Although this menu has a photograph of Victoria’s Empress Hotel on the cover, the menu itself was used aboard a dining car on the Dominion, which was CP’s premiere train after the cancellation of the Trans-Canada Limited in 1931. The menu doubles as an advertisement for the hotel, which was part of Canadian Pacific’s long list of lodgings. The menu has a presumed date code of “V-11-36” which I assume means May, 1936.
The transition from colorized photographs on menu covers in the 1920s to sepia-toned photos in the 1930s may be a reflection of the economic conditions of the times. The menu itself has changed as well: there’s a true table d’hôte side with six entrées: fish, lamb fricassee, lamb chops, chicken pie, beef ribs, and sirloin steak. The sirloin steak dinner is the most expensive item at $1.50 (about $20 today), which is a good deal considering that in 1925 the sirloin steak alone was $1.50.
The a la carte side, like the 1925 menus, has well over a dozen entrées, including a sirloin steak for $1.50. Is this the same steak that came with a full meal for the same price? Others include three kinds of fish (rare for a dining car menu), three vegetable entrées, and various combinations of eggs and bacon.
There are also seven desserts, including both cherry and apple pie; seven kinds of jams or jellies in individual jars, most for 15 cents each (about $2 today); and several breads and rolls. Beverages include three different kinds of coffee; beef and regular tea; hot cocoa, Ovaltine, and malted milk; and Fleischman’s yeast, 10 cents a cake (that’s a beverage?).