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WHAT WITH OUR neighbor, um, neighbour, to the north offering friendship, solace and a border sans a multi-billion-dollar wall, it might be timely to share information about that country. Some would say “I know more about the Dominion of Canada than any human being on Earth,” but I confess my own firsthand knowledge is spotty.
Fortunately, though, I have my trusty Baedeker’s Canada, 1894. And, as I’ve noted earlier, something worth seeing back then is all the more worthy today.
Plus, the Baedeker’s puts in perspective the pleasant and productive activities I’ve had in Quebec in the east, the Yukon Territory and British Columbia in the west, and Ontario in the middle.
As noted by Baedeker’s, “In 1858 Queen Victoria put an end to the conflicting claims of Montreal and Quebec, Kingston and Toronto, by selecting Ottawa as the official capital of the Dominion of Canada.” The town prospered, “its population rising from 14,669 in 1861… to 44,154 in 1891. The inhabitants are divided nearly equally into the French and British races and the Protestant and Roman Catholic faiths.”
Ottawa restaurants cited in the Baedeker’s include Bodega and Queen’s, both on Elgin St. and the latter described as “unpretending, D. 25 c.”
No doubt. How much pretending could one do for a quarter, even in 1894?
Notes the guide: “British and American silver coins are readily circulated throughout the Dominion at a depreciation of 20 per cent… and travellers should be on their guard against accepting American silver coins at par value. Bank of England notes are usually taken at their full value in the larger cities, but United States paper is often refused.”
The Yukon got short shrift in my Baedeker’s because the Klondike Gold Rush didn’t occur until two years after the guidebook’s publication. This Gold Rush is important because it brought an estimated 100,000 prospectors, including Jack London, north from the largely petered-out California gold fields. In 1898, the Dominion of Canada split off the western portion of its Northwest Territories into the Yukon Territory.
I am particularly well connected in the YT, owing to a 2007 adventure in which I co-drove a Toyota FCHV fuel-cell car 2300 miles from Fairbanks to Vancouver. Our first night in Canada was spent at Buckshot Betty’s, just over the Alaska/Yukon line in Beaver. Try Betty’s Yukon Burger; it’s great.
Toward the other end of Canada, Baedeker’s notes, and I agree, that the city of Quebec is “perhaps the most picturesque city in North America, appealing at once to the most blasé tourist by the striking boldness of its site, the romance of its history, and the extraordinary contrast of its old-world appearance and population with the new world around it.”
The Chateau Frontenac hotel is described in the Baedeker’s as “a palatial structure on Dufferin Terrrace, opened in 1893; $3 1/2–5.” Three-fifty to five works out to around $150 to $215 in today’s Canadian dollar, perhaps $115 to $165 U.S. I forget what it cost when I stayed at the Frontenac in 1996.
The Baedeker’s mentions the city’s Lower Town, where I bought my mom a rosary from a shop run by a dissident cult of Catholics who had their own Canadian pope, Gregory XVII. In fact, it turns out there were two other alternative-fact Pope Gregory XVIIs at the time, one in Spain and the other in Italy. Out of deference to mom’s Roman Catholic orthodoxy—and to Pope John Paul II—I never did tell her the complete story. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2017
A few changes from your Baedeker’s to today, include the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, which were created in 1905, having previously been districts of the Northwest Territories, and the current borders of Manitoba were established in 1912, with much of the province (7/8 of the area) having previously been part of the Northwest Territories. At the same time the northern portions of Ontario and Quebec were transferred from the Northwest Territories. And Newfoundland and Labrador was a separate country until 1949 (basically debts from WWII drove them to seek union with Canada).
More recently the Northwest Territories (NWT) were split yet once more in 1999 into NWT in the west, and the mostly Inuit populated Nunavut in the east, with capital Iqaluit (previously Frobisher Bay). At around 7000, Iqaluit is definitely the smallest capital in Canada. Located on Baffin Island, it is one of four provincial/territorial capitals located on islands. I’ll leave the rest as a challenge for other readers. And as an added quiz, while Baffin is the 5th. largest island in the world, and Canada has 13.6% of the world’s 500 largest islands, one other is the largest island in it’s sub category (and within the 200 largest globally). Final part of the quiz, other than the US, which two other countries are geographically close to Canada?
I have managed to visit all but one province (Newfoundland) and two territories (Yukon and Nunavut), and these are on the bucket list.
A YT favorite: Yukon burger. What’s not to love–beef, bacon, ham, egg, cheese, grilled onion, sauce on a bun.
Further toward the “otherest” end . . . in 1864 at The Charlottetown Conference on Prince Edward Island, confederation was set into motion.
And at the easternmost end of PEI you can find the culinary excellence of chef Michael Smith (the Bobby Flay of Canada) at his “Inn at Bay Fortune.” His “The Feast” is an understatement. http://innatbayfortune.com/about-us/
This inn was once the summer home of actress Coleen Dewhurst.
Good info on Michael Smith’s restaurant. Enjoyed seeing him many times at Christmas in November at the Jasper Park Lodge. Great way to interact with many of the great chefs from around this country. We have several of his recipes that were demonstrated at CIN that we use regularly.
Michael was born in New York, but certainly is Canadian by choice.