Killaloe and the BeaverTail
East of Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario there is a road sign with at least two strange names and one odd claim-to-fame on it … Village of Killaloe – Birthplace of BeaverTails. We can’t resist a good Canadian place name so we turned off Highway 60 to get the story.
In the early 19th century the lure of free land and the vision of a new life brought Irishmen, Germans and Poles from Europe and French Canadians from the east to this very rugged region of rocks and forests. It was a hard place to start over but logging and subsistence farming kept the settlers alive through terrible winters.
Along the banks of Brennan’s Creek, when beaver tails meant something very different, mills were built so that water power could grind wheat into flour and saw logs into lumber. The settlement was named after Killaloe, County Clare in Ireland. (pronounced “Kill A Loo”). At the height of the lumber industry in Ontario, the opening of the Ottawa-Arnprior & Parry Sound Railroad in 1894 turned Killaloe into a busy receiving and shipping centre.
In the early 1970s, the community welcomed another wave of settlers to the hills around Killaloe – the Hippies. The Hooker family was part of this new generation of disenchanted individualism and in 1973 they settled on their newly-purchased 90 acre woodlot. Grant and Pam Hooker helped organize the first Killaloe Craft & Community Fair, a three-day gathering of music, crafts and theatre. It was at this fair in 1978 that they first started serving old Grandma’s family recipe treat – the cinnamon and sugar pastry that we now know as BeaverTails.
Today BeaverTails Inc. is a going concern with over 100 outlets across Canada and the BeaverTail has become part of the Canadian food lexicon along with butter tarts, poutine and, of course, Timbits.
This article was first published in Roadstories. Roadstories is a blog about Canada. It’s about the People, Places and Things that make Canada a great country to live, work and travel in. The blog is maintained by Glenn Cameron and Judy Hammond (aka Canada’s Boomergirl), with contributions and guest posts by a handful of fellow Canada-lovers.