication made it equal to the rest of Canada. Into the 1920s, the café and its owners embraced and benefited from a Western identity that began to stress regional difference over national similarities. Dessert: Influence of Public Dining Public dining during the years surrounding the turn of the twentieth century played an important role in the development of Western Canadian cultural and social identity. Restaurants, as products of their locale, were influenced by the same societal changes that effected the people who owned, worked in, or patronised them. Sources from restaurants, cafés, lunch counters, dining cars, and hotel dining rooms all provide insight into the cuisine consumed at public dining establishments in the region. The characteristics as public spaces parallel those of taverns in colonial Upper Canada.309 Set up along travel routes, taverns and restaurants served a primarily itinerant clientele but also acted as community meeting spaces. Both allowed women to participate as consumers and workers and included or excluded people based on race and class assumptions. However, with the exception of hotel dining rooms, public dining establishments on the Western Canadian frontier operated entirely in the public sphere.310 Restaurants were not permitted to serve alcohol,311 and were expected to be places of respectability, modernity, and sophistication while also acting as unconscious purveyors of community and regional identity. Reflections of identity began with the naming of a public dining establishment; some used names of well known places to suggest their own success and quality, but most names
Julia Roberts, In Mixed Company.
Julia Roberts, In Mixed Company.
Ramesy and Everitt, “Called to the Bar,” online source.
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suggested that Western Canadians found their identity in connection to the British Empire. Drawing on an inconsistent itinerant population for the majority of their business, cafés and restaurants were incredibly vulnerable to the economic challenges that faced small businesses. In areas that were becoming increasingly urbanized, some restaurants focused their efforts on providing a growing middle-class with affordable dining options; other restaurateurs recognised the benefits of operating their spaces as community spaces over commercial ones. Unfortunately, however, most public dining establishments did not provide their hard-working owners with a living profit.312 Public dining in the West emerged to meet the needs of an itinerant and bachelor population that had little access to kitchens or no desire to cook. The preparation of food, as a feminized task, provided women and Chinese men with options for economic independence in frontier and rural societies. However, in urban spaces, restaurants were seen as markers of sophistication and modernity that required the professional expertise of white men. Not afraid to use their whiteness and their gender to their advantage, white men blatantly suggested that Chinese owned establishments were threats to the values of respectable society and to women.313 Women were still permitted access to public dining spaces, provided they were there to fulfill gendered expectations of them as consumers and employees. The intersections of race, gender, and class within the public dining industry reveals the complex and, at times, conflicting expectations of society that changed with the demographics of the West. Concerned with respectability and portraying modernity and sophistication to travellers and locals alike, public dining establishments used the food on their menus to demonstrate their 312
Bliss, A Living Profit. Chapter 1 suggests that public dining establishments did not provide a living profit to owners, based on evidence that shows the frequent changes in ownership and closing of businesses. 313
Patricia Roy, A White Man’s Province, 243.
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status and identities. The items that appeared on menus suggested a complicated and changing regional identity that was found through connections to the British Empire, a frontier past, and participation in modern society. Items like curry, lamb and mint sauce, and plum pudding suggested strong ties to the British Empire while items like baked beans and ox-tail soup harkened back to the pioneering past of the region. Use of French on menus, regardless of the dishes actual origins, and the inclusion of “ethnic” cuisine alluded to an establishment’s quality and worldly sophistication. The picture that emerged from Western Canadian menus suggested that the region considered itself to be a cultural equal to the East, and an important member of the country and British Empire; national identity was stressed over regionalism. Much of the cuisine that appeared on menus in Western Canada was influenced by an assumption of status and modernity. These two ideas were best assumed and represented in the region by the Canadian Pacific Railway in its dining cars and dining rooms. The aim of the CPR’s dining services to provide customers with quality started with the ingredients used. To fully demonstrate commitment to quality and modernity, the CPR used its experimental and supply farms to demonstrate modern farming technology and techniques, and to grow superior ingredients year-round for use on its dining cars and in its dining rooms. As a national operation, the company ensured consistency throughout its transportation operations by building commissary depots with up-to-date food preparation facilities. On its menus, the CPR emphasised modernity and status by contrasting it with the scenery of the Canadian wilderness that appealed to customers. Dining car menus featured tidbits that demonstrated the triumph of modern technology over the wilderness, and further emphasised the company’s modernity by following the fashionable elimination of French on the menu and introducing new dietary trends. At its grand hotels, dining rooms provided views of the Canadian wilderness, while customers
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dined in elegant fashion within them. Menus at hotels maintained a certain element of status by continuing to serve French haute cuisine. Finally, the CPR also featured a commitment to showcasing localized cuisine and art in an effort to appeal to the tastes and expectations of the tourists it brought West. The nature of the sources that have been investigated in this thesis portray only a small period of public dining and food history in Western Canada. Questions still remain about experiences of public dining in both the pre-railway era and in the years following the 1920s and how they influenced and were influenced by the experiences examined in this thesis. The experiences and expectations of restaurateurs and their businesses during the First World War were not addressed here, but certainly warrants further investigation. While menus have offered a glimpse into the foodways of Western Canada, there is still more to be learned about the preparation of the dishes that appeared on them and about food prepared within the home. The involvement of the CPR in agriculture and the introduction of modern farming techniques, food preparation, and public health offers a wealth of further research opportunities. Public dining was characterised by expectations and assumptions that helped to form the identity of Western Canada and represent it to those who interacted within restaurants and cafés. As public spaces and businesses, public dining establishments attempted to conduct themselves respectably. The stories that have been relayed above are part of Western Canada’s history; they reflect the social, economic, and cultural changes that occurred during the late-19th and early20th centuries and contribute to the understanding of region with a complex, and at times, conflicting identity.
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