Homeless in Vancouver: Soupe aux pois brouillard
By the colour of the photo and the thickness of last night’s fog, I’d say someone opened up a can of Habitant pea soup on this Fairview neighbourhood. (Mmm!)
If you haven’t the foggiest idea what I’m referring to then you might not be Canadian. And if you are Canadian and you still don’t know then, well—no offense—but you might not be Canadian enough.
Habitant pea soup has been sold in big fat yellow cans all my life. It’s available outside Canada only in specialty food stores. Habitant (both the soup and the word) is French-Canadian, which means both that it comes from Quebec and they borrowed it from France over 400 years ago—and France never asked for it back.
Can’t get more Canadian than that.
A little history of “le bonne soupe” and a long-lived brand
The Campbell Soup company owns the Habitant brand now. They use the royal “we” when saying their Habitant brand goes back to 1918, but Campbell-Borden bought it from Catelli Foods back in 1989 for an estimated $225 million. This was a rare success for the red and white brand in Quebec, which historically played second-best, soup-wise, to Aylmer soups (now also owned by Americans).
Catelli Foods, a Montreal concern founded in 1867, acquired the Habitant brand in 1954 when it purchased the Dominion Preserving Co. Ltd.
Habitant soup was established in 1918, but the commercialized Habitant soup began in 1920 when Joseph Philias Morin started the Dominion Preserving Co. Ltd. in Montreal.
Here’s an eBay seller offering a very old labeled can of Habitant Pea Soup when it was made by Dominion.
Dominion’s long-time Habitant kitchen/factory located at Rue Saint-Dominique, between Liege and Guizot, is now a condo called Espace St. Dominique.