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Menus and Gastronomy Collection (C285)

Menu of the Empress of Britain to celebrate Confederation (detail), 1918. Menus and Gastronomy Collection C285, C285/C1.1 © McCord Museum

A patriotic menu to celebrate Confederation

On July 1, 1918, a Canadian-themed menu was offered to passengers on the Empress of Britain, a transatlantic ocean liner that had been commandeered in 1915 to transport troops to the European front. This festive bill of fare featured a patriotic mix of Quebec consommé, Nova Scotia halibut with Borden sauce, Ontario beef sirloin and Manitoba cauliflower.

In addition to reflecting Canadian food habits and practices associated with marking Dominion Day, this menu conveyed the spirit of a nation at war, although its tone was not as engaged and provocative as that of patriotic menus produced elsewhere, notably in France. This document also illustrates how Canadian businesses (Canadian Pacific Ocean Services, in this case) helped strengthen national identity and patriotism.

In 1919, the Empress of Britain returned to commercial service between Quebec City and Liverpool.

C285 Menus and Gastronomy. - 1853-2004. - 29.5 cm of textual records.

Scope and Content

This collection focusses on the cuisine and rituals of dinner events, in both restaurants and on certain carriers between 1853 and the 2000s. More specifically, it illustrates culinary preferences, the ingredients available, the dishes served in restaurants and on board certain carriers, the cost of meals, and the customs and decorum associated with serving meals during the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. The collection also chronicles the dinner activities of clubs and associations, as well as banquets and receptions held on holidays or to commemorate individuals and events. Furthermore, it documents the advertising approaches of certain restaurants, the opinions expressed by certain restaurant critics and tourism-related food trends.

The majority of the documents are from the Montreal region, but several other cities are represented as well, including London, Paris, Ottawa, Cologne and Quebec City. The collection contains menus, invitations, gala programs and lists of toasts, seating plans, flyers, tourist and promotional brochures, press clippings and guides. Most of these records are printed documents.

Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the collection.

Immediate source of acquisition: The menus in this collection come from various sources. Some were collected by David Ross McCord, others by David M. Lank and Marjorie Gawley.

Arrangement: A document that was previously preserved in the Nancy Gates Collection (C641) was integrated into the C285 collection.

Language: The documents are in English and French, but primarily in English.

Finding aids: There is an inventory of the records in the collection.

Accruals: Further accruals are expected.

The collection is divided into the following series, subseries and files:


Last update: August 30, 2017