January 18, 1886
Cooks have a reputation of being temperamental, they have been known to burst into fits of rage and walk out of the kitchen. Such, was the temperament of Henry Laneman, one of the pastry cooks at the Atlantic Hotel in St. John’s.
The Atlantic Hotel, located at 102 Water Street was the most prestigious hotel in the city at the time. It was opened in 1875 by J.W. Foran.
There was the practice in the larger kitchens of St. John’s in the 1880’s that allowed for “hotel cooks to be given a liberal allowance of pale brandy” it was “one of the perquisites of hotel cooks.”
In January 1886, Henry Laneman was angry, on this occasion the pastry cook got a sufficiency of liquor to make him saucy enough to ask for “more.” He felt that his employer John Foran, the proprietor of the Atlantic Hotel had “stinted” the supply of pale brandy, he was so angry that he assaulted the proprietor of that establishment.
The police were quickly on the scene and marched Mr. Laneman, described in the local newspapers as “the luckless compounder of sugar and spice and all that’s nice,” off to prison.
Mr. Foran did not press the charge of assault but because of the police interference the case went before the courts, Judge Daniel Prowse looked down compassionately at the prisoner.
The local St. John’s newspaper, The Evening Telegram reported:
“Judge Prowse was inwardly imagining, no doubt, what the pastry cooks feelings would have been on suddenly finding himself transferred from a luxurious discussion of “soups, roasts and ragouts” (at the restaurant hotel) to the stern realities of “hard tack and cold water”. (of the prison)
Judge Prowse decided that, in view of the pangs already suffered by the pastry cook, imprisonment would not be the proper course to serve, but he “insisted that the cook pay a fine of three dollars to appease the angry wraith of justice.”
Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives take some time to read GN 1/16 this collection includes Daily Programs, Government House Dinners, seating, plans, menus etc. 1913-1922. Take a look at how the upper crust of St. John’s lived and dined.
Recommended Exhibit: Truth or Myth: Feast and Famine: Truth or Myth? draws on the permanent collection to explore the changing relationship between cultural identity and food in Newfoundland and Labrador, as portrayed by artists such as Grant Boland, Ross Flowers, Jamie Lewis, Mary Pratt, and Helen Parsons Shepherd. See more at: https://www.therooms.ca/exhibits/now/truth-or-myth-feast-and-famine#sthash.2FE40iQz.dpuf