Tag Archives: food trucks

Fight Over the “Restaurant on Wheels” 1899 — The First Food Truck Fight

Fight Over the “Restaurant on Wheels” 1899 — The First Food Truck Fight


13920768_1145327608899795_5025737435801496596_n.jpgRideau and Sussex in the summer of 1909, featuring several cabs and wagons, and an Ottawa Electric Railway streetcar heading for Sparks Street. The wall on the right was to prevent you from walking or driving off the road into the vast empty space between the Dufferin and Sapper’s Bridges (and into the canal below).(PA-009483) Lost Ottawa


The first food trucks were lunch wagons and pushcarts that were very popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s because of the nocturnal hours diners kept. In February of 1899 a little restaurant on wheels was open for business on Senator Clemow’s vacant lot on Rideau Street near Sapper Bridge.  Francis Clemow (May 4, 1821 – May 28, 1902) was a merchant and political figure and sat for the Rideau division in the Senate of Canada from 1885 to 1902. No one knew that this restaurant on wheels was bound to create more stir than any concern should in the ordinary run of things.




The Palace Car Company, who existed somewhere in the United States,  asked the city for permission to have a restaurant car stand on the Ottawa public streets during the night hours. The City of Ottawa did not grant the request and the next thing the city knew the car was up and doing business without the city’s permission. The business man had rented ground room on Mr. Clemow’s vacant lot and had snapped his fingers in retaliation at the city.

Of course the city of Ottawa was not going to take that lying down. They were most certainly going to contest it and they also had to reckon with their angry tax-paying restaurant neighbours. Similar to today the restaurateurs considered the American running the car stand was hurting their trade, so they began a petition to give to the city council requesting that the nuisance be removed.

The petition was presented to the committee and nearly all the merchants on Rideau Street as far down as Nicholas  street had signed it. The American was also prepared and he too had a petition signed by a large number of customers who had eaten sandwiches at his car during the midnight hours.  The Ottawa Journal reported that both petitions were formidable.

While “the stranger” spoke fluently on how the benefits of the car was to the locals who are out late at night, or very early in the morning. He also mentioned that he would like to have a license to have his car stand legally on the street between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. and would be willing to pay a fair amount for the privilege. He repeated that he was not competing seriously with the restaurateurs by selling only sandwiches and coffee.

“How much do you take in per day?” asked Alderman Morris.

“About six or seven dollars a night,”  the businessman said.

What was he paying Senator Clemow for the privilege to use the lot, and what space did he occupy they asked? The car man said he paid the senator $30 per month and used a space of about 8 feet by 16 feet.

In the end the city insisted that keeping a cart like that open all night would encourage immorality in the area. In a city of the size of Ottawa there should be no reason for anyone young or old to be out all night retorted Alderman Roger. Roger also thought this vendor should be treated like a transient and make him pay a $250 for a license. It was doubted that they could charge him that amount and nothing else was reported in the newspaper.

One has to wonder how far we have come in 119 years?  Have things changed?




Jaan Kolk added: Thomas Lindsay’s department store (later known as the Daly building) was constructed on Clemow Estate property which Lindsay subsequently purchased in 1906. From the Journal, July 20, 1906:



and he added:)

There is more, Linda. The meeting reported in the Journal Feb. 17, 1899 concluded with the matter left in the hands of City Solicitor McVeity, who had some doubt as to whether the business would fall under the Transient Traders’ Bylaw. Here is a clip from the Journal, Feb. 23., 1899. The following day the Journal reported that the Palace Cafe Co. would be given an ordinary restaurant license in accordance with the City Solicitors’ advice.

What the Truck? Do the Food Trucks Hurt Local Restaurants?


Today one of my readers asked the following:
Do you think that the crazy amount of food trucks we have here this summer has maybe affected the local restaurants? Maybe the town should look at how many food truck licenses they are handing out each summer? What do you think?

Food trucks are part of summer, and no matter how hard you argue they offer a different service.  Of course a food truck can cost a fraction of what a brick and mortar place costs. But, they also have overhead costs. Try and comply with  a Health Unit inspection in 100 square feet. Then there are the generators, permits, appliances, fridges etc and not many cheap and easy ways to handle and prep food. Of course, it’s a lot easier to make a living selling nothing but fries when you don’t have to cover the overhead of a building first.

Most of the food trucks have a steady traffic for lunch, which puts them at odds with the restaurants because they feel it drains away the lunch crowd. Some restaurant owners, on the other hand, are split. A few are defensive and annoyed by the incursion of food trucks into “their markets,” but just as many appeared to be really interested in the trucks as the advent of another food revolution. Some are even actively pursuing the concept themselves – thinking of a food truck as either an option to expand their existing brand and customer base or even a next step after the restaurant for him.

Maybe this is a moot point, but in Carleton Place this particular issue is real. Have you ever thought how much more handicap accessible food trucks are than restaurants? This is versus fighting doors on so called “accessible” restaurants, with tables that do not work for a chair, aisles that are often too small, and wait staff that do not understand that handicapped people don’t move as fast as they do. How many handicapped accessible places do you have on Bridge Street? Think about it. Because the buildings are older they don’t fall into the same laws as newer buildings. Is that a reason to ignore it?

No matter what business you open there is going to be competition. Unfortunately it’s a crucial aspect of capitalism, and it forces other businesses to either step up their game and compete, or be rendered into obsolescence by consumers.

This year there are three chip trucks missing in town. One on Lake Ave East, one in front of Giant Tiger, and one on Townline. There presently are 4 in town, and correct me if I am wrong, and three on the highway. I think parking your food truck directly outside a restaurant is rather rude, but we don’t have that issue in Carleton Place. The last food truck that was told to move was Mike Modowan on Bridge Street a zillion years ago. Did he ruin Bridge Street businesses? People need to understand that business is about taking risks and being dynamic and seizing opportunities.

The facts are that businesses exist. A new business comes along who does things differently and appears to be making money. The existing older business thinks to itself that maybe they should try it too, maybe try to up their game. Instead, and I was a guilty party when I had my business, they just complain about it. This scenario repeats itself in every field you can think of.

Businesses don’t need to protected, they need to be innovative. There needs to be more of an effort by the powers to be to attract people downtown so everyone can share in what we have. Any business who feels threatened by something should probably look at themselves first and think about why they feel that way. If your store stocks great and reasonably priced goods, your customers will not abandon you. If you’re a restaurant and you are scared of a food truck, step up your game and give your clients a reason to walk to your food business instead of the food truck.

Our issue downtown is three fold. Lack of innovation, vision and participation. We as the local consumer are also guilty and never take a moment to look around and see what a wonderful town we live in. Stop, and smell the roses. Try parking further than the next available spot, walk and look and enjoy for once. Maybe you’ll notice a few more things along the way. That would be a start.

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

What the Truck? The Glue of our National Identity is The Chip Truck


Ballygiblin chef Dusty Pettes said on Facebook today:


If the Kingston area is called the 1000 Islands Region I think The Carleton Place area should be called The 658 Chip Wagons Region.

In Ontario, chip trucks are everywhere, yet their place in culinary history is a mystery. Over 63% of a chip stand’s sales are french fries, and if you’re asking for the nutritional breakdown, you’re not their core customer. Did you know chip trucks were illegal in Montreal until 2013?


Montreal finally lifted its 65-year-old, prohibition-style ban on street food/chip trucks in 2013. The Montreal ban on food carts dates back to 1947, when the city banished its “chip” wagons on the grounds they spread litter, flouted traffic rules and unfairly competed with small businesses. Think of the job Creation and Additional Revenue it created in Quebec:

1. 400 new jobs for street vendors
2. 400 new licenses for street vendors
3. 400 new licenses for the push carts
3. A new Quebec government department: Office de la push carte de snack
5. 6 new companies to create “Le push cartes”
6 6. people to investigate how certain “push carte” vendors got the choice spots in Montreal after paying their extra 3%

What is our fascination with chip wagons and those sizzling golden crispy morsels that enfold the fluffy potato inside? Is it be lingering insatiability our Irish ancestors endured during the potato famine? Or perhaps, as Collingwood writer Ian Chadwick thinks, they are what gels our sense of Canadian nationhood.
“There is one single, unifying element that defines our Canadian culture in absolute terms,” writes Chadwick, “a skein that runs through the warp and weft of the Canadian psyche. It’s not our language, not our universal social programs. . . It’s not even the animosity we hold each other in — the bipolarization of English versus French, east versus west, everyone versus Ontario. No, — it’s the chip wagon.”

Chip trucks are “so ubiquitous, so familiar, that people just don’t see the historical aspects,” laments the Canadian culinary history expert. Honestly there has got to be some probably cultural funding for this somewhere.


The pictures from Cravings Food Truck on Highway 7 where yet another Poutine was sampled. Sampling is all I can do now I swear. They have such a unique menu from Newfoundland Poutine, Schnitzel, Nordic Hot Dog, Vienna Burger, Gluten Free Fish Taco that it is worth a stop that’s for sure. Such nice people too! Someone had told me their Poutine Sauce had a kick to it. It’s actually reminiscent of the original french fry sauce I enjoyed as a teen in Quebec on my Patates Avec Sauce. It’s the real deal!

Cravings, 10451 Highway 7, Carleton Place K7C 0C4

Related reading:

In Memory of Mike Moldowan — The Man Behind the Fries

Flippin’ Sweet — School’s Out For The Summer at Law & Orders!

Treat Them Like Potato Kings — The Potato King

Buds Has the Spuds in Carleton Place!

Law & Orders — A Little Slice of Heaven on The Side of the Road

Where Can You Eat for $5 in Carleton Place on Victoria Day Weekend?

Update: Maryanne L. Oney has closed her chip truck and wishes to thank everyone who supported her. She said it was very hard to close it as I enjoyed it very much and the people who did show loved our food. Hugs to her.

From Kaladar to Carleton Place – The Spud Box is Open!

J. Peterman Foodie Thoughts about Food Trucks


San Francisco- Thursday, March 31st.

I stand on the metal stairs that slowly move towards the beckoning blue sky. I can smell the food from the gourmet food truck vendors from Off the Grid. They gather at the Civic Centre every Thursday to become an extravaganza of food or an all out hipster pig fest whichever one chooses.

“Oh for the love of God man tell me what they are cooking!”- Deconstructed J. Peterman


                                   Curbside Coffee

I smell coffee filling the air making me want to sip it slowly so I might possibly go back to the office, hunker down and work. They hand me a warm chocolate croissant and a steaming soup bowl of coffee. Luscious cups of hot Vietnamese coffee are sold only on Thursdays.

 “It will always be Burma to me Elaine.” – J Peterson.


Natalie from distant Rhode Island and Denise from not so far away San Jose have come for the Sweet Potatoe Tater Tots. Alas the Vietnamese truck has “tottered out” and they have succumbed instead to an Asian Asade from Kung Fu Tacos. Seasons strips of succulent steak garnished with tender green cilantro and carrots topped with and Asian spicy salsa.

Natalie is staying at a hostel now and maybe never go back to Rhode Island after this.  Now that she has discovered you can find food links on the internet the world is her oyster.

“Beware the seductive lure of the yam yam”- J Peterman


The Rib Whip

Jennifer and Kurt from the East Bay are chowing down on ribs from a pork spa that are dripping with BBQ sauce. Just the smell alone will never let them forget about this day.

Kurt spoke softly, or was it just whispers of wind in my ears?

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget those ribs–ahhh. And most of all, I will never, forget today. Just the two of us, and we surrendered to temptation. And it was pretty damn good!” –Deconstructed J Peterman



                      3 Sum Eats with Chef Ryan Scott

I smell the Deep fried Mac n Cheese egg rolls that are deconstructed (whatever that means) like little crazy chunks of love.  Rice Krispie Fried Chicken, Philly Cheese steak Dumplings and sandwiches the size of your fist make me wonder if Chef Ryan Scott is  really alive or just a master chef from times gone by.

“And if you’re undead I will find out about that too!”- J. Peterman


Kung Fu Tacos

The tacos are a tad smaller than usual but I wanted to savor every lingering bite. The veggies were tenderly marinated with onions and shitake mushrooms.  The chicken was scrumptious and the roast duck quacked its way into my heart.  Topped with a tangy curdling Asian salsa made you wonder if it was too good to be true!

“I fear my orgasm from food has left me unable to move Elaine” –   Deconstructed J. Peterson


        Oui Oui Macaron

Unfortunately I got there a little too late and some of the flavours were already gone. I managed to get a Red Velvet one to tease my taste buds. A soft crisp shell and moist chocolate chewy filling with tiny morsels of semi sweet chocolate on the shell.

Delicious unique flavors like: Salted Carmel and Almond Earl Grey Ganache lets me  dream of days of sitting by the sea sipping tea on a blanket with a Fabio look alike.

“Do you know Elaine what happens to a butter-based frosting after six decades in a poorly ventilated English basement?”- J. Peterman


Off the Grid

Delightful, delicious yet definitely not a “hipster” function.

Sweet Judy!

I cannot detect one ounce of pretension in their eyes. This food congregation is hip with nothing but great music to soothe their souls. Huge lines and comforting food from all around the world without leaving the block  made these  iPad wonder childen and myself smile.

“Then, in the distance, I heard the trucks. I began running as fast as I could. Fortunately, I was wearing my Italian cap toe oxfords. Sophisticated yet different; nothing to make a huge fuss about. Rich dark brown calfskin leather. Matching leather vent. Men’s whole and half sizes 7 through 13. Price: $135.00.

The food from Off the Grid? Priceless!”- J. Peterson deconstructed.


Text and Images: Linda Seccaspina 2011

“Creative” Quotes by J. Peterman from Seinfeld

Off The Grid on Facebook