Sunday, October 9, 2016

Canadian Thanksgiving

There was an article in the NY Times this weekend about Canadian Thanksgiving. Having spent 16 years living in the US, I can write emphatically that Thanksgiving here has little in common with the out-sized American version of the holiday. Here it's simply a long weekend in October (it always coincides with America's Columbus Day weekend). The holiday is on the Monday, but most families I know have their big dinner on the Sunday, reflecting the fact that the Canadian holiday seems to have grown out of Church of England Harvest Sunday celebrations (also, anyone travelling needs the Monday to get back to where they came from). In Canada, the holiday is not much more than an excuse for university kids to go home for a few days, especially if they're only a short train trip away. Sorry, Isabel, we missed you! Since there are only three days, few Canadians fly home for Thanksgiving. Who wants to spend two of three days at airports? So, although the trains and roads are busier than usual, this is not the blockbuster travel weekend that America experiences every November. Our big holiday is Christmas, possibly because it's extended by Boxing Day.
Next there are the food differences. First off, there seems to be a lot less food "hype" here. I was always amazed, when we lived in DC, at the enormous focus on Thanksgiving food. It was talked about everywhere--in the media, at the supermarkets, with friends. Sure, we have a special meal here, but it all seems more like something you take in stride. And what's eaten is different. Yes, we usually have turkey. This year, as usual, I ordered a boneless turkey breast (turkey meat rolled and wrapped in skin) from my local butcher at Bearances Grocery. I guess it's the vegetables and the "sides" (for some reason I loathe that word) that make for the big difference. I write here about Eastern Ontario Thanksgiving food. It's the tradition I know. No candied sweet potatoes. You'd have trouble finding marshmallow fluff at the store. Green beans aren't especially popular. They're not in season at this time of year, and anyway, almost everyone here prefers the more tender yellow wax beans. What you will find are lots of local, fall vegetables like brussels sprouts, winter squashes, parsnips, and turnips (by which I mean yellow turnips or "rutabagas"). What to do with the latter? Try this, one of our fave recipes. As for dessert, apple or pumpkin pie dominate. You won't see graham cracker crusts on your pumpkin pie either, just old-fashioned pastry.
We've had our turkey, cranberry sauce,

 braised carrots and parsnips,


 stuffing (which I make in a casserole dish, not inside the turkey),

and pumpkin pie.

French side of the can.

English side.

Then, James and I drove out to the Lemoine Point Conservation Area and got some exercise and fresh air.

Milkweed losing its fluff.

Michaelmas daisies.

Finally, I worked on getting Frostfern ready to re-issue this week.

I suspect previous owners might have brought our knocker back from a sabbatical in Italy.
See you in a couple of days!


  1. Looking forward to Frostfern. And - that is a beautiful shawl pin.

  2. My sister and I have made the same holiday meal forever: turkey, gravy, stuffing (Canadian Living recipe using Oomen's white bread bought at Glenburnie General Store) also cooked in a casserole and not in the bird, Elsie's potatoes (so we can prepare them ahead of time if we so choose), turnip, peas, cranberry jelly (from the can at Thanksgiving, homemade at Christmas). Often both apple and pumpkin pies, although this year it was an apple crisp. I have that same shawl pin - love it!

  3. Love Glenburnie General Store! Always stop there on my way home from Westport. So many of my fave recipes are from Canadian Living; I'll have to look for this one...

  4. The recipe is called: Old-Fashioned Stuffing and it's in the Canadian Living's Country Cooking book (1994). Found it here - different name, same recipe (I used double the amount of celery instead of fennel and celery):

  5. Love the walk after; I usually try and walk on the beach on Thanksgiving, but then I try and walk on the beach lots of day So! Love the pretty can of pumpkin. Going to Rhinebeck this year? If so, I'll look for you!

    1. Not this year, unfortunately. Too much going on with the house purchase and sale.

  6. Almost forgot to say how lovely the sweater looks! Gorgeous!

  7. I hate the word "sides" too. When I was growing up in Boston, Thanksgiving was a lot simpler than it is now. It wasn't a non-event holiday but it was taken in stride. Most families had turkey, stuffing, squash, mashed potatoes and a green vegetable. I never heard of marshmallows being made in squash casseroles or fried potato crisps on green beans until about the 1990's. I think cooking even at Thanksgiving has gone beyond the ridiculous because of the proliferation of cooking shows. Every cook or chef is trying to outdo the others. My grandmother was a great cook and she did it was a couple of pans, fresh food, and common sense. The same with her knitting. She wouldn't have understood all the fibers and patterns that are available today. Or the cost of knitting. She was the best knitter I have ever known (you are a close second). She had a fabric roll of needles, a neighborhood yarn shop nearby that stocked 100% wool and a few nice pattern books. We lived near the Berocco factory and they had a nice outlet shop too. With just those few items and shops, she created mohair cardigans, jumpers, reindeer sweaters, capes and socks. The sweater she was working on when she died was a Portuguese sweater in 100% raw wool. this Kardasian age, excess is more in Thanksgiving, cooking and knitting. One of the reasons I love your blog is because it depicts a sensible friendly and accessible lifestyle which includes good food, good knitting, domesticity and nature.

  8. Such kind words! We cut our TV cord years ago, which helps a bit in insulating us from some of the excess. Or, you could look at it another way and see us as simply out of touch!