Food Day Canada will keep Anita Stewart’s legacy alive for years to come

20th anniversary of Food Day Canada will be celebrated this year on Aug. 5

OTTAWA – The Saturday of the August long weekend will officially be celebrated as Food Day Canada.

Bill S-227, known as the Food Day in Canada Act, passed its third and final reading in the House of Commons on May 8.

Late Elora resident Anita Stewart started Food Day Canada in 2003, in response to a mad cow disease scare.

The event, now in its 20th year, will be celebrated this year on Aug. 5.

Canadians are encouraged to buy, cook and eat food raised and grown in Canada.

The Saturday celebration has largely been a local one confined to Wellington County and other rural pockets of the country.

Canadian Senator Rob Black wanted to change that and, in 2021, he introduced the bill in the Red Chamber, with the Senate adopting it last year.

The bill was introduced in the House of Commons last spring by Perth-Wellington MP John Nater.

Speaking to the Commons on Monday, Nater said, “It is with great satisfaction that we finally reach the end of debate.”

The MP thanked Stewart’s family members, “who are making a strong legacy in their mother’s memory.”

Before the bill was unanimously adopted by lawmakers, Nater quoted Stewart: “We need to have at least one day when no living Canadian can ignore the fact that Canada has some of the finest ingredients and culinary talent – from researchers and producers to home cooks and … chefs – on the planet…

“Above and beyond all else, Canadian cuisine is about celebrating our magnificent differences, our roots and our ethnicity. It’s about possibilities, and how we as a people continue to welcome immigrants from all over. … It’s about branding ourselves Canadian and giving our producers an unmistakable edge that no other nation can emulate.”

Food Day Canada coordinator Crystal Mackay, Perth-Wellington MP John Nater, Senator Rob Black,  a daughter-in-law of Stewart’s, and one of Stewart’s sons, Jeff Stewart, at Parliament Hill. Submitted photo


In a joint statement from Anita’s sons Brad, Jeff, Paul and Mark Stewart, the siblings said their mother has united Canadians through food for more than half a century.

“We look forward to seeing an official Food Day in Canada living up to its potential as a positive, spirited, diverse celebration for all Canadians,” they stated.

“We sincerely believe that an official Food Day in Canada will offer significant cultural benefits to Canadians and their families, with economic benefits for communities and businesses, as we echo our mother’s mantra: ‘Canada is food and the world is richer for it.’”

In a press release, Senator Black expressed delight at the bill’s passing in time for Food Day Canada’s 20th anniversary.

“This event will give Canadians an opportunity to thank the farmers, who put food on our tables, every summer for years to come,” Black stated.

In addition to being a mother, Stewart was a self-described culinary activist who wrote on food and its history.

She authored 14 cookbooks, was awarded the Order of Canada and was appointed Food Laureate at the University of Guelph.

The University of Guelph Food Lab is named in her honour.

Stewart died in 2020, at the age of 73.