Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Infographics: Thanksgiving 2011

Courtesy of: CreditDonkey

  I would like to take this time  to wish all my American readers a very  happy thanksgiving and I’ve included an info graph at the top of this post detailing a variety of factoids about today’s celebration in the States. Of course, I celebrated Canadian thanksgiving about six weeks ago but considering the colder weather, my readers should understand the reason for the earlier date not to mention that the origins of the autumn statutory holiday are different in this country. This doesn’t mean that Canadians don’t take advantage of the American holiday and many (approx. 13%) hike down south to enjoy the Black Friday bargains in the discount malls especially with the currencies at relative par value. A lot of stores in Toronto offer bargains this week to forestall the annual trek to the fleshpots of Buffalo, New York and the locals braving the attentions of the Home Land Security forces including a new $5.50 "Land of the Free" entrance fee commence the “Assault from the North” in a consumer blitzkrieg on the Empire State where Torontonians shop with all the rapacity of Vikings pillaging coastal towns in the Middle Ages during a North American version of the Norwegian harrytur on Maundy Thursday in which the folks in Norway have an annual trek to the shopping malls in Sweden where towns like Strömstad have huge sales of alcohol and tobacco which is much more expensive in Norway.
midsummer - viking group 1

Canadians preparing a raid on Buffalo discount mall
(lic. from flickr 2.0)

  This celebration in Canada actually predates the American one by 43 years.

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada can be traced back to the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher from England in search of the Northwest Passage. In this, his third, voyage to the Frobisher Bay area of Baffin Island in the present Canadian Territory of Nunavut, it was also the intention to start a small settlement and his fleet of 15 ships was so fitted out with men, materials and provisions for this purpose. However, the loss of one of his ships through contact with ice along with much of the building material was to prevent him from doing so. The expedition was plagued by ice and freak storms which at times had scattered the fleet and on meeting together again at their anchorage in Frobisher Bay, “..Mayster Wolfall, [ Robert Wolfall ] a learned man, appoynted by hir Majesties Councell to be theyr minister and preacher, made unto them a godly sermon, exhorting them especially to be thankefull to God for theyr strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places,…” . They celebrated Communion and “The celebration of divine mystery was the first signe, scale, and confirmation of Christes name, death and passion ever known in all these quarters.”  After the Seven Years' War ended in 1763 handing over of New France to the British, the citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving days were observed beginning in 1799 but did not occur every year.  After the American Revolution, American refugees who remained loyal to Great Britain moved from the newly independent United States and came to Canada. They brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving to Canada. .” (Wikipedia)
   The present day celebration was actually an American import and in the pictures above/below you can see one of the Quaker meeting houses that operate today in the area of rural Ontario where I lived for ten years. They left the States after the American Revolution and emmigrated to Ontario because of their pacifism during the war. They brought their Thanksgiving celebration with them. The current date of Canadian Thanksgiving wasn’t set until 1957.

   The food for my thanksgiving was purchased at the Saint Lawrence Market with the exception of the cranberries. We bought free range turkey from White House Meats and organic heirloom vegetables from a variety of other stalls in the hall. For the cranberries, I go in the fall to Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh during the Bala Falls Cranberry festival.

   Bala is about two hours drive north of Toronto, next to an Indian reservation and in what we call the bush.

The "bush" on the trip to Bala - water, trees and rocks
View Larger Map

South Bala Falls in Canada

Festival sign

  I used my cell phone camera for these pictures so the quality isn’t as good as my usual photos.
Two of my daughters on trip near Bala

Taken from the side of the road near the village of Bala
Located at the west end of Lake Muskoka, at the foot of Bala Bay, the prominent geographical feature of the town are the many bare outcroppings of the Canadian Shield. Carved out of the Shield is Bala Falls, the only outlet for Lake Muskoka. This allows water to drain from the Muskoka River watershed into the Moon River and eventually Georgian Bay. (wikipedia)
Not alone. Near Bala

  Wahta Mohawk Territory is a Mohawk First Nation reserve which borders on Bala and has the largest cranberry marsh operation in Canada.
Bala Anglican church

Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables books, visited Bala in 1922. The area made a sufficient impression on her that she based the novel The Blue Castle on the area, her only novel not located in PEI. Based on this connection to a beloved Canadian author, Bala's Museum, a privately run museum featuring L.M. Montgomery, was opened in the 1990s.(wikipedia)

Bala South Falls. Good trout fishing from bridge

My youngest daughter having cranberry cider

Transportation from the village to the marsh
It takes about twenty minutes for the journey from the village to the marsh using the tractor.
Wild cranberries
   A video below on the commercial collection of the cranberries at the marsh.

A sea of red cranberries in the background

  If you wonder how cranberries are pollinated then the answer is honeybees. It takes about three weeks for the bees to cross pollinate 160 acres of cranberries and using domestic bees increases the yield by seventy five percent. The marsh owners pay professional beekeepers to keep hives near the marsh. I don’t know if I mentioned that Bala is in bear country so the beekeepers have to place an electrical fence around the hives to stop the bears from eating the honey. The video below will explain.

  You can collect wild cranberries on your own but this is bear country and like Sara Palin carry a 12ga semi auto shotgun with buck hammer slugs. I guarantee that if you plug Yogi with one of the suckers in the picture below he ain’t getting up again. You also get the prime ingredient for my famous Bear burgers or more upscale Terrine d’Ours. If you spot deer and nail Bambi then you have all of the primary ingredients for a more generic Terrine  de la forêt.
   There are more uses for cranberries than sauce. You can make cranberry wine, jelly, cider and relish.

   Here’s a video on making cranberry sauce which requires 1 bag or 3 C. Cranberries

¾ C. packed light brown sugar

½ C. orange juice

½ C. Port wine (red wine works also)

Juice of ½ lemon

 And here's the finished product in a picture of my Thanksgiving dinner plate.

  Bon Appétit

 For those fellow Canadians who spent Thanksgiving in America, here's a little humour.

1 comment:

  1. A hilarious post with much of interest in it.

    Detail: why are the bargains always south? Canadians, to US, US, to Mexico, Mexico, to Guatemala.

    Also: Norway to Sweden, Sweden to Denmark, Denmark to Germany. And France to Spain to Portugal to Morocco.

    Where else?