Tag Archives: Foran

Luckless compounder of “sugar and spice…”

Archival Moment

January 18, 1886

Chef-Drinking-Wine-Bottle-HolderCooks 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

Rhubarb Pie in Ice and Snow?


February 23, 1889

rhubarbSubscribers to the St. John’s newspaper, The Daily Colonist  on February 23, 1889 read that a “Newfoundland Rhubarb pie” had been served at the Atlantic Hotel.

Why did a rhubarb pie make the news?

There was much conversation in the town about the pie, it appears that it may have been the first rhubarb grown and served in Newfoundland during the winter season. The reporter wrote:

“The vegetable was grown by Mr. J.T. Neville, at Rae Island farm and tastes as succulent and nutritious as if pulled in June. The stalks are quite large and can be seen under their glass covers by visitors to Mr. Neville’s place on the Waterford – Bridge road.”

Mr. & Mrs. Neville leased a fifty acre piece of property that encompassed the Waterford and Kilbride Rivers that they named Rae Island Farm. It was at the farm where they experimented with growing vegetables in a hot house. Rae Island Farm is known today as Bowring Park.

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.

The newspaper article concluded:

“Fresh rhubarb in Newfoundland in January! What will our friends across the water say to this? Those friends who have always looked upon Newfoundland as being covered in ice and snow three fourths of the year will certainly be surprised.”

Recommended Reading: Sean Cadigan, “The Staple Model Reconsidered: The Case of Agricultural Policyn Northeast Newfoundland, 1785-1855”, Acadiensis, XXI, 2 (Spring 1992), pp. 48- 71.