With world war II starting in 1939 and lasting until September of 1945, food for Canadians was rationed and families didn’t get much since most of the food was being sent overseas to the soldiers at this time. In this episode, the Campus family experiences what it was like back home during the 40’s, where Canadians got only very little portions of food at a time and had no electronic appliances as we have now. Up until the fridge was invented, and became a staple in Canadian homes for food storage, families used an icebox to keep their food in.
Housewives during this time had to learn to work with the organs of an animal since all the good, normal cuts of meat were being shipped to supply the soldiers with nutrition. With the Campuses being back in the 40’s -and having strict gender roles – the mother (Tristan) is expected to handle all the work around the house which usually took an average of 85 hours per week for a housewife in the 40’s. The daughters were also expected to help out with the workload once school was done, rather than spending the night on their phones like they would in 2019.
To pass the time, women of all ages picked up knitting. Once 1943 came, the government wanted Canadians to eat and be healthy, so they came up with the ‘food rules’ which eventually became the ‘Canadian Food Guide.’ The women saved the bones and fats from the meat for later use, and families started to grow what they called ‘victory gardens’ so that they could grow and supply their family with their own vegetables. Once the war was over, Canadians began to celebrate by eating better foods, since there was no more need for rationing.
The 1950’s was the decade after the war and was the time of the baby boom. The wives – and mother – of the family, was expected to keep a perfect, clean and immaculate house. The focus at this time was perfection, the table was set to perfection and dinner was to be set and ready to eat for when the father came home from work. Wives, just like the house, were expected to always look their best, which meant pearls on, makeup done, and salon-fresh hair. All while the daughters were preparing to become housewives in the future and the men were working and not doing any of the domestic duties.
The children during the 50’s were treated as if they were junior partners in the household, and were not disciplined harshly as to prevent them from any future trauma. Since this was during the time of the Cold War, the men of the house were turning their homes basements in to fallout shelters, so that they would be safe in the event of a Soviet attack. Children in schools were practicing duck and cover drills as well. This was also the time of the baby boom, which meant that there were more foods and food advertisements directed towards children, and sugar quickly became a staple in the kitchen. Cake mixes, which made it easy for housewives to always have a cake in case of a company, also became a staple, along with gelatin that could be made from a box and was a go-to in recipes.
A ‘looser’ attitude about how to dress, eat, and life became a thing for families in the 60’s. The women of the house started to question the strict gender roles and began to want more for themselves and their daughters. They began to attend ‘consciousness-raising’ sessions in-home, where they would discuss their lives and the rising women’s liberation movement. Indigenous peoples in this time also began to demonstrate from rights they had been denied for so long.
After the 50’s, where teenagers had developed their own subculture, that had become a counterculture. The young people of the 60’s started to question authority, including that of their parents. Young Canadians rebelled and in turn cultivated their own style – army surplus jackets, tattered jeans, shawls, long hair on the men, and pants for the women. Teens and people in their 20’s also began to experiment with drugs at this time too. In the kitchen, french cooking became popular, and Julia Child was a popular chef.
Italian food became popular as well because of the boom in Italian immigration in Canada after the second world war. Since this was the time of the first moon landing, the space age influence was felt not only in clothing style and design, but in the kitchen too. The non-stick pan was invented, which became a staple over the heavy cast-iron skillets. Instant foods became popular as well, and families celebrated Canada’s 100th birthday.
The 1970’s had a rocky start because of the October Crisis of 1970. When tanks had rolled down Montreal streets and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had invoked the War Measures act after a cabinet minister and British diplomat was kidnapped by Quebec separatists. Young baby boomers are beginning to look for jobs, but are having a hard time finding them due to the decades of economic growth. Increasing numbers of families are spending half of their incomes on housing.
The second wave feminism, the first being seen in the 60’s, became a force of the 70’s. A 488-page report was released in 1970 by the Royal Commission on the Status of Women that gave women more rights and states that housewives are only to do an average of 77 hours a week of unpaid labour. Now that middle-class women were going back to work so that the families can make ends meet, children came home to empty houses, which meant that the mothers had to have easy to prepare snacks on hand for the kids and teens. Men also started to help with the housework, although women still did most of it and is still in charge of the kitchen.
In the kitchen, the health food boom was beginning to hit Canada. Natural, chemical-and-additive-free foods became popular, and the idea was that they would help to heal the body and keep families from getting sick. Canadians also became interested in Indian food, thanks to the Beatles’ trip to India in 1968. An electronic development of the 70’s that is still used to this day is the dishwasher.
In the 80’s, the home decor style became very ‘sleek’ and lots of patterns were in. For teens, the punk look was popular, and friendship pins became a trend as well. Clothing in the 80’s was all about ‘big and bold flavours’. The health and fitness ‘mania’ grew and families started to work out together, the women doing aerobics while the men were ‘pumping iron’. Power shakes were a big thing for body builders and people who would be considered ‘fit’ and spandex became popular.
Bob Ross became a popular thing to watch on the tv. Families in the 80’s played a lot of board games to pass the time, and trivial pursuit – which was invented in Montreal – became one of the top selling games. The 80’s also saw a rise in electronic video game consoles in homes. Although the women still did majority of the housework, the men did the cooking, which meant that the women had more down-time.
Handheld vacuums were a go-to cleanup gadget for families in the 80’s. In the kitchen, the flavours of foods started to expand. Fruits were added to salads, and japanese food trends spread to North America. Once the microwave was invented, families were encouraged to cook full microwave meals. A food trend was for families to go meatless for one night a week, and home delivered foods started to become a popular thing as well. Couples took cooking classes together, and young single men started to see the appeal in a man who knows how to cook.
Now, in the 90’s, the internet has been invented and Canada was at the start of our gourmet coffee obsession. All-you-can-eat-buffets became popular at this time. Canada has entered another recession, but this time, it took a while to recover from this one. The 24-hour news cycle, CBC Newsworld had entered homes and went on air in 1989, and in the 90’s, Canada was still getting used to it. Taco kits and new varieties of soda hit the shelves, and the soft drink consumption in Canada had hit a peak in 1995. Bottled water became a hot trend, due to Canadians starting to not trust the water from their taps because of stories of groundwater contamination and acid rain.
“Ethnic foods” became popular, and the sales of Chinese, south Asian, and middle eastern foods in grocery stores rose 12% between 1992 and 1993. Entertaining guests at home got fancier at this time as well. The youth culture at this time was very rebellious, and the ‘grungers and ravers’ began to rebel against consumerism and the materialism of the 80’s. The ‘riot grrrls’ were rebelling against the gender roles and societal expectations of women, and environmentalism is on trend. The women were still doing the most of the housework and child-rearing, and when joining the men in the workforce, were getting paid less for the same work as the men.