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Recipes in war time

25 Oct




Next year will mark 100 years since the start of World War One, or the Great War as it was called by contemporaries, with the vast and devastating effect it was to have in Europe and beyond.  Many museums and cultural institutions are planning events and exhibitions to commemorate this event.


From the Ella Wheeler Wilcox Bibliography

In contrast to the extensive discussion about the effects of war on the civilian population in World War Two, the effects on those at home during the Great War have been far less explored.  While it may be true that civilians in Britain did not suffer to the same extent during the Great War this is still an area ripe for further study, especially in terms of the war’s effect on food.  Rationing was introduced in Britain in January 1918.  Throughout the war a number of recipe books were published which stressed the careful use of ingredients and economical cooking as a way of supporting the war effort.  They included Keep the war foods cooking 1918,  Allied cookery : British, French, Italian, Belgian, Russian / arranged by Grace Clergue Harrison and Gertrude Clergue, to aid the war sufferers in the devastated districts of France; introduction by Hon. Raoul Dandurand ; prefaced by Stephen Leacock and Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1916 and Food and victory : a war supplement to Text-book of cooking  by Carlotta C. Greer 1918.

The patriotic and confident outlook these books hoped to inspire are well expressed by the simple verse which opens Keep the war foods cooking:

While the war is on and our boys must fight

We are here at home, with all our might

Should cook war dishes all the time

For that’s our work behind the line


I hope that the Great War celebrations which begin next year will create wonderful opportunities to explore food during the First World War. It’s something that Fort York in Toronto has already begun to think about.  During the First World War Fort York was used as a military base so extending the Historic Foodways recipe repertoire from the usual 18th and early 19th century recipes, which reflect the history of many of the Fort buildings and the Officers’ Mess, feels like an appropriate and exciting way to engage with the commemorative heritage plans for 2014-2018.  While Canadians civilians were geographically removed from the theatre of war thousands of Canadian soldiers bravely fought alongside their European counterparts, their cap badges with a crown resting on a maple leaf and ‘Canada’ in capital letters helping to establish the maple leaf as a representation of Canada on the international stage.


There’s also the opportunity for these Great War era recipes to be used for other events in the Fort’s calendar.  This week I experimented with a 1915 recipe for Orange Cake, which Bridget, who leads the team of historic cooks, suggested might work well for the Fort’s annual Mad for Marmalade event.



The recipe for the orange cake came from the Five Roses Flour 1915 cookbook.  Five Roses is one of the major Canadian flour brands, originally produced in 1888 in Keewatin, Ontario by the Lake of the Woods Milling Company. Using Canadian hard wheat Five Roses Flour soon became an established brand.  Its popularity was increased by the publication of a cook book which was first published in 1913 and brought together 600 recipes carefully chosen from the thousands submitted by users of Five Roses Flour.  The cook book itself soon became a Canadian institution; by the time of the 1915 edition 950,000 copies had been sold.  In her introduction to the 21st century reprint of the classic 1915 edition Elizabeth Baird recounts her memories of her grandmother’s copy, hanging by a string in the pantry, an indispensable culinary guide for the Canadian housewife.  It included recipes for breads, pastry, cakes and cookies, biscuits and tarts (including an early recipe for that Canadian classic, the butter tart).



The ingredients for the cake were very straightforward; eggs, sugar, butter, flour, raising agent, milk and an orange.  I was interested that the ingredients were listed in a mixture of pounds, ounces, cups and even a teacup (for the milk).  Other surrounding recipes listed the ingredients in cups, suggesting the recipes’ origins as the contributions of many different women, without a strong editorial hand to try and convert individual approaches to measuring ingredients.



The method for the cake was straight forward enough, except that it forgot to mention when to include the butter.  After some consultation around the kitchen I decided to cream my sugar and butter before added the eggs, whisked, with the orange zest and then the flour and raising agent.  As we had no baking powder I used bicarbonate of soda, something that I would certainly avoid next time.  Finally I added the milk to get the batter to a spoon dropping consistency.


I baked the cake in an 8″ tin and instead of buttering it as the recipe suggested I lined the tin with parchment paper.  As it was from a 1915 cook book the recipe had no precise oven temperature so we decide to interpret a ‘moderate’ oven as 350°F.  I baked the cake for just shy of half an hour and turned it out to cool.


Impatient to try the cake I turned my thoughts to the icing.  The recipe suggested that you could use the juice of the orange to create the icing but did not suggest a particular recipe.  Looking through the cook book I couldn’t see a suitable topping and so made a simple glace icing from icing sugar and the orange juice, taking care that it was stiff enough to cover the top of the cake without sliding off.  Rosemary added some sugared violets as a finishing touch and finally the cake was ready to try.


I was impressed by the texture of the cake; it was much more light and fluffy than I had expected.  However, I could clearly taste the bicarbonate of soda and there was little trace of the orange in either the icing or the cake itself.  Next time the recipe definitely needs to be tried with baking powder and I liked Rosemary and Elizabeth’s suggestion of using an orange curd as a filling.



Of course sampling our edible experiments is an obvious benefit to being part of the team of historic cooks at Fort York.  But another element which I really enjoy is the experimentation that comes with using these historic recipes, trying to get a sense of the way they were translated into food for the family at the time.  While our efforts to reproduce these recipes faithfully will always be tempered by the variations between historic and modern ingredients and our own contemporary lens on to the world of the past, returning to these cook books and attempting to interpret their recipes offers a fascinating and compelling way to understand a little more of the lives of the people who originally used them.







The power of a rolling pin

26 Jan

I’ve just finished a great book called A Museum Called Canada.  It’s like a Canadian specific A History of the World in 100 Objects, with a rich and often surprising collection of objects with which to tell Canada’s story from trace fossils 2 billion years old to a Sun Photometer from the 1980s.  Its sub title is 25 Rooms of Wonder and indeed the book is laid out like a museum, with each chapter taking on the function of a museum space, bringing together sometimes seemingly disparate objects to tell a episode in the story of Canada.  I like the sense of discovery and unexpectedness that the word ‘wonder’ suggests and the way in which the book reinforces the amazing stories which can be told by using objects.  That’s not to say that this book doesn’t have great text; the concept and choice of the objects came from Sara Angel and the twenty five essays in the book were written by Charlotte Gray, who is author of a range of books on Canadian history including another I read recently, Sisters in the Wilderness about the two Canadian authors and sisters Catherine Parr Trail and Susanna Moodie.  But like the rest of the book, the essays privilege the objects, each essay focused on the engrossing and fascinating tale which a single object has to tell.  These rich, intriguing and thought provoking essays rely 25 powerful stories all highlighting the way in which an object can act as a springboard for a much wider narrative.


I especially enjoyed Charlotte’s obvious empathy for objects, highlighted a tale she tells in the book’s introduction ‘No matter how commonplace, obsolete, or insignificant, an object can permit our empathy and imagination to vault the gulf of time and recapture vanished experiences.  When I pick up old glass rolling pins or chipped 1950s Melaware bowls at a local flea market, I am transported into the kitchens of other, earlier women.  I can almost feel flour on my fingertips and smell the pie baking in the oven as I reflect on how different the owners’ lives were from mine.’  For anyone coming from a museum background this clear feeling for the power of objects will ring true.

It’s perhaps not surprising that in the wide ranging assembly of objects there are few items of food, given the difficulties of keeping food over a long time (though having said this I’m always amazed by how long some foodstuffs can last, even in museum collections; pieces of royal wedding or christening cake from the 19th century spring to mind, or the tiny jars of jam in Queen Mary’s 1930s dollshouse).  Nevertheless, given the importance of food to the story of human survival and development there are a number of food related objects scattered throughout the ‘rooms’ of this Canadian museum. The earliest are the Paleoindian stone tools unearthed by archaeologists in Nova Scotia and evidence of the hunting habits of Canada’s earliest humans, moving forwards to a Huron wooden bowl, used in festivals celebrating the growing of corn, an early example of tinned food which probably helped to poison men on Franklin’s 1840s attempt to discover the Northwest Passage (the food inside would have been contaminated by the lead solder and probably was full of bacteria too) to a post Second World War advertisement for baby products, including a jar of the bestselling food for infants, Pablum.


Pablum page


The advertisement featuring Pablum comes from the Fall/Winter 1948-9 catalogue of one of Canada’s best known retail companies, Eaton’s and is the subject of one of Charlotte’s essays.  She uses the uninvitingly named baby food to chart explore the post war baby boom and the rise of consumerism but as she relates while the world of the 1950s is one often portrayed as a riot of bright plastic colours and pastel enamels, behind the excitement of the new products of this consumerism was much tedium and blandness for the housewives of Canada … all neatly represented by the jar of Pablum.  Her description of Pablum is enough to put off any self respecting baby ‘stone-cold mush tasting of soggy paper’ made from ‘a flaky grey powder consisting of wheatmeal, oatmeal, cornmeal, wheat germ, bone meal, dried brewers’ yeast, and alfalfa’.  It doesn’t exactly set your taste buds racing and little wonder that it has come in Canadian lexicons to refer to any writing bland and insipid!  And yet, the impetus behind the conception of Pablum was the altruistic, pioneering work of Dr Fred Tisdall of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children who wanted to produce an easily digested food, perfectly suited to the growing needs of babies, with the aim of significantly reducing infant mortality from digestive complications.  For 25 years the Toronto hospital received a royalty for each jar of Pablum sold (the brand name was sold to Heinz in 2005 and seems no longer to be used).  Thus encapsulated in one simple advertisement from a retail catalogue is a story that encompasses Canadian invention, radical social changes and the evolution of language.  Just one of the many ways in which this book, jam packed with incredible tales and poignant narratives, illuminates the power that even well worn rolling pins and melaware bowls have to connect us with our past and the people who lived there.

Baci in Bulk

15 Jan

Baci and Baci Bianco

A bowlful of Baci – classic Baci (silver) and Baci Bianco (navy)

Bulk Barn is fast becoming one of my favourite stores in Canada, simply because it has such an amazing range of ingredients and cake making supplies.  For example, I was pretty sceptical that I’d be able to find the chopped apricots I like with my cereal in the morning but there they were at Bulk Barn.  It has endless types of dried fruit, nuts and grains and just about every type of baking tin and cookie cutter you could imagine.  Coupled with the fact that you can buy just the amount of an ingredient you need for whatever culinary project you’re undertaking and my only sadness is that there aren’t more in downtown Toronto (although I do think that the addition of some weighing scales so that you could check how much you had of any one ingredient before taking it to the till would be fantastic)

Baci in Bulk Barn

Baci in bulk at Bulk Barn

My latest discovery is that Bulk Barn stock Baci, the chocolates made by the Italian firm Perugina.  These chocolates, literally ‘little kisses’ in Italian, have long been some of my favourite; many a trip to Italy has seen me return with a few bagfuls.  Wrapped in an elegant silver foil wrapper with their name amidst a pattern of stars printed in navy blue, a big part of the appeal is that they’re a hazelnut flavoured chocolate; they have a nocchiatella centre, topped by a whole roasted hazelnut and then enveloped in dark chocolate.  But it’s the inclusion of the charming mottos, or love notes, as the Baci webpage calls them, which makes them so special.  Each motto is a famous quotation on the subject of love, translated into about four different languages; perfect for practising sweet nothings to take you around the globe, or at least Europe.


I hadn’t really thought about the history of Baci but it turns out that were created in 1922 when Luisa Spagnoli of Perugina (the company was founded some 15 years earlier) needed to find a way of using hazlenuts that had been left over from producing another product.  The love notes made their appearance in the 1930s, designed to encourage people to give Baci as a romantic gift.  You can read more of the love notes fascinating history on the Baci web page.  The distinctive packaging was created in the same decade, inspired by Francesco Hayez’s 1859 painting Il Bacio (Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan).


Francesco Hayez’s 1859 painting Il Bacio.  It was a given a bit of a 20th century make over for the Baci image, to appeal to a cinema going consumer


The Baci website also includes a recipe for a heart shape Baci cake, which uses hazelnut flour and plenty of chocolate, before decorating with Baci.  Baci make great cake decorations, especially for a silver wedding anniversary when you can decorate the cake with 25 silver wrapped kisses!  We also added a Bacio to each of our wedding favours, in amongst the sugar almonds (I’m not sure Mr Kim noticed this but it pleased me) But you can also get white Baci (also stocked by Bulk Barn) which are wrapped in navy foil with silver stars, and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner maybe I need to try out my own version of the Baci heart cake.      bacioperugina  perugina-4

Do you care for caraway?

9 Jan


The seed cake, with its fine, close texture

My visit to Fort York today gave me the opportunity to try the seed cake which I made on Sunday.  With a pound of butter and sugar the cake was beautifully sweet, with a fine, dense texture, studded with the distinctive caraway seeds.  The seeds have a strong, almost aniseedy flavour, which felt strange to my modern palate at first but which is fast growing on me.  Mya felt that the cake was too dry but I actually quite liked the texture; the cake sliced very well and was the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea.

The OED describes caraway as  ‘An umbelliferous plant ( Carum carui): its small fruits, commonly called ‘caraway-seeds’, are aromatic and carminative; they are used in cakes, sweetmeats, etc., and yield a volatile oil’.  Dr Johnson, in his 1755 dictionary, talks about the seeds being used in medicine and confectionary.  It was a popular flavouring in Britain for many classic cakes and biscuits; as well as the seed cake made on Sunday caraway seeds are a key ingredient for the Shrewsbury biscuits we made today.


Shrewsbury biscuits, again with caraway seeds, although some recipes have currants, and pricked with a fork

As well as the Shrewsbury biscuits we made little fine cakes (Hannah Glasse’s 1747 recipe) for the upcoming Queen Charlotte’s Birthday Ball to be held at Fort York on 19 January, and started some marmalade with bitter Sicilian oranges from Mya’s carefully tended orange tree.


Little fine cakes – as indeed they are!  There’s no flavouring, just a lovely soft texture punctuated by juicy currants


some of Mya’s bitter Sicilian oranges

With my own fair hands

7 Jan

Today I spent my birthday making my own cake, which I haven’t even had the chance to try yet!  This however, was no ordinary birthday cake, but Elizabeth Cleland’s 1755 recipe for ‘a seed cake, very rich’ (on p158 of this link)from her cookery book A New and Easy Method of Cookery.  Appropriately since I was born in the Outer Hebrides, Elizabeth Cleland was a Scottish cook and her rich seed cake contains a pound each of butter, flour and sugar, as well as ten egg yolks, six egg whites and a gill (a quarter pint and pronounced ‘jill’) of brandy.  The seeds in the cake are caraway seeds, a popular flavouring for cakes and biscuits (they were the flavour of the cattern cakes made by lacemakers to celebrate their patron saint’s day, St Catherine’s Day on 25 November, for example) On this snowy January morning I was once again at Fort York to join some of its team of historic cooks for a day of historic recipe making and experimentation.


A snowy Fort York for a twelfth night birthday

With 8 cooks the kitchens, both the officers’ mess early 19th century kitchen and the preparation kitchen, were hives of activity.  Mya, leading the session, explained to me that I’d be preparing the seed cake by hand, quite literally.  The Fort York cooks make sure that anything used in the officers’ mess kitchen is authentic to the time so that when visitors enter the space it’s as close as possible to the way it might have looked in the 19th century (although my outfit of jeans and a jersey top clearly fell well behind these standards of historical authenticity).  So I was going to mix all of the ingredients using my hands, beginning with creaming the butter until it was fluffy and yellowish white.  As people pointed out to me the butter was a great hand moisturiser and I now have a right hand significantly softer than the left (next time I’ll remember to swap them over more efficiently).


The ingredients for Elizabeth Cleland’s ‘seed cake, very rich’; from top to bottom, a gill of brandy, eggs, butter, sugar, some pound cake for sustenance (not part of ingredients!), caraway seeds


creaming butter by hand; quite tough on the right forearm, but beautifully soft and strangely satisfying

Once the butter was sufficiently creamed the sugar was added gradually, once again worked in by hand.  Then the eggs were beaten, yolks and whites separately, until they were thick and stiff.  For this we did use a balloon whisk.  I was expecting it to be tough with the whites but it was actually the yolks that took longer, even with considerable help from my fellow cooks.  Gradually however the yolks evolved from a liquid orangey yellow to a soft pale yellow, falling in gentle peaks.  The yolks were added to the butter and sugar mixture, then the flour and brandy alternately, before the caraway seeds and then the whites folded in last of all.


Mark with the egg yolks which he kindly whisked to perfection; not the lovely buttermilk colour and the ribbon trail it leaves as it pours


me and the egg whites; I’m practising using my left arm for whisking too, otherwise it will be the right arm that gets all the exercise; note that we’re using a copper bowl for egg whisking

Mya and Catherine had already kindly prepared for me the baking tray which was simple a metal hoop – round baking tins with a base did not arrive until later in the 19th century, with baking paper tied around it and then lined with baking paper.  Mya and Catherine make it look very simple but when I tried helping Brenda with preparing the tin for her gingerbread it seemed much more complicated.


preparing the hoop for baking; metal hoop wrapped in brown paper, so that the paper forms a base, tied round with string and plenty of extra paper at the top to help stop the cake from burning. 

 With the tin ready the mixture was spooned in, by hand, and then placed in a 350°F oven.  It’s a slow-cooking cake so it stayed in for just shy of two hours.  Since it only came out of the oven at the very end of our session I’m going to have to wait until Tuesday to taste it.


The finished seed cake, just out of the prep kitchen oven

 While I was busy concentrating on the seed cake a wealth of other recipes were being tested and preparing, from Mya and Elizabeth’s transparent biscuits filled with currants, Brenda’s 1831 gingerbread (dating from a time when the first artificial raising agent, pearlash, had become available), Mark’s Jumbles, which he twisted into shapes following 17th century illustrations, Amy’s Black Bun and Cherie’s Oliver biscuits; a super plain biscuit developed by Dr Oliver in the 18th century for people taking the nasty sulphur water in Bath, to nibble and take away the taste.  One of the elements of the cookery which I think is so impressive at Fort York is the level of experimentation in order to recreate the recipes as authentically as possible.  It means that even if a recipe doesn’t turn out quite as expected it all becomes part of the learning process.  Mark’s jumbles were a good example; the 17th century illustration showed these spiced biscuits in a whole range of interlaced and twisted shapes; clearly depicting how their name developed from ’gemmel’, the name of as double finger ring.  The recipe had called for plenty of butter and then flour to make the dough workable, which it was but it was also incredible delicate and my attempts and the double bow shape were far from elegant.  I then stuck to trying the reef knot shapes which still looked a little rough and ready in comparison with Mark’s beautiful twisted rings, but when the shapes reached the oven the high butter content meant that they lost their shape really quickly.  Definitely a case for more flour next time, both to make the dough easier to work and to help retain the shape.  It was also fascinating seeing how they fared in the three different ovens; the ones cooked in the officers’ mess bake oven retained their shape most successfully, those in the convection oven were the next best and those in the conventional oven were the flattest.  They all tasted delicious though.


from Peter Brears, Food and Cooking in Seventeenth Century Britain, p11


My attempts at the reef knot shape; I’m not sure I really improved (I was working left to right in vertical rows) but by the end I did have a better technique for using the right amount of dough. 


The final jumbles, which do look a bit of a jumble after their time in the oven; you can see how differently they all fared, the smaller ones in the top left were Mark’s twisted rings which were cooked in the bake oven and the ones to the front of the picture his slightly larger twisted rings cooked in the normal modern oven

Meanwhile Catherine was concentrating on our lunch; a white fish roasted by the fire, scalloped potatoes (except we couldn’t find the scallop shells so we made do with shallow tins) and stewed carrots.  The breadcrumbs on the potatoes which were mashed and then sat by the fire in the officers’ mess kitchen, were browned by the use of a salamander, a thick disk of metal on a stick, which was heated in the fire and then used to brown the breadcrumbs.  It was remarkably effective on the first dish of potatoes but lost its heat quite quickly so that the second dish took a little longer to brown.


Catherine scraping carrots for the carrot stew with the white fish awaiting his fate


The white fish roasting by the fire


Mya browning the scalloped potatoes with the salamander, as per 1769   E. Raffald Experienced Eng. Housekeeper (1778) 253   ‘Hold a hot salamander over it till it is very brown’.

I might not have been able to sample the seed cake before I left but there were plenty of other treats that had been cooked over the day to try, from Amy’s black bun, which was very similar to hot cross buns and Brenda’s rich and currant studded gingerbread.  When I go back on Tuesday I’m looking forward to finding out how my hand made birthday cake has turned out.


Brenda and her gingerbread


Amy and her black bun


Cherie’s Oliver Biscuits

Christmas Cook Books

6 Jan

This Christmas we received a good crop of cook books from friends and family.  I’m looking forward to trying out some of the many recipes they offer.



Father Christmas (reliably informed by my parents) gave me the Bowes Museum Cookbook.  The Bowes Museum has long been one of my favourite museums ever.  What’s not to like about a French chateau like building on the edge of the perfectly formed town of Barnard Castle, which is home to the iconic silver swan who gracefully bends his head at two o’clock every afternoon? With its wonderful collections of art, costume and decorative art I’ve made many a specific visit to see their scholarly and thought provoking exhibitions on topics ranging from North Country Quilts to the Art of the Table.  The cookbook, which was published in 2012, is an elegant example of a museum successfully showcasing its collections and the talents of its in house chefs for its café.  While the cook book is beautifully illustrated with examples of works of art from the collection, from striking still lives to exquisite embroideries, the recipes are all created by the Bowes resident chefs Ben Parhaby and Hazel Herworth.  The skilful blending of objects from the collection with related recipes produces such pairings as a chocolate brownie recipe illustrated with a porcelain cup and saucer decorated with a transfer print of Liotard’s Chocolate girl and a North Sea crab salad with a striking still life of crabs by 19th century French painter Jean Paul Baptiste Lazerges.  I often feel frustrated by museums whose shops offer little that relate directly to their collections and provide merely generic merchandise that could be found anywhere.  The Bowes Museum Cookbook stands in direct contrast to this trend and is perfect for anyone who loves museums and cooking.



As recent arrivals in Canada two Canadian cookbooks were welcome additions to our culinary possibilities.  The first was given to us by Emily and Rob and is the Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book, published in 1966 by the famous Canadian confectionery company.  The recipes are divided into ten sections, from breads to meats to vegetables, each with a single colour illustration which depicts a particular part of Canada.  What I particularly like about this recipe book is the fact that each recipe has a short introduction explaining the inclusion of the dish and something of its origins.  These brief anecdotal statements reveal the richness of Canadian culinary heritage from German Mandel Bread (I’m looking forward to trying out this recipe since it involves almonds!) and Fredericton Walnut Toffee to Quebec Salmon Pie and Scotch-Canadian Haggis.


Ontario produce including blueberry vinegar, cinnamon infused honey and maple syrup which accompanied our Ontario cookbook

The final cookbook we received, from Jim and Zibbie, was accompanied by a beautiful selection of Ontario produce including maple syrup from Prince Edward County, blueberry wine vinegar and cranberry amaretto preserve.  These goodies were especially appropriate since the cook book, Ontario Table featuring the best food from around the province by Lynn Ogryzlo champions the use of locally produced food and highlights the wealth of fresh ingredients available in Ontario from artisan cheeses to fresh fruit.   As well as offering a wealth of recipes using local ingredients the cook book also offers suggestions about where to purchase Ontario produced foods and encourages owners of the cook book to seek out sources of locally produced ingredients.   Recipes range from asparagus leek soup with asparagus from Waterloo County to pecan-crusted rack of pork, with meat from Blue Haven Farm in Wellington.


Happy cooking in 2013!


Ontario lamb cooked with potatoes, onions, lemon and rosemary

Lunch at St Lawrence Market

4 Dec

St Lawrence is the patron saint of chefs and butchers so it seems particular appropriate that one of Toronto’s best known food destinations, St Lawrence Market, should bear his name.  There’s plenty to excite any food lover and since this Saturday was a rare weekend when Mr Kim was around we took a wander down to find lunch and enjoy wealth of butchers, bakers and a great cookware store.


Mr Kim’s lunch from Buster’s Sea Cove – halibut and chips


My lunch – a delicious seafood orzo with mussels, calamari and big, juicy shrimp, all washed down with some San Pellengrino


Buster’s Sea Cove, serving a myriad of sea food dishes and very busy at lunchtime


I wonder if this has anything to do with Alex James – or maybe I’m running a cheese business and just don’t know it?


Beef at Di Liso’s – Mr Kim’s declared it his butcher of choice, so a good rib roast was on the menu that night


Placewares in St Lawrence’s – a great cookware shop with a wealth of unexpected cooking items and one of the best selection of cookie cutters I’ve seen


There are a couple of bakeries in the market and at the suggestion of friends we tried out some of the Montreal style bagels


On the 2nd floor of St Lawrence is the Market Gallery, run by the City, which hosts a range of exhibitions exploring the history of Toronto.  The current exhibition is a rather dry exhibition about public works in Toronto called The Water Czar – R.C. Harris Works for Toronto 1912-45 (there are only so many photos of sewers and drainage schemes that I can get excited about) but I did love this 1921 photograph showing a group of Toronto city stenographers, no doubt all dressed up for a day out.