illustration: Monika Melnychuk/

10 Classic Canadian Foods

By Tracy Hyatt

Eat your way across our vast country by sampling these delicacies. And don’t forget to purchase travel medical insurance from AMA Travel* if you’re venturing outside of Alberta—in case of a medical emergency that’s not covered by your Alberta Health Care plan.

1  Sourdough Bread, Yukon
The loaf gets its moniker from the sour taste of the fermented starter dough that acts as a natural leavening agent. The hearty bread helped hungry prospectors survive harsh conditions during the Klondike Gold Rush. In Dawson City, stop at Cheechako’s Bake Shop for fresh sourdough loaves.

2  Salmon, B.C.
With about 50 First Nations in British Columbia., you’re never too far from an Aboriginal culinary experience. Traditionally, salmon has been the most popular staple eaten by the peoples of the Northwest. Try sockeye salmon in chowder, salad or a panini at the Thunderbird Café at Whistler’s Squamish Lil’wat Nations Cultural Centre.

3  Steak, Alberta
No one will dispute that beef is Alberta’s most famous food. The first large-scale ranches were stablished in the late 1800s, and Western Canada’s beef industry has been going strong ever since. Head to Longview Steakhouse and Country Inn for the best steak dinner in Alberta, hands down.

4  Lentils, Saskatchewan
Pulses are to Saskatchewan as oil is to Alberta—big business: More than $2.4 billion worth of lentils were exported from the province in 2015. You can savour variations on lentil soup most anywhere in Saskatchewan, but for a more unique take on the ingredient, try Regina-based Rebellion Brewery’s red lentil cream ale.

5  Lake Fish, Manitoba
Manitoba’s commercial fishing industry hauls in about $30 million annually, meaning you’ll find plenty of lake fish on restaurant menus. Try smoked wild goldeye (when available) at Deer + Almond in Winnipeg’s Warehouse District, or pickerel cheeks at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights’ Era Bistro.

Why you need travel medical insurance—even when journeying within Canada

6  Beaver Tails, Ontario
Named for its resemblance to the tail of our national animal, this fried-dough treat comes with sweet toppings like cinnamon and sugar or chocolate and banana. They originated near Ottawa, so enjoy one while strolling the city’s Byward Market in summer, or skating along the frozen Rideau Canal during winter.

7  Smoked Meat, Quebec
Few foods garner as much attention in Quebec as the Montreal smoked-meat sandwich. It’s widely available at restaurants and delis, but the best spot for brisket is Schwartz’s Deli in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal. Order it with medium fat for moist meat.

8  Clams, P.E.I.
Fresh seafood is abundant at restaurants across the island, but it’ll be even fresher if you catch it yourself. From May to October, P.E.I. Coastal Experiences operates clam-digging excursions, during which you will seek out soft-shell clams, followed by a boil of the day’s catch.

9  Viking Feast, Newfoundland
Explorers from northern Europe arrived here about 1,000 years ago. It’s not clear why they didn’t stay, but archaeologists have unearthed artifacts at L’Anse aux Meadows to perfectly recreate Viking life. Feast like one during summer months with moose stew, cod tongues, baked salmon and roast capelin served at a sod-covered restaurant in the town of St. Anthony.

10  Rappie Pie, Nova Scotia
This traditional dish of grated potatoes with onions and chicken or pork is hardy like its Acadian creators, who were strong in the face of adversity: In 1755, thousands of French colonists were forced out of Canada by the Brits. Some years later they were allowed to return, and many resettled along Nova Scotia’s southwest shore. Try a pie at Rendez-Vous de la Baie in Church Point.

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*AMA Travel Insurance is underwritten by Orion Travel Insurance Company.  Certain exclusions, limitations and restrictions apply. Subject to certain terms, conditions and limitations.