If the thought of a tongue sandwich doesn’t make your mouth water, maybe a mash of peas or something tantalizing called “Old Canadian Cheese” is more to your liking. All of these delicacies and more were offered to diners lucky enough to eat at the luxurious Vancouver Hotel on the evening of September 19, 1940.
This return menu, posted on Reddit by a patron who found it while rummaging through his grandfather’s belongings, served some of the finest food of the time.
The Hotel Vancouver, now known as Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver, did not respond to your average Joe. Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen Mother, Babe Ruth, Winston Churchill and Anna Pavlova are just a few of the famous faces who have stayed at this historic downtown landmark.
For a menu nearly a century old, most of the restaurant selections at Hotel Vancouver are relatively recognizable for modern-day dining. BC classics like salmon and shellfish still grace people’s plates in town, but warming waters are changing how chefs choose what they serve. A recent report shows the differences between menus in Vancouver since 1880. Today, the Vancouver hotel restaurant is known as Notch8 and they’re doing their part by serving more sustainable seafood such as pan-fried scallops, roast cod, and pan-fried trout.
But back to 1940 and the distinguished dining at the Hotel Vancouver. Some Google-ing tells us the Queen Mother loved all things seafood, so for her we go for the Plank Sockeye Salmon Steak or maybe the Boundary Bay Crab, both available in the Dinner portion of deluxe menu for $1.50 or $27.24 in today’s money.
Babe Ruth had decidedly less refined taste, consuming raw ground beef, sirloin steaks, pounds of fried potatoes and apple pie on a regular basis. It can have tenderloins, one or all ten possible potato preparations, and a la carte dessert. And for Winston? Well, he loved turtle soup – luckily for him stew now banned was still allowed on menus, including the one at the Hotel Vancouver.
Aside from old Canadian cheese, which hopefully is aged cheddar, other mysteries on the menu include certified milk for 15 cents and jellied soup in a cup for 25 cents. My guess? Non-powdered milk and a type of aspic food. Give us your best guesses and of course your order! I take the club sandwich—classic.