Cold lobster with mayonnaise?
Pictured is a scan of a Jasper Park Lodge restaurant menu I have. The menu is dated Wednesday, July 22, 1953. The menu depicts Spirit Island on Jasper’s famous Maligne Lake.
The words “Canadian National System” are written on the bottom of the restaurant menu. Therefore, it is likely that travelers who received this menu were traveling across Canada on a Canadian National Railway transcontinental train ride and making a stop in Jasper for sightseeing and meals at Jasper Park Lodge.
Given that printing full color menus in 1953 was not cheap, nor was/is Jasper Park Lodge, I’m guessing this was an upscale dining experience.
Imagine the scene.
People sit in the Jasper Park Lodge restaurant talking about Ford and Chevy cars, B&W televisions or the black bear they saw from the window of the train. In 1953, the geographic region had only been a national park for less than 50 years.
The dining experience starts with the waitstaff delivering celery and olives to the table as a snack. The tourists are given a menu and choice of drinks, fruit supreme, grenadine, merry widow cocktail, or chilled tomato juice. A merry widow cocktail, not as common today, is an alcoholic drink made with brandy, maraschino liqueur and a cherry.
Next comes the soup.
The travelers pick from the fancy-sounding “consomme vert pre” (probably some sort of veggie broth) or the less fancy sounding “jellied broth” or “cream of green beans”.
The Main Course
The Main Course selections for the day featured a wide variety of cuisines, some French, some traditional:
- Fresh lake trout saute, meuniere
- Breaded veal chop with spaghetti, chef’s style
- Sugar-cured ham glace, pineapple fritters
- Broiled beef tournedos, bearnaise
- Roast turkey, cranberry sauce
- Cold lobster, mayonnaise
- Fruit plate with cottage cheese, brown bread
The Jasper travelers would be served their main course meal along with lettuce and french dressing and a vegetable. The vegetable selection was mashed, boiled or au gratin potatoes, new green beans and cauliflower with fine herbs. Apparently “new green beans” differ from plain “green beans” in that new green beans are picked earlier in the season.
Dessert, the other main course.
Everyone loves dessert. Dessert is one of the things to look forward to when traveling. Jasper in the 1950s was no exception. The dessert served on this fine 1953 evening consisted of a choice of frozen puff, frosted layer cake, pear cream pie, cantaloupe a lo mode or a cheese board (selection of cheeses).
The Jasper travelers of the 1950s
Imagine the travelers wearing the fashion of the 1950s.
Maybe the travelers who received this menu were going from Vancouver to Toronto or maybe just Vancouver to Edmonton. Jasper National Park was one of the notable stops on the route.
Travelers would ride the train and then spend a day or two at the park, taking in sites like Maligne Lake or wandering around the Jasper Park Lodge (now known as the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge). The engine car may have been like this steam locomotive train, typical of what was in operation in 1953.
Our July 22, 1953 Jasper National Park travelers not only had a great meal, but a few days later, they’d learn that the Korean War ended, a war that took the lives of over 300 Canadians and injured hundreds more.
A few years after this dinner, the more famous train line called “The Canadian” line launched with new trains and an even better transcontinental train ride experience.
Today, train buffs seeking a Canadian train adventure with stops in Jasper should look at Via Rail who offers a service here that is top notch. It is not cheap, but must be one of the best train travel experiences in the world. There’s a good article about the modern transcontinental Canada train experience here.