Eat Modern Indigenous Food at Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, Alberta

Food with a side of history near Calgary. Plus, two more cultural spots to dine at in Ontario and Nova Scotia.
 

Bannock burger, photo by Jared Sych

To provide an even greater immersive experience, museums and art galleries across Canada are educating guests with their restaurant menus as well as their historic displays and gallery spaces.

At Alberta’s Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, located about an hour from Calgary, visitors can discover the rich cultural heritage of the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation and its people at the eco-friendly museum through immersive experiences—such as tipi sleepovers—and dining.

Chef Sandra Broad Scalplock is drawing from the region’s Indigenous culture so visitors can experience traditional foods served with a modern twist. On the menu are dishes such as smoked bison poutine with juniper gravy and hand-cut fries, bison burgers on fry bread and charcuterie boards filled with wild salmon, venison carpaccio, smoked bison jerky, and teriyaki beef jerky served with traditional fry bread, thinly sliced bannock crisps and house-made berry jams.

“Saskatoon berries, choke cherries and silver buffalo berries grow right along the Bow River at the foot of the hill,” says Broad Scalplock, who also boils wild berries down into syrups to make refreshing and naturally flavoured chilled drinks. “We go out back and gather them ourselves,” she says.

The chef draws on traditional food preparation techniques learnt during her childhood. “My grandparents picked berries in the summer and dried them to use through the winter,” she says. “And my mother taught me how to cut meat and dry it for pemmican, which is made with pounded dried meat and berries.”

Broad Scalplock loves sharing her knowledge, especially with younger generations, to keep the culinary culture alive. “Our traditional ways of eating are way healthier than fast food,” she says. “For example, bison is lean meat, and our bannock doesn’t have preservatives in it, because we make it fresh each day.”

As visitors tuck into chef Broad Scalplock’s dishes, they can also enjoy spectacular scenery from the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park restaurant patio. “It’s so pretty, with the views of the river, and you might even spot wildlife such as deer, moose and eagles.”


Two More Cultural Spots with Great Food

Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

Credit AGO

Admire executive chef Renée Bellefeuille’s artistry at the art gallery’s AGO Bistro, where fresh, local ingredients are used for every meal and curated dinners pay tribute to visiting exhibitions through creative culinary interpretations of the artworks. Be sure to try the Fogo Island Cod Goujons with crunchy fried capers and spicy remoulade sauce. There is also a cocktail hour known as cinq à sept.

Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, Nova Scotia

Credit Parks Canada Fortress of Louisbourg

Try traditional soldier’s bread from the King’s Bakery or the catch of the day served in an 18th-century tavern. Dine on authentic, working-class French fare such as pea soup and meat pie that have been made using heritage recipes. Wash it all down with hot buttered rum served in pewter cups at The Hotel de la Marine or the Grandchamps House.

[This story appears in the May 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine]