Regional Cuisine

Find out about the different types of cuisine and drinks in the regions and provinces of Canada...

British Columbia

British Columbia is traditionally influenced by British cuisine but more recently by other international cuisines such as Asian and eastern European. Regional specialities from the Pacific Rim include seafood such as crab, cod, haddock, salmon, oysters, shrimp and other shellfish. These can be cooked in many different ways including barbecued, baked, fried or smoked.

British Columbia also grows a lot of its own fruits and vegetables. The Okanagan Valley has a dry and hot climate and is home to most of the region's fruit orchards. Peaches, apples, plums, strawberries, apricots, pears, blueberries and other berries are grown in large quantities in this region. Nut farms producing hazelnuts are also found in Fraser Valley.

Wineries are also typical of this region. The Okanagan Valley is one of Canada's best wine producing regions and produces red, white and sparkling wines, as well as icewine.

  • To find out more about the orchards and vineyards in British Columbia: Click here

The British tradition of afternoon tea is also celebrated in British Columbia, particularly in Vancouver and Victoria, where many hotels and tea shops offer traditional English afternoon teas consisting of scones, sandwiches, cakes and of course, tea.

Vancouver is also home to many award winning restaurants and, as in many big cities, caters for all tastes and budgets. There is however, a predominance of Southeast Asian cuisine, which reflects the large Asian population in Vancouver.

Alberta

Alberta is best known for its beef, renowned worldwide for being particularly succulent. Beef is braised, minced, barbecued or skewered and served with potatoes and vegetables. Stews are also popular. Other regional Alberta specialities include wild berries and nuts, and honey made from alfalfa and clover nectar. In Alberta's main towns and cities all kinds of international cuisine are available.

Ontario

Food in Ontario is influenced by British cuisine from its colonial days. Traditionally seasonal food is eaten with locally available ingredients. However, the type of food available and eaten in Ontario today reflects the large multicultural population it is home to. Any kind of food can be found in its major towns and cities from Asian to Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Italian and French. Toronto has thousands of restaurants serving gourmet foods, local foods and international cuisine.

Farmers markets, agricultural fairs and food festivals have also become increasingly common in this region over the last decade. Ottawa is surrounded by a large agricultural area where fruit and vegetables such as apples, berries, pears, corn and squash are grown locally and are available seasonally.

The Niagara region in Ontario is renowned for its fruit and wine production. The Niagara Wine Region is particularly famous for its excellent wineries producing white, red and sparkling wines, as well as icewine.

Maple syrup is also produced in Ontario and features heavily in super sweet desserts such as Beavertails; these are a kind of flat doughnut often flavoured with maple syrup and are considered a speciality of the region. Other traditional foods associated with Ontario include deep filled apple pies and huge pancakes.

  • For more information about food and drink in Ontario: Click here

Quebec

Food in Quebec is strongly influenced by French, Irish and traditional aboriginal foods. Quebec food includes tourtière (meat pie), ham dishes, Paté Chinois (similar to shepherd's pie but with meat, corn and potatoes), Tarte au Sucre (maple syrup pie), Poutine (chips with curd cheese and gravy), pea soup, and pork and baked beans.

Many restaurants in Quebec open later and offer a more European dining experience. Dinner is longer and served later, around 19:00 to 20:00, in contrast to the rest of Canada where traditionally the evening meal is served earlier, at around 17:00 or 18:00.

More recently, cities such as Montreal have been influenced by Jewish immigration and Montreal has become renowned for its smoked meat and bagels. The maple syrup season is also influential in Quebec cuisine, with many maple syrup specialities, such as taffy, pancakes and maple syrup pie being eaten during the maple syrup season. Quebec is the world's largest maple syrup producer.

Maritime regions

New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are particularly famous for their seafood; lobster, scallops and mussels, salmon and cod. Other foods associated with the area include fiddlehead greens (similar to ferns) and dulse, which is a kind of seaweed. Prince Edward Island is also famous for its ice cream, while New Brunswick's most famous dish is poutine râpée, which consists of potatoes stuffed with pork.

Northern Canada

The north of Canada, which includes the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut all predominately eat Inuit foods, which are prepared using traditional methods. A typical Inuit diet involves meat from hunting such as wild game, caribou, squirrel and hare, as well as fish. Dishes are prepared using mainly seasonal ingredients and/or preserved food ingredients. Wild plant greens and berries are also gathered in the spring and summer. Local specialities include boiled seal, frozen raw Arctic char and whale. Bannock, which is essentially a flat bread, is also widely eaten.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan is influenced by a number of different cuisines including First Nation and European cuisines. Foods found in Saskatchewan include bison, bannock (a fried flat bread) and local wild berries such as Saskatoon berries, chokecherries and blueberries, which are all found in traditional dishes, particularly those influenced by First Nation cuisine.

Immigration from the UK, Russia, Ukraine, and Scandinavia in the 1900s has also influenced traditional Saskatchewan meals. For example, roast meats, sausages, perogies (stuffed dumplings of unleavened dough) and cabbage rolls are all widely available and regularly eaten by locals. Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and Thai restaurants are a prevalent and more recent addition to Saskatchewan towns and cities, reflecting the growth in immigration from Southeast Asia from 1970 onwards.