Canadian Barbecue is every bit as interesting and original as any BBQ in the world. Canadians know that, but generally, Americans feel that they have the best. The barbecue rival will unduly continue, but here is some background information of Canadian BBQ and why it should be included when discussing the best.
Barbecue got its start in Canada when indigenous people first brought forth foods from the rivers, plains, and forests. Roasting polar bear, frying beaver, boiling reindeer, charbroiling squirrel, grilling goose, and searing woodchuck became the way of life for early Canadians. From the surrounding oceans and rivers came roasted whale, clams, and oysters, as well as grilled trout, pike, and perch.
Early Canadians hunted for caribou, buffalo, porcupine, quail, grouse, deer, black and brown bear, caribou, cougar, wildcat, rabbit, and many more species. They fished the Maritimes for huge schools of cod, shallows full of lobster, and and huge crab pots. From the lakes, oceans and rivers came oyster, shrimp, lake trout, river eel, mussels, and salmon (including the salmon roe).
Throughout the years, as farming and ranching spread across the Canadian prairies, game for public consumption was replaced by farm buffalo, partridge, quail, grouse, Alberta beef, and an assortment of domesticated poultry. Canada is teaming with wildlife, and Canadians, to a man, take advantage of this with grilling and barbecue cooking.
Today, while the Canadian barbecue style looks somewhat authentic to the American barbecue style, Canadians will argue that the American style is very similar to their heads. This is because Canadians grill up quite a bit more game than Americans do. They also grill more vegetables, with carrots, cage, onions, squash, asparagus, zucchini, and various root vegetables like parsnips, turnips, and salsify. And because of the much smaller population, there is vastly more barbecue cooking opportunities per capita than the United States.
Canadian barbecuers have even recently organized into a large group of barbecue experts (Canadian Barbecue Association), and have begun to show very well in American and international barbecue competitions. Memphis in May, Jack Daniels, and the American Royal have all produced Canadian winners. Canadians even host large competition BBQ events in many of their own cities.
Canadian barbecue is really not that different as far as barbecue grilling technique goes, but the diversity of what they barbecue is the real difference. With a smaller population, as well as vast natural resources available, Canadians are definitely no lightweights when it comes to barbecue.