Raise a glass to the past!On August 19, 2020 by Jeremy Jagusch
Recently I wrote about traditional foods that characters from our past shows may have eaten. Well if one eats one must also drink right? So this week I thought it would be fun to continue with that theme and do a top five list of traditional drinks that may have been enjoyed in some of our venues by the characters in our shows. As always with any of our lists, the order the items appear in is randomised.
Let’s start off with….
Adelaide, Australia – Wimmers Lemon Lime & Bitters
We were lucky enough to perform our sought after show “Circa” that we did at the beautiful Adelaide Botantical Gardens(https://www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/home) a few years ago. In this particular show we told the story of Edith Osborn who in 1915 became the first female board member of the Botanical gardens. Having all that responsibility on her plate I have no doubt she got very thirst at times. It’s possible she would occasionally reach for a Wimmers Lemon Lime & Bitters Soft Drink. Wimmers was founded in Australia in 1910 by a father and son duo Alfred and Frank Wimmer. They became the first company in Australia to successfully combine Lemon, Lime, and Bitters in a bottle. I’d be willing to try some of that! Next we move on to
HMCS Haida – Rum
We’ve written a blog about the HMS Haida which you can find here, so I won’t go into too much history here. As a base, the Tribal Class Destroyer was built and launched out of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in North East England on August 25th, 1942(Happy Early Birthday Haida!) and was commissioned into The Royal Canadian Navy about a year later. During her time she became known as “The Fightingest ship in the Royal Canadian Navy”. She has since been decommissioned and is now a museum in Hamilton, Ontario.
For our show that we did there, “Robin’s Redemption” the year was 1950. I wanted to take a step back and look at her early years for this entry. Obviously what could be drunk on board was limited…not only by regulations but space as well (Writers note, I’ve been there it’s an amazing but very cramped space. Please take it seriously when I say watch your head! I’m one of two crew members who uh…got to know the ship very closely). However, we believe that we know at least one thing they would have drank on board. There is the old cliche about Sailors and Rum. Ever since the founding of the Royal Canadian Navy in 1910 an old British Military tradition was carried over: “The Daily Tot” (which was a daily allowance of rum, was given at 6 bells.) For more information we encourage you to check out the link here . The tradition continued on Canadian Vessels until 1972 but was revived as a special occasion to mark the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Navy in 2010,
Creston, British Columbia, Canada – Sasparilla
Ever since seeing the movie, The Big Lebowski (this writer highly recommends it, partly because it takes place during an interesting time in history), I had been curious about Sasparilla. If you aren’t familiar with it, Sasparilla is a soft drink made from the plant of the same name. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Sasparlia was one of the first bottle soft drinks in Canada in the 1800’s. The process of carbonated in Canada was started in the 1820’s. Having said all this, we were lucky enough to perform our In Time Unlimited Experience at the Creston Museum and Archives, in Creston British Columbia. This is where the first school house opened in Creston in 1889. Though it’s hard to say if the first teacher in the school, Miss Edith Dalby was a fan, we’re sure at least some in the area must have been fans of the beverage. Now I just have to figure out where I can get some.
London, England – Tea
It’s no secret to anyone that tea has been a staple of the British daily life since at least 1615. It was first mentioned in a letter form an agent at in the East India Trading Company. In the 1660’s it was an expensive and luxurious commodity. To that end we have no doubt that a character such as Sir Richard Ford (Lord Mayor of London in 1670 ) would have enjoyed such spender. At least occasionally. Sir Richard was one of the subjects of our performance of The Last Stand at London’s Charlton House. Tea is one of those staples of a diet that has gained almost culturally iconic standing that it is easy to forget even some of it’s long and detailed history. I wonder if Sir Richard would have taken one lump, or two.
Halifax, Nova Scotia – Ginger Ale
Now I know we’ve spoken of soft drinks a lot on this list. They themselves have a long and interesting history. But the reason we are closing on ginger ale is in large part because of the cultural identity wrapped up in a popular brand of it. By which I mean Canada Dry Ginger Ale. “Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale” was created in Toronto, Ontario in 1904 by John J. McLaughlin. During prohibition the drink gained a lot of popularity. The reason I’m particularity interested though is in regards to new comers. This is in reference to a show Live History did at a venue in Halifax, Nova Scotia called Pier 21. In short from 1928 to 1972, this immigration hub was the first stop for 1.5 million new Canadians. During that time I have no doubt that many of the staff drank Canada Dry Ginger Ale. I have even less doubt that many new Canadians were introduced to their new favourite drink during that time. Just as Coke Cola is synonymous with the United States, Canada Dry has been a part of Canadian lives for quite some time.
Thank you for reading and feel free to raise a glass of whatever your drinking to all those who came before us. We’ll see you in the past.