Canuck-themed restos give the world a taste of Canada, make expats feel at home

From Japan to Brazil, Canuck-centric bars and restaurants are set to ring in Canada Day

Canuck-themed restos give the world a taste of Canada, make expats feel at home

Growing up, Paryse Lambert spent summers with her mother’s family in Quebec indulging in French-Canadian staples including croque monsieur, steak hache, and of course, poutine.

After settling down in Jacksonville, Fla., the dual U.S.-Canadian citizen longed for that mouth-watering medley of crispy french fries and slinky cheese curds smothered in gravy. What she found were grotesque mutations of the dish with shredded mozzarella broiled over what seemed like a spud-based baked ziti.

These American abominations were nothing short of “shameful,” said Lambert. So, she decided to rectify this culinary crime by launching the Stuffed Beaver, one of many establishments around the world devoted to an unexpected theme: Canada.

From Japan to Brazil, Canuck-centric bars and restaurants are set to ring in Canada Day with festivities featuring Tragically Hip cover bands, maple-infused menus and a steady flow of caesars.

Bedecked in kitsch Canadiana ranging from local licence plates to sports jerseys, these red-and-white restos are exporting Canadian culture and cuisine to a global audience, while serving as a hub for expats to be reminded of the comforts of home, proprietors say.

“(Canadians) are growing like cockroaches here, even in northern Florida,” said Lambert. “We’re an underserved market.”

A stone’s throw away from the Interstate 95, which serves as a migration route for snowbirds and other sun-seekers, the Stuffed Beaver regularly caters to Canadians making their way across the border, said Lambert.

Behind the counter hangs a map dotted with the hometowns of visitors from Yukon to Prince Edward Island who have savoured her “grandma’s kitchen food” while travelling through the U.S. South, she said.

“When they hear that there are other Canadians, they get really excited,” she said. “They say, ‘it feels like being home,’ so I know I’m doing something right.”

Hearty fare like crepes, poutine and lobster rolls also isn’t a tough sell for Americans, Lambert added.

On Canada Day, the counter-service joint will host a special event for 20 guests to dine on a seven-course feast featuring vol-au-vent, salmon tartare, boeuf bouilli and poor man’s pudding by the light of a candelabra.

It may lack the star-spangled flash of the Fourth of July, Lambert concedes, but she can’t think of a better way to celebrate Canada’s national pride than with a full stomach.

Halfway around the world in Queensland, Australia, Alana and Mike Vandenbrink will be toasting pints of Molson not only to Canada Day, but the third-anniversary of opening Mollydookers Cafe and Bar in the small country town of Apple Tree Creek.

The Aussie-Canuck couple goes all out for the dual celebration, bolstering their sprawling menu of cross-hemispheric cuisine with perogies, dry ribs, pickle spears, smoked salmon latkes and venison.

The eatery also hosts games such as “You’re Welcome/We’re Sorry,” in which photos of Canadian celebrities are tacked to a wall for patrons to sort into one of two categories: cultural ambassadors the world is grateful for, and those who bring shame on our country’s reputation.

The Tragically Hip is permanently fixed in the “You’re Welcome” bracket, they said, while Nickelback is stapled under the heading, “We sincerely apologize. Please forgive us!”

But the Vandenbrinks note other iconic artists can be divisive, with fans and haters switching Shania Twain and Celine Dion from side to side throughout the day.

The Vandenbrinks named Mollydookers after the Australian slang term for southpaw in a wink to Alana being left-handed.

The two met when Alana was an Australian exchange student at the University of Waterloo, and Mike, who grew up near London, Ont., was her bartender. Or, as they like to joke: “So a left-handed ‘roo and a right-handed moose walk into a bar…”

This origin story is emblazoned in the restaurant’s logo of a moose-versus-marsupial boxing match. But in reality, Alana Vandenbrink said the relationship between their respective homelands is more adoring than adversarial.

Despite being roughly 14,000 kilometres apart, many Australians see Canada as a kindred country, she said.

“There’s a lot of Aussies that come in probably more passionate than the Canadians, which is not something we expected,” she said.

When he opened BJ’s Canadian Bar in southern Portugal two decades ago, Pat Ferreira says the watering hole’s maple-crested branding was a way to set it apart from the British and Irish pubs catering to vacationers on the Algarve coast.

But Ferreira said the sports bar has evolved into a “home away from home” for the increasing number of Canadian backpackers and retirees taking in the nightlife of Albufeira.

The bar’s slogan is “a taste of the true North in the beautiful South” — a place to root for Canadian sports teams while sipping on Canadian brews and cocktails.

For the international crowd that flocks to BJ’s, he said the appeal is almost “a connection to a dream” for people entranced by Canada’s natural beauty.

Others feel connected through friends and relatives who have moved there, which Ferreira sees as emblematic of the multiculturalism that makes Canada Day a global celebration.

“There’s something about being Canadian that brings us all together in a way that I’ve never seen in any other nationality,” Ferreira said.

“That’s really what makes Canada Day something that everybody wants to be a part of: It’s just a mix of everybody together and acceptance of everything we are.”

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nelson Leafs
Matthew Byrne scores 3 as Nelson Leafs hammer Grand Forks

Byrne already has 11 points through three games

With new Provincial Health Orders, area sports teams will suspend all travel including the Trail Smoke Eaters and Trail minor hockey rep teams and some house teams. Photo: Jim Bailey.
New COVID regs suspend junior and minor hockey rep play

All West Kootenay travelling hockey teams have been grounded until Dec. 7

(Black Press file)
Interior Health reports 31 new COVID-19 cases

In the region, health authority reports 235 total active cases

The Nelson Police Department says a pedestrian was hit at a crosswalk Wednesday evening. File photo
Nelson Police: Pedestrian hit by vehicle at crosswalk

The vehicle was not going fast and the victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Pictured is the Cranbrook gravel pit, located between two graveyards near the public works yard. This is where two lost kids were located by a Salvador Ready Mix driver on Thursday, November 19, 2020. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Two lost Cranbrook kids find their way home thanks to Salvador Ready Mix driver

The driver found the children wandering near the gravel pits in Cranbrook

Care home staff are diligent about wearing personal protective equipment when they are in contact with residents, but less so when they interact with other staff members, B.C. Seniors Advocate says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
More COVID-19 testing needed for senior home staff, B.C.’s advocate says

Employees mingling spotted as virus conductor in many workplaces

Most Read