There’s a lot that makes Canada unique. USA’s northern neighbour is currently ranked as the most educated country in the world (over half of adults have college degrees), is home to more lakes than the rest of the world combined, and consumes more mac and cheese than any other country. While these are mostly braggable facts, any true Canadian or foreign foodie will scoff at the latter, given the tapestry of culinary delights that have emerged from regions across the country during Canada’s rich history.
With a unique blend of North American culture, combined with French influence, Canadian food is truly unlike any other — and we’re not just talking poutine and maple syrup (although don’t rule them out just yet). In fact, Canada offers almost 10 million square kilometres of undervalued delicacies.
Get this — when Men’s Health surveyed 10,000 Aussies aged 18-35, 84 per cent suggested that their favourite Canadian dish was poutine. Well Australia, we’re here to broaden your taste buds and blow your mind, because you haven’t experience Canada until you’ve truly eaten your way across the country.
We scoured the world’s second largest country, selflessly sampling everything from Montreal’s bagels, Vancouver’s craft beer, and Nova Scotia’s lobster rolls, to bring you the top stop-offs that will really give you a ‘taste’ of Canada. Buckle up, you’re in for a tasty ride.
BC Ale Trail, British Columbia
Take your Canadian adventure off the beaten track and try out one of BC’s seven ale trails. With a unique combo of adventure and craft beer the trails are arguably one of the best ways to see BC. Launching in 2016, the BC Craft-Beer route navigates groups to some of the most unique sites and notable breweries that not even the locals know about. This self-guided online tour allows you to work at your own pace so you nail every great snap and savour every last drop.
Plus, it is a great opportunity to meet the brewers, catch up on some local history and get to sample the best that each has to offer. There’s an option for every traveller. You can pick you trail based on your preferred duration, landscape and brew and let your thirst take you across the state.
Tourtiére, Old Quebec - Quebec City
In the historic district of Old Quebec, you can easily find yourself seated at a Parisian-style café, struggling to translate a French menu. Well learn this one dish off by heart; tourtière. This French-Canadian delicacy can be traced as far back as the 1600’s with flakey pastry and ground meat filling, lightly sprinkled with fresh seasoning and herbs. In Australian, that translates to the O.G meat pie.
Usually filled with beef, pork, or veal, this deep-dish pie is a Quebecois delicacy that is enjoyed year-round in the region, although more regularly enjoyed over the Christmas holiday period nation-wide. And while Canadians are also fellow tomato sauce lovers (none of this ketchup business thank you very much) this one is best enjoyed in its purest form.
Legend has it that the Tourtière was named after the ship it was baked on whilst en route to Canada. Now that is a historic meat pie!
Canadian Bacon, St Lawrence Market Toronto
It may sound simple, but two words that will make any guy’s mouth water; Canadian Bacon. I can hear the keyboard warriors now; “Bacon is not a ‘foodies’ choice! What gives?” Well bear with me fellow foodie (bear-themed pun definitely intended). Called ‘peameal bacon’ in Canada, what we know as Canadian Bacon is not just a mere ingredient sitting off to the side of your breakfast.
In the late 1890’s, England experienced a bacon shortage, so naturally the turned to their friends in the West. Why they didn’t ask France for bacon is a question better left for another time, however we’re eternally grateful they went to Canada. To transport the bacon across the Atlantic to England, Canadians brined pork loin before rolling it in cornmeal to keep it fresh on the journey. The result was a refreshing change from the pig belly of regular bacon, and another Canadian delicacy was born.
Make like a Toronto local and head straight to the home of the peameal bacon sandwich, St Lawrence Market. Since 1803 locals have made this their culinary focal point, and is a living history of the city’s gastronomic culture.
Saskatoon Berry Pie, Saskatchewan
For those who don’t have a map handy, Saskatchewan is the heartland of Canada. A flat province in the geographical centre of the nation, and home to the largest population of Indigenous people, and both the natural and cultural influences play a huge role in Saskatchewan food. Known as the ‘breadbasket of Canada’, the province is packed with chickpeas, barley, rye, oats, and surprisingly, produces almost 70 per cent of the world’s lentils . With these abundant resources, it makes sense that Saskatchewan has absolutely nailed baked goods. The Saskatoon Berry Pie is the number one delicacy, ubiquitous with festivals, markets, and nostalgic home cooked meals. Filled with the berries and baked into a pie using ingredients that feed the world, the pie is almost historic in nature, and a living, delicious, symbol of old meets new.
A stop that doesn’t feature in many Lonely Planet guidebooks, Mortlach is home to the Saskatoon Berry Festival, arguably Saskatchewan’s Berry Pie capital. “5000 people with purple teeth can’t be wrong,’ states the official website. We like those odds.
Good Cheer Trail, Nova Scotia
While the name of this region may conjure up visuals of a mid-90s rom-com, don’t be disheartened. In fact, you will probably want to make this the first stop on trip. Not only is the Good Cheer Trail home to some of Canada’s seafood (we’re talking fresh-off-the-boat lobster rolls), it’s home to over 50 of Canada’s best locally produced wine, beer, cider and spirit houses.
In fact , an official ‘passport’ to the Good Cheer Trail unlocks all of the finest food and drink in the entire region, even gamifying the experience as you aim to collect stamps from each winery, distillery, brewery and eatery. And while the greatest alcohol Canada has to offer is a serious bucket-list item, this is Men’s Health, and we just can’t go past the seafood in the region.
There are two separate seafood trails to follow within the Good Cheer Trail region; one for the chowder lovers, the aptly named Nova Scotia Chowder Trail, and the Nova Scotia Lobster Trail for the lobster fans. While both trails offer unmatched fresh seafood, the lobster in Nova Scotia is iconic, and the array of lobster dishes will keep you satisfied for a lifetime; lobster rolls, lobster poutine (there you go Aussies), lobster tacos, lobster eggs benedict, and lobster fondue are all on the menu. With that many choices in one region, you can afford to be a little ‘shellfish’ .