Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October unlike the American Thanksgiving, which falls in November. Some people believe this is because Canada, being farther north, has an earlier harvest. Whereas some think that having Thanksgiving in November interfered with Remembrance Day, a day set apart each year on November 11th to remember those who died in wars.
The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did not succeed but he did establish a settlement in Northern America. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now called Newfoundland, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving. Other settlers arrived and continued these ceremonies. He was later knighted and had an inlet off the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him – Frobisher Bay.
In 1879, Parliament declared November 6th a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday. Over the years many dates were used for Thanksgiving. After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11th occurred. Ten years later, in 1931, the two days became separate holidays and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day.
Finally on the 31st January 1957 the Canadian Parliament proclaimed that….
‘A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed…..to be observed on the second Monday in October.’
Growing up we always celebrated Thanksgiving with turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, squash casserole, string beans, cranberry sauce and last but not least, pumpkin and apple pies. It’s hard to imagine something as savory as pumpkin could be a dessert. The recipe below is one I use and when my friends try it for the first time they are amazed at how good it tastes!
425g. (15 oz.) pumpkin (fresh pureed or canned)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
2/3 cup evaporated milk
Pastry for 1 single 9″ pie crust
Mix pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, and spices in a large bowl. Add eggs, lightly beat them in with a fork. Add both milks and mix well. Put crust into 9 inch pie pan and fill with pumpkin mixture. Cover edges of crust with foil and bake at 375f for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
The Culinary Chase’s note: I sometimes use whole milk instead of evaporated milk. Fondly enough, I don’t make this pie unless it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter.