History was on hand this past Saturday as the birth of the butter tart was celebrated at the historic Central United Church.
The event was put on by the Barrie Historical Archive as a way to say goodbye to the 61-year-old downtown church which will be closing its doors on June 4. It was also a way to celebrate the recipe by Mrs. Mary MacLeod of the Royal Victoria ladies auxiliary that turned into the famed Canadian sweet treat. Billy Courtice is a volunteer for the BHA and believes that despite the possible mixture of how the butter tart was created, it’s most certainly a Barrie treat.
“It’s a great way to celebrate something that was created right next door at the old RVH auxiliary,” said Courtice. “In earnest, it was likely a pecan pie mixture with some French and Scottish touches that came about to give us this treat. But when looking through the auxiliary’s cookbook from the year 1900 its there and is the earliest publication. Its quite an honour for the city to have.”
Close to 100 people were on hand Saturday to take in a lunch that included an original chicken salad sandwich recipe from the early 1900s. A presentation at the end of the day also filled people on the church’s closing and what the BHA does in the community. Colin MacDonald is the Pastor of the church and was there with suit and top hat on in a host role and said he was very happy with the turnout for the event for everyone especially the people of the church that has been in Barrie since 1865 and in the current location since 1957.
“We’d like to go out with a bang and not a whimper,” said MacDonald. “Bringing this event here was wonderful for us as of course the butter tart is the quintessential Canadian treat and we are happy to have been located right next door to its birthplace. Our church came out in droves to help, all you have to do is go down to the kitchen to see that.”
Many people from the community came out to make the event the success it was; ROCK 95 and 107.5 KOOL FM were among the judges as was local councillor of the downtown area Rose Romita. Also on hand was The One Group real estate agency who are one of the main sponsors for the BHA events. Scott Cooper from The One Group says that its not just the BHA that he and his team support, but they really care about Barrie and the stories that make it.
“We’re here serving out free coffee to go with the butter tarts,” said Cooper. “This is such a really cool event and we like being here with our fellow Barrie folks celebrating days like this. We are very passionate about the buildings here too which is likely why we gravitated to the BHA; there is just so much history in our neighbourhoods and structures that once you start learning more about it you get hooked.”
The event was still all about the butter tart and there were voting ballots for judges and everyone in attendance to mark their favourite. The winner of the event was Janice Coutts but with so many selections the real winners were those who got to taste the treats. It’s unlikely that Mrs. Mary MacLeod would have ever thought her creation would get this iconic.