Thanksgiving traditions across Canada

By: Sukaina Jamil

Although Thanksgiving enjoys a celebrated history  in Canada spanning hundreds of years, what’s often lost is how this festive holiday is observed from coast to coast. It’s an official statutory holiday in every province and territory, but it may come as a surprise that in four provinces, namely, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, Thanksgiving does not hold that statutory holiday status. What’s more, not every region chooses to serve the seemingly requisite turkey and mashed potatoes as the main dish.

Now that the long weekend has come to an end, let’s talk about the different spreads on tables across Canada, and try not to salivate as we go.

Let’s be real, the year-long hype that comes with Thanksgiving season is largely due to its staple fare: turkey, roasted season vegetables, some variant of potatoes and of course, pumpkin spice and everything nice.

Although you might assume that these dishes are executed in the same way across the country, most Thanksgiving dinner spreads contain some features that are unique to their region.

Residents of Prince Edward Island often spruce up their Thanksgiving starches with some lobster mashed potatoes, infusing two of the province’s most beloved ingredients. Nova Scotians opt to not mash their potatoes, but rather throw them in a stew with a bunch of other vegetables to create Nova Scotian Hodge Podge (most intriguing name ever - a must try).  

Taking a sweeter turn, pumpkin pie has become the lifeblood  of the Thanksgiving season. After all, it is fall, and what feature speaks more to our country’s love of the harvest season than the delectably saccharine pumpkin? However, no Thanksgiving spread is complete with just one dessert, which is where each province’s character emerges. Ontarians delve into decadent butter tarts, while Nanaimo bars are spruced up and served by the dozens in British Columbia. Ever heard of Saskatoon Berry Pie? It competes fiercely with its pumpkin counterpart on dessert tables across Saskatchewan.

You didn’t think we’d forget about the bread, did you? While American Thanksgiving feasts are traditionally served with cornbread, Canadians in Manitoba and Yukon combat with their bannock and sourdough bread, providing a variety tastes and textures for your palette.

Bannock can be served in many different forms, and is a traditional Métis food. Thanksgiving traditions in Canada trace back to long before European settlers came to the land to when Indigenous people would hold feasts in celebration of the fall harvest. Manitobans still include traditional Aboriginal foods in their Thanksgiving meals as a way to honour this piece of history.  

From stews and starches to pies of all kinds, no two tables in Canada are likely to look the same on Thanksgiving.

If you’re getting the urge to travel across the country and divulge in some Thanksgiving leftovers from different provinces and territories, we don’t blame you. In fact, let us know if you need some eating buddies!

Chicken Fingers of Toronto: Top 3 Con-Tenders

By Kelly Skjerven

You know that feeling you get when you go out to eat and hate almost everything on the menu? I have always been a picky eater, and I have a pro tip for you: chicken fingers are my holy grail (unless you’re vegetarian of course, in which tofu nuggets are great). I’ve always been a picky eater, so chances are I’m ordering chicken fingers almost any time I go out to a bar or restaurant. After my many travels as a chicken finger connoisseur, I've come up with a list of three bars and restaurants that have Toronto’s tastiest tenders!

1. Duke’s Refresher + Bar

Photo: Duke's Refresher + Bar

Photo: Duke's Refresher + Bar

The atmosphere of this bar is amazing. Great music is always blasting, the drinks are delicious and the chicken fingers are of the highest stature. One day, I told my friend I was craving greasy pub fingers and we set off on a journey. We were in the downtown core and I had always wanted to try Duke’s, as it was recommended to me on countless occasions. I was not disappointed, to say the least. The menu describes the meal as “fresh, never frozen and breaded to order” and I believe it. The breading was so flavourful, and the chicken is so tender that the breading fell off of the meat completely.

2. Fran’s Restaurant and Bar

You can never go wrong with Fran’s. Or chicken fingers. Fran’s serves up some classic deep-fried chicken fingers whose flavours are only amplified when dipped in tangy plum sauce. There’s also an option to have them tossed in different sauces such as barbeque, honey garlic, hot and extra hot, which are an awesome way to vamp up your meal!. Whatever your preferred eating approach, you’ll definitely be licking the plate clean.

3. Imperial Pub

Photo: Kiara Julien

Photo: Kiara Julien

Last but not least, the ‘campus’ pub. Imperial is a great place to kick back after a long of day of lectures and labs. They’re known for offering up some of the best comfort food, such as burgers, nachos, fish and chips and much more. Their chicken fingers are the perfect amount of greasy that you’ll want to soak up after a long day. You can get them with golden-crisp fries or on a combo platter which also includes mozzarella sticks, onion rings, fries and a cheese quesadilla. You might want to bring a few friends to share with you if you’re going to opt for the platter, or eat it all on your own, no judgement here!

All three of these restaurants are perfect spots to satisfy any fried chicken craving. With individual elements that make each place’s chicken fingers unique to their menu, it’s hard to pick just one to go to! I hope you give all three of these diners and pubs a try, you’ll thank me when you’re fighting the urge to lick your fingers after.

This piece was edited by Sukaina Jamil.