The Beavertail

In Canada, Cuisine by Lenore NewmanLeave a Comment

The Beavertail donut might not be made from Canada’s iconic and hardworking little dam builders, but it is a tasty treat that has spread nationally and then globally in a short period of time. I was in Ottawa last week to give a Walrus Talk, and I had enough extra time to spend a little time in the Byward Market district. I finally managed to get a nice photo of the original Beavertail shack, and enjoyed one of these tasty Canadian treats.

The Beavertail, which is a registered trademark, is a rare example of a food where we know exactly when and where it was created, and who the chefs behind the creation were. It was developed and popularized by Grant and Pamela Hooker in the town of Killaloe, which is near to Algonquin national park. They sold the first ones at the local market, but knew that the sweet treats were a hit, and opened a stand in Ottawa a few years later. Beavertails are sold in many of Canada’s recreational landscapes, places such as Whistler, Blue Mountain, and the Halifax Waterfront. They are a festive food. The best way to eat a Beavertail, however, is while skating on the Rideau Canal, a quintessentially Canadian experience.

Beavertail 2

The toppings are varied, though I am partial to the maple glaze. There are savory toppings as well and one of my friends insists on the lemon glaze. In any case they are best eaten hot, particularly on a cold day. In Quebec they are known as Queues de castor. Though the Hookers claim the recipe comes from their family’s German background, there really isn’t any similar treat that involves sweet flavours in German cuisine that is quite like this. Keekla is similar but is almost always served wrapped around meat, rather like pigs in a blanket. And one doesn’t roll a Beavertail! So this quirky Canadian icon would appear to be made in Canada, and the Hookers can be proud in adding something new and distinctive to our cuisine. And Beavertails are certainly good with a hot cup of coffee!

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