In Acadia, New France and Upper Canada, there were sufficient crops, fish and livestock to feed the population, and the surplus was exported. By 1920, once our western interior had been settled, massive harvests of wheat, barley, oats and rye were exported worldwide. Canadian producers created similar markets in cattle, hogs, poultry, fruits, vegetables and dairy products after the Second World War.
In colonial New France and British North America, supplies of fish and game were abundant. Each region raised enough crops and livestock to meet its needs. By 1800, the diet of the middle class in Quebec consisted of 40% meats, 28% eggs and dairy products, and only 10% fruits and vegetables**.
The same people would set a table with salt-glazed clay plates, cups, bowls and jugs, and pewter forks, knives and spoons. Decorative and plain linens were common kitchen items. By 1960, the materials had changed to include glassware, stainless-steel flatware and china.
Canada published its first recipe book in 1831, based as much upon methods for curing foods as on ways of cooking them. Nineteenth-century diets varied according to region and occupation. Fur traders and Aboriginal hunters, for example, relied heavily on prepared foods like pemmican***, while railway work gangs, farm hands and lumberjacks ate large, calorie-rich meals three times a day****.
Town and city dwellers always needed rural or frontier food suppliers. Local butchers, milk and bread wagons were fundamental features of urban life up to the 1940s. But the biggest change in Canadian diets came with waves of immigrants who brought new staples of grains and meats, new forms of fruits and vegetables, new types of herbs or spices, along with novel ways of preparing their foods. And the people at large soon delighted in these varieties.
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