Fire / Feu



L’alimentation à Spryfield 1920 à 1960

L’arrivée de l’électricité, des systèmes d’eaux et d'égouts municipaux, des chaussées revêtues, des supermarchés, des casse-croûtes et des transports publics, tout cela a eut des effets inéluctables sur: l’activité physique, la source de nos aliments et la période de leur entreposage, ce que nous mangeons, comment nous en faisons la préparation et même quand nous les consommons.

Un projet du "Urban Farm Museum" examine comment ces changements affectent notre vie et notre santé, ainsi que les manières que nous pouvons ranimer et pratiquer certaines des méthodes traditionnelles de produire et préparer la nourriture et les autres nécessités de la vie. Le musée effectue une étude portant sur Spryfield (près d’Halifax, Nouvelle-Écosse) afin d’examiner les aliments et les traditions reliées à la nourriture et le mode de vie dans la région par le passé. 

Spryfield était essentiellement autosuffisante jusqu’à récemment. On espère remettre en production certaines des meilleures et plus anciennes terres agricoles de Spryfield, de les rendre disponibles pour la culture, l’étude et la célébration de notre patrimoine agricole.





(Image: Leland Daugherty)

Food in Spryfield
1920 to 1960

Urban Farm Museum Society
Michele Raymond
June 2001


he twentieth century in North America was marked by a steady move towards urbanization. In Canada, the process was a little slower than in the United States, and in the Maritimes, a little slower than in other parts of Canada. Halifax became one of the major urban centres of the Maritimes, but some parts of the city, in their turn, stayed rural a little longer than others. Spryfield Nova Scotia is one of those areas.

(photo: Mainland South Heritage Society)

In Spryfield, we are lucky to be able to see how, in one community, these changes have affected lifestyle. The advent of electricity, municipal water and sewer, paved roads, supermarkets, fast food outlets and public transport have all had effects: on physical activity; where we get our food, how long we need to store it, and how we do; what we eat, how we prepare it, and even when we eat it.

The Urban Farm Museum is intended to be a place where we can examine these changes and how they affect our life and health, and where we can revive and practise some of the traditional ways of producing and preparing food and other necessaries of life. This is important for all of us, but perhaps most of all for children and young people in our local schools. We hope to return some of Spryfield's oldest and best farmlands to production, making them available for cultivation, for study, and for celebration of our agricultural heritage.

The report, "Food in Spryfield, 1920 to 1960" is the result of research conducted for the Urban Farm Museum Society in the summer of 2000 by Naomi Thompson, a biology student at Dalhousie University.

Naomi interviewed thirty-one people who had lived in Spryfield between 1920 and 1960 (i.e. earliest living memory, through to the time by which paved roads, electricity, and public transport had become firmly established).She asked about what foods people remembered eating, where they came from, how food was stored or preserved, what were 'special' foods, and when they were eaten.

Clearly, Spryfield was essentially self-sufficient until quite recently. Grains, fats and nuts were no longer locally produced by the twentieth century (except for hay, grown and sold in some of the nearby coastal areas), but everyone interviewed said their family had a vegetable garden which supplied most of the produce they ate. Water came from wells or springs, so supplies fluctuated. Many families grew fruit or berries and preserved them for year-round use.

Most also sought out the wild foods native to the area and the nearby coast: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, Indian pear, huckleberries, mushrooms, fiddleheads, partridge, pheasant, rabbit, deer, eels, moose, trout, salmon, smelts, clams, mussels, and lobster. Also sought were a few others no longer so widely eaten: periwinkles, porcupines and the seeds of certain ferns ("wild corn"). Children's favorite snack foods were similarly varied: toast, turnip, bread and molasses, fruit, and baked goods.

Dairy foods were locally produced, or brought in from Portuguese Cove or Bear Cove; several families made butter and cheeses. Milk was stored by hanging it in the well to cool. Most people mentioned keeping poultry and eating a wide variety of eggs: chicken, turkey, goose and duck. Eggs and milk were often traded, sold or given away.

(photo: Mainland South Heritage Society)

Because storage options were sometimes limited, certain foods were strongly associated with particular seasons or times of the week. Meat and fish were eaten within a day of being caught, or were smoked for winter use while greens and salads were summer food. If there was any food shortage remembered, it was that of "after winter", "before the vegetables came". Those patterns were the root of traditions which persisted until recently.

We hope this report will be of interest to anyone who now lives in Spryfield, as well as those who remember living here, or whose parents or grandparents lived here. If it reminds you of other foods or traditions related to food in the area, please let us know. This project goes on, as we continue looking at how we and others have lived in the past in the place we live today.