Tuesday, June 13, 2023


      I did a post about 10 days ago about learning to grocery shop. I remarked about northern rations and a few people asked questions and that got me thinking about government food rations. 

     My time in the Arctic started in 1963. At that time it was a different world. Settlements were hundreds of miles apart. The only business in the small settlements was the trader. The trader took skins and the aboriginals got guns, bullets, knives and traps. The trading post was not heated. The only food they carried was flour, baking powder, tea and sugar. 

     So if the government was going to send in a teacher or other employee, to such a settlement they had to supply food. So this is why I was given a big pile of food. We laughed and joked about our rations and how pathetic they were. Someone who had never been in the north probably made them up. The rations were also constricted by storage facilities. We had a little three burner electric stove and a tiny little refrigerator. The suites were complete with dishes , pots , pans and cutlery. 

     So what did we get in the 1000 lb of food? There were many things we had not seen before. There was no fresh food. There was 2 hundred pounds of flour as they expected us to make our own bread. Ha, ha if your a 23 year old male who'd never cooked before . Most of the women at that time had not made bread either. There were many stories about the messes of bread making. 

    We had  tinned potatoes and powdered potatoes both equally gross. We had powdered milk that we couldn't mix so lots of lumps in your cornflakes. There was lots of canned milk. There was lots of macaroni, spaghetti and rice. There was lots of canned vegetables and fruit. Meat you ask? The meat was all canned. Try canned bacon or sausages. They were terrible. So there was klik and spam and canned ham. 

    There were lots of cookies, jello, and puddings. I forgot cake mixes!

     Then there were such things as jam, butter(tinned of course) tea, coffee, sugar, salt and a few spices.

    So for this 23 year old kid, the cases  of soup that were to last for a year were gone by November. Next the beans ran out!

    I didn't learn how to make bread but I did learn how to make pancakes.

    We had most things in the rations but they were a bit different so we had to learn a few things to make proper use of the food. 

     We did have a small grocery store but the prices were outrageous. Families didn't buy  things at the store. I bought bread and I don't remember what it cost. Bananas were a dollar. 

    When I look back it this it was a balanced diet but many of the things were difficult to work with and didn't fit in with standard recipes. 

    I lived in a 32 suit single staff. We traded much food and quite often ate together. Girls cooked and received what ever they wanted out of our rations. 

     They wee great days and I often think back to the good old northern food rations.