CP 1936 Empress Hotel Menu

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.

Click image to download a 1.8-MB PDF of this menu.

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?).


CP 1936 Empress Hotel Menu — 1 Comment

  1. They’ve got that sneaky “Canadian Pacific” steak on he menu again, and the sardines are back, but at least none of that other strange meat-like stuff. Yeah, Fleischmann’s Yeast was commonly consumed with a meal back then, either by eating the whole cake (you needed as torng constitution or no taste buds to do so) or by dissolving it in tea or hot water and lemon. It was supposed to help the flora in the intestines replenish itself and was thought to be especially good for gout, a much more common ailment in 1936 than today. That part about yeast is completely untrue, since yeast stimulates the production of uric acid, the gout factor. People believed all kinds of weird stuff in 1936.


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