New Brunswick·Photos

13 odd, old-fashioned Thanksgiving images from New Brunswick

Scary turkeys. French butchers. Gourds for days. Here are 13 images showcasing nearly 140 years of Thanksgiving in New Brunswick.

Don't forget your Thanksgiving hat — and 'nobby' new furs

New Brunswickers are all about the feasting, as evidenced by a 1910 greeting card featuring a fat turkey, sheaves of wheat and a cornucopia of fruits and veggies. (New Brunswick Museum / Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick)

There's no question that Thanksgiving has a troubled history.

Love it or hate it — the fall feast has been part of New Brunswick history for nearly 140 years.

From scarily giant turkeys, to furs and fancy hats, to delicious desserts and dashing French butchers, here are some notable Thanksgiving images from holiday past. 

1. Filling & thrilling

(Saint John Free Public Library)

Mini-Puritans kneel before their gigantic turkey overlord in this Oct. 9, 1963 ad for Save-Easy.

"A meal so important isn't to be taken lightly," reads the caption. "When you glide down the wide aisles at Save-Easy you'll find everything you need — and capture a few new ideas, too!"

It's a good thing the aisles are wide, given the size of that "filling, thrilling" Thanksgiving feast. 

2. Walking the turkey

(New Brunswick Museum / Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick)

What am I doing this weekend?

Oh, just out in my fancy bonnet, shepherding a child-sized turkey through the pumpkin field.

Normal Thanksgiving stuff. 

3. Volvorama

(Saint John Free Public Library)

Drool over the prices in this supermarket advert from the Oct. 9, 1963 Daily Gleaner: 43 cents a pound for turkey! 69 cent bacon! Eight 28 oz. bottles of ginger ale for a buck!

But the most compelling reason to shop at Sobeys in the 1960s?

Volvorama. Obviously. 

4. Nobby furs

(Saint John Free Public Library)

Fun fact: Canada only designated the second Monday in October as the official date for Thanksgiving in 1957. Prior to that, the holiday varied by year, sometimes being held on the third Monday in October and sometimes in November. 

In 1907, when this ad for Anderson & Co. on Charlotte Street in Saint John appeared in the Daily Sun, Thanksgiving was Oct. 31 — Halloween-giving, if you will.

The day before the holiday, the paper advertised the furrier's "nobby up-to-date line of the latest style in Furs" — "nobby," in the case, being 19th-century slang for "of strikingly exquisite appearance."

5. Sacred bounty

(New Brunswick Museum / Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick 1989.107.22)

The altar loaded with flowers, gourds, flags, and other goodies during a Thanksgiving Day service at Exmouth Street United Church in Saint John sometime between 1940 and 1960.

Exmouth Street United Church — first built as a Methodist church in 1848 — still exists in the Waterloo Village neighbourhood of Saint John as the Phoenix Dinner Theatre. 

6. The aim of every woman's heart

(Saint John Free Public Library)

What do women want?

Good linen, apparently — and not much else, according to this 1907 ad for Thanksgiving linens in the Daily Sun

7. Dashing Pierre

(Saint John Free Public Library)

Shoppers at Steinberg's —a family-owned Canadian grocery chain — must have really loved  Pierre.

And who wouldn't? Just look at that face.

This Oct. 9, 1963 ad in the Daily Gleaner advertises the dashing French butcher's expertise in all things turkey and ham.

8. The Royal treatment

(New Brunswick Museum / Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick)

A turkey and a pious message on a Thanksgiving card from the Royal Hotel.

The hotel stood on the corner of King St. and Germain St. from 1881 until the 1970s, when it was demolished to build Brunswick Square

9. Stuffed ptarmigan (and other treats)

(New Brunswick Museum / Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick)

The Brunswick Square food court, which stands on the former site of the Royal Hotel, pales in comparison with the delicacies available to hotel diners on Thanksgiving in 1911. 

In addition to the stuffed ptarmigan, the Royal served up a dizzying array of meat-centric dishes from lamb cutlets to roast black duck— as well as "Saratoga chips," a fancy early moniker for the humble potato chip.  

10. Increased mining profits

(Saint John Free Public Library)

Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like "increased mining profits, better business conditions, and rising wheat prices" — as evidenced by this Oct. 24,1935 ad in the Telegraph-Journal geared toward the Canadian farmer.

11. Tea, coffee, or buttermilk?

(New Brunswick Museum / Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick)

Another decadent Thanksgiving menu from Clifton House in Saint John.

Clifton House was operated by Alexander Never Peters, a newspaper manager-turned-retail grocer-turned-hotel-proprietor, and his wife, social reformer and suffragette Mabel Phoebe Peters. 

The menu features a classic plate of turkey and cranberry sauce — but also more exotic fare like cream fritters with wine sauce, and roast loin of venison with spiced jelly.

For dessert: a nice glass of buttermilk.

12. Lookin' spruce

(Saint John Free Public Library)

"You've got to spruce up some for Thanksgiving Day—did you know?" according to this 1907 ad in the Daily Sun. "Why, of course, everybody looks their best on that day."

Tell that to all your relatives wearing camo hats and jackets at the dinner table. 

13. Time to relax

(Saint John Free Public Library)

A Thanksgiving card sent in New Brunswick around 1925 features a turkey looking every bit as chilled out as you will, hopefully, after enjoying the long weekend with family and friends. 


Julia Wright

Host, Information Morning Saint John

Julia Wright is a born-and-raised Saint Johner, reporter, photographer, and the host of Information Morning Saint John on 91.3FM. She has been with the CBC since 2016.