Story Ideas

Dining with history.

Dig into delicious meal with a side of Canadian history

05 February 2016

Suggested tweet: Eat your way through Canadian history: #ExploreCanada

From cafes and restaurants tucked behind famous facades to out-of-the-way dining spots with views of bygone times, these historic eateries are windows into Canada’s past.

Eat and drink in historic buildings.

Now one of Halifax’s best-known spots, The Five Fishermen Restaurant was once a schoolhouse and a funeral home, handling many of the victims of the Titanic after it sank off the coast of Newfoundland in 1912 as well as the Halifax Explosion in 1917. Nowadays, diners come for some of the country’s freshest seafood, including mussels, oysters, and lobster. 

Once called the “Citadel of Upper Canada,” the stone block Fort Henry National Historic Site in Kingston, ON, was built on the crest of a peninsula to guard the entrance to the Rideau Canal. In summer and early fall, the Battery Bistro patio has the best view of Lake Ontario and the city’s downtown.

The Fortress of Louisbourg, a Parks Canada National Historic Site, is a detailed recreation of the massive 18th century French fortifications at Louisbourg on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. Visit one of the period-themed restaurants and eat meals based on the traditions and recipes of New France that are prepared and served by costumed. In the summer months, rum tastings link Louisbourg to its historic rum trade.

Enjoy a meal surrounded by history.

The 20-block Exchange District National Historic Site in Winnipeg, MB, is a time capsule of around 150 heritage buildings from the turn-of-the-century that have aged virtually intact. Walking tours (May to September) dig into the heart of the Exchange District’s foodie culture, or choose from one of the 51 restaurants and cafes found in the area.

Sitting at the foot of Brock’s Monument, overlooking the Niagara River and a historic battlefield of the War of 1812, you’ll find the Queenston Heights Restaurant. This popular Sunday Brunch stop is also just a short drive from thundering Niagara Falls.

In the middle of Quebec’s Gatineau Park, at the Mackenzie King Café and Tearoom, you can enjoy traditional English afternoon tea in a beautiful setting overlooking the gardens of the Mackenzie King Estate. This was once the country home of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s longest-serving prime minister. It’s the perfect spot to celebrate Canada Day.

What was once a thriving limestone quarry has been transformed into the internationally famous Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC. The luxurious Butchart estate now houses eateries in the grand dining room and the conservatory, overlooking the spectacular formal gardens.

Dine in historic hotels.
Many of the original railway hotels—now storied properties under the Fairmont name—have historic dining settings.

Quebec’s Château Montebello serves local farm-to-table ingredients in the dining room of the world’s largest log “cabin.”

A stone’s throw from the Parliament Buildings, Ottawa’s Château Laurier is nicknamed “the third chamber of Parliament” because of the political discussions and deals made under its roof. The hotel serves vintage cocktails and Afternoon Tea in Zoé’s Lounge, named after Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s wife.

Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park, built as a home base for outdoor enthusiasts more than a century ago, serves authentic western Canadian fare while honouring its Swiss guiding heritage.

Looking for more visual inspiration from Canada’s arts & culture experiences? Browse our Brand Canada Library for thousands of images and videos from all over Canada.

Follow us on Twitter @DestinationCAN

Usage guidelines

We welcome you to use these story ideas as inspiration for your own stories about Canada. The CTC owns all rights worldwide. (Our images are also royalty-free and available for editorial print, broadcast and electronic use.) If you choose to reproduce these texts for editorial use only, please include the author's byline and "courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission." If you cut, edit or modify the text in any way, please include this note: "The text has been modified from the original." Thank you.