Irma Chapman tastes “the sweetest sin” at the Virgin Mady Organic Maple Products booth during the History of Food Festival in Bury.
Stories of culinary revolutions, tastes of many origins, cooking utensils of bygone eras, our region’s delicacies, visitors from here and abroad. The History of Food in Estrie Festival offered all this and more to the 113 people attending in Bury’s Armoury Community Centre on August 31.
Organized by the Bury Historical and Heritage Society, the festival brought together local food producers, antique kitchen and farm equipment, a variety of speakers, and food itself. Seated at café tables, participants heard short bilingual presentations. After each speaker, volunteers served them food.
The Society’s president, Praxède Lévesque-Lapointe, described three culinary revolutions in our area. Thousands of years ago, the Iroquois people brought about the first. European settlers brought the second. Then immigration and industrialization produced the third around the year 1900.
Participants enjoyed 13 samples of foods illustrating 150 years of history, including smoked trout, Scottish barley soup, Irish Boxty, French Pot au feu, Loyalist baked beans, Grands-pères in maple syrup, and blueberry pudding.
A team of eight volunteers prepared the food and served it, headed by Doris Bolduc. Cheerful conversation and exclamations of “Delicious!” and “Perfect!” were heard from participants.
Yvon Audet showed off various old-style grains. Sylviane Bégin spoke about garlics and garlic flowers. Gilles Denis gave a graphic presentation about food distribution. Gilles Gaulin described traditional maple sugaring. Rémi Robert of the 11 comtés brewery talked about beer.
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau spoke about Canada’s new food policy. She met with many of the participants, including Ms. Awa Ba from Senegal who is here in the Townships to learn more about organic agriculture. Ba is a community organizer for the Water for African Women projet led by Jonathon Ellison from our area.
A Cookbooklet of 11 old-timey recipes was offered for sale by the Society, which also displayed various kitchen antiques and edible wild plants. The Eaton Corner Museum set up an old-fashioned kitchen, complete with butter churn.
Other displays: Preserves and homemade wine, with Joel Barter. Sea buckthorn products, by herbalist Christiane Chartier of Les Jardins de Paromel. Seeds of Diversity by Brian Creelman, on the history of seeds and our way back from almost destroying our local food diversity. Prize-winning organic maple butters and jellies by Virgin Mady of Bury. Farm produce and preserves by Mysie Paul. Beer by 11 comtés of Cookshire.
Outside, musicians Janice LaDuke & Dave Gillies and France Thibault & Laurent Hubert played old-fashioned music. Dallas Campbell from Island Brook showed off his 1925 Fordson tractor, and Bury Mayor Walter Dougherty rode the Municipality’s 1929 Fairway tractor.
The festival was organized by a committee of Lévesque-Lapointe, John Mackley, Céline Martineau and Edward Pederson, aided by dozens of volunteers and seven partnering organizations, including Townshippers’ Foundation, the office of Minister Bibeau, the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network, and the Cookshire IGA.
“Bravo, and thanks to all who helped us!” concluded Lévesque-Lapointe.