Upper Canada Foodways: An Analysis of Faunal Remains Recovered from Urban and Rural Domestic Sites in Toronto (York), AD 1794-1900
thesisposted on 27.02.2017 by Eric Daniel Tourigny
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
This thesis investigates foodways in 19th-century Toronto, providing a critical examination of the relationship between food and identity in an emerging city and new province. Specifically, it asks if zooarchaeological remains can provide a nuanced understanding of how food was used in the expression of identities by early Ontarians. Faunal analyses were conducted for a number of urban and rural domestic assemblages located in and around the city and these were compared to published and unpublished faunal reports from across Upper Canada. Historical documents were examined for information on foodways and then contrasted with the zooarchaeological data. The discussion describes how various sources of meat were incorporated into 19th-century Toronto and Upper Canada foodways. Previous scholarship suggests pork was highly favoured by Upper Canadians and featured in most meals. It was also generally understood that the province’s earliest settlers needed to rely on wild sources of meat upon initial settlement and that British immigrants simply adapted their own foodways to local conditions. The results presented in this research challenges all of these assumptions and warns against the use of such homogenizing statements which only serve to mask realities. Zooarchaeological and historical data indicate individual households preferred different types of meat. Despite the variability in diet, British and American settlers maintained foodways that were traditional to them and did not ‘adapt’ to their new surroundings, relying instead on increased access to markets to supply themselves with the foods they prefer. This research also highlights the neglected/under-reported role of fish and seafood in the Upper Canadian diet and challenges some assumptions held by the Ontario zooarchaeological community.