Canadian cuisine history – What it is and where it’s made according to JustFly

As a country with relatively short origins in the grand scheme of global history, Canada doesn’t necessarily get the respect it deserves for its Canadian cuisine.

People often think Canada’s key traits revolve around an endless winter, ice hockey and apologising profusely. But there’s more to the country than meets the eye.

Schnitzels in Cornwall Ontario Canada Double-Barrelled Travel

Tucking in to some Canadian food in Canada

In fact, it may shock you to know that some of your favourite treats and meals possibly have a very Canadian cuisine heritage.

To dig deeper on the history of Canadian cuisine, I spoke with online travel agency JustFly. A company keenly aware of culinary trends and specialties, JustFly provided me with some Canadian foods and their respective backgrounds.

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Quebec City, Canada

Nanaimo Bars

This popular Western Canadian cuisine treat has very direct roots to its heritage honoured in its name. Nanaimo Bars were first made in and publicised in Nanaimo, British Columbia, first appearing in a cookbook in 1953, according to JustFly’s review.

Nanaimo Bars are very easy to make and require no baking. They are simply a wafer base with custard filling and a melted chocolate top layer. While the cookbook provides hard evidence of its invention, the concept of a Nanaimo Bar potentially dates back to 19th century Nanaimo bakers. Back then, the dish was known as a Chocolate Fridge Cake.

Nanaimo Bars are available worldwide and sometimes sold under different names like Prayer Bar in Minnesota.

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Nanaimo Bars

Beaver Tails

Beaver Tails are a relatively modern culinary invention but one that is hard to resist. The first Beaver Tail was sold in 1978, with eventual franchises springing up around the world.

The recipe itself is an old family one with no perceived origin date. But what exactly is a Beaver Tail? It is fried dough baked in the shape of a beaver’s tail – they never said they were healthy in Canada! Beaver Tails are often topped with various sweets or sugars and prove popular at winter festivals across Canada.

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A Beaver Tail restaurant in Canada

Maple Syrup

For starters, I am not talking about Aunt Jemima bottled ‘syrup’ which is available everywhere. I am talking about real, legit, pulled-from-a-tree maple syrup.

Maple syrup is a Canadian cuisine tradition dating back to before the official formation of the country. The maple syrup is made by extracting sap from maple trees and boiling out the water, leaving behind a sticky, sweet syrup. Most famously served with waffles, pancakes, or crepes; Canadians like to put maple syrup on ice and eating it like a popsicle.

But where is the best place to eat pure maple syrup? JustFly recommends checking out Quebec’s sugar shack scene. These rural attractions allow you to see how maple syrup is collected and made, and then serves a legit Canadian breakfast, slathered in maple syrup.

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Canadian maple syrup


Perhaps the most famous Canadian dish, poutine is the ultimate comfort food. A pile of french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy, the dish itself is very unhealthy, but who cares when it tastes that good?

The invention of poutine is up for serious debate with most Quebecois believing the small city of Drummondville is the home of poutine. The name itself may come from a restaurant patron who is believed to have said “ça va faire une maudite poutine” when asked about the dish. That more or less means the dish will be messy, but I don’t think poutine lovers mind.

Canadian cuisine poutine Double-Barrelled travel


And there you have it – a rundown of some of Canada’s best foods.

Which Canadian cuisine dish is your favourite?

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

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