CPR Salad Dressing

iceberg lettuce

Recipe Notes (Alexia Moyer)

Iceberg lettuce. Do you feel as though it has been forgotten of late . . . left to languish in the shade of assertive arugula and masterful mâche? When next you see its pert ruffles and verdant complexion, take it home and offer it something red to wear: CPR Salad Dressing.


salad and dressing

This is the Canadian Pacific Railway’s (once) secret recipe, courtesy of Nicole Parton who offers us – apart from the opportunity to use ketchup for something other than an accompaniment to scrambled eggs – a reminder of the CPR’s role in marketing, standardizing and disseminating Canadian foodways. As Pierre Berton writes in The Centennial Food Guide, “It is perhaps not too much to say that, if there is a distinctive style of Canadian cuisine it is . . . not too surprising that, in an artificial nation bound together by bands of steel, it should spread directly from our dining cars” (41). After all, this food travels. And traces of past moveable feasts remain in the form of menus and recipes such as these.

lemon and onion peel

sugar and paprika


Nicole Parton’s recipe hails from yet another literary cookbook. Produced as a fundraiser for the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts in 1994, The Great Canadian Literary Cookbook contains recipes submitted by Canadian writers. Once you’ve made your CPR salad dressing, you’ll want to sample Robert Kroetch’s avgolemono soup, Carol Shields’ pasta dish and Lorna Crozier’s ginger snaps.


I chose this recipe for its all-too-familiar taste, for its literary provenance, and because this railway recipe so aptly announces our upcoming (virtual) trip. Over the next little while, we’ll be visiting Canada’s capital cities, testing and tasting their literary fare. Tune in to The Canadian Literary Fare blog to test your knowledge and then come to Tableaux for a taste.


From Nicole Parton in The Great Canadian Literary Cookbook


  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp dried minced onion or 2 tbsp fresh onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


Zap in a blender and serve. This lasts a couple of months in the fridge, in a covered container.



Berton, Pierre and Janet Perton. The Centennial Food Guide: A Century of Good Eating. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1966. p.41. Print.

Parton, Nicole. “CPR Salad Dressing.” The Great Canadian Literary Cookbook. Eds. Gwendolyn Southin & Betty Keller. Sechelt: The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, 1994. p. 165. Print.

Photo Credit: Alexia Moyer

3 thoughts on “CPR Salad Dressing

  1. Hi I am trying to find a recipe which my Dad used to make us on week ends (he passed away last year) for scrambled eggs by Pierre Berton which had eggs, chopped onion, bacon, green peppers, apple, white wine and…. I can’t recall what else. Are you able to help me please? Thank you in advance.

    Kind regards,


    • Thank you for your email, Carmella. I will check with Alexia and see if she has Pierre Berton’s scrambled egg recipe! It sounds delicious!



    • Dear Carmella,

      It took a bit of searching but I think I’ve found what you’re looking for: “Pierre’s Scrambled Eggs” from The Centennial Food Guide: A Century of Good Eating by Pierre and Janet Berton, published 1966.
      Here is the list of Ingredients:
      1 large green pepper
      2 onions
      1 lb sliced bacon
      1/2 lb butter (though this seems like a lot)
      1 tbsp curry powder
      1 apple
      2 tomatoes
      1 tsp. black pepper
      1 tsp. oregano
      1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
      2 tsps monosodium glutamate
      a dash of tobasco sauce
      salt to taste
      1/2 cup dry white wine
      1 dozen eggs
      1 tbsp dry mustard (added to the eggs)
      2 cups milk (added to the eggs)

      Let us know how it turns out.



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