What Does one Eat When Cruising Through Quebec?

“Know Canada Better.” This was the tagline of a promotional booklet published by Canada Steamship Lines advertising its 1960 Vacation Cruises passing through the St-Lawrence and Saguenay rivers. Amongst these ships cruising that route was the S.S. Richelieu,” one of the largest, most luxurious liners in the Canada Steamship Lines fleet. The week-long voyage promised an exciting journey from Montreal, taking passengers far into the lower St. Lawrence and then venturing into the beauty of Saguenay. The ship would pass the awe-inspiring heights of Capes Trinity and Eternity, leading all the way to Chicoutimi, nestled in the renowned Lake St. John district. After a restful night on board the ship, passengers would have the delightful opportunity to spend a substantial portion of the day exploring both Tadoussac and Murray Bay. There was ample time to enjoy a variety of activities such as golf, tennis, horseback riding, dancing, swimming, or even fishing in private trout lakes – all of which are integral to the vibrant lifestyle of these renowned Northern resort colonies. Furthermore, a full day awaited those on board in the picturesque city of Quebec. The cruise would end with a side trip to Ste. Anne de Beaupré and Montmorency Falls, before coming back to Montreal.

The itinerary was not the S.S. Richelieu’s most alluring attribute, however. Its grandeur was enriched by its cuisine. A promotional booklet from 1955 lauds the steamship’s “cuisine par excellence,” reassuring passengers that every expectation would be met. Five menus from the S.S. Richelieu have found their place in our collections, each detailing the offerings of a different day of the week. The abundance of variety and choices presented each day is a testament to the culinary opulence that characterized the S.S. Richelieu’s dining experience.

Even though the S.S. Richelieu concluded its voyages in the 1960s, and modern transportation has since become faster and more efficient, the ship’s menu remains a testament to the sophistication it once offered through its fine dining. One splendid dinner menu for Friday is currently being displayed at ROAAr’s summer exhibition “En Route! Touring la Belle Province in the 19th and 20th centuries and today.” As the title implies, just like the S.S. Richelieu, this exhibition takes you on a captivating journey through the province. However, instead of traversing waters, the exploration unfolds through an enchanting collection of ephemera from our archives, including posters, maps, postcards, and of course, menus.

  • TSS Richelieu menu
    Canada Steamship Lines. Collection of Five Menus for the T.s.s. Richelieu. Canada Steamship Lines, 195-AD.

To compliment our exploration of Quebec, we believe it’s fitting to pay homage to the flavours that carry the essence of a Friday evening aboard the ship. In that spirit, we have selected some menu items from the vintage dinner card on display and uncovered some recipes for these culinary delights from our collection of Quebec and Canadian cookbooks. The six items we chose are cream of corn soup, Spanish omelet, lobster salad, braised celery, pineapple and cottage cheese salad, and cheese and crackers. While the recipes shown below may not have been the exact recipes used by the chefs aboard, a closer look at the dishes served on the S.S. Richelieu is our way of reviving a part of the voyage’s hospitable essence.

  • pineapple and cheese salad
    Canada Steamship Lines. S.s. Richelieu Cruises 1955 : Through Lovely French Canada. Canada Steamship Lines, 1955.

While ROAAr’s latest exhibition does not include delicious meals, it compensates with an exceptional assortment of recipes and other intriguing content pertaining to the province that will surely captivate your senses. We warmly welcome you to explore the rich culture and beauty of Quebec as showcased in our display, located in the McLennan Library Building lobby until September 30th. Don’t miss out!

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