Daily Life of Soldiers and Officers



In North America daily rations for the British soldier usually consisted of one pound (489 g) of bread or flour and one pound of beef or a half pound (244 g) of salt pork, with a little butter and cheese. This represents between 2,600 and 3,200 calories, enough food for moderate effort. To vary the menu, soldiers added "groceries" like tea, coffee, sugar and vegetables, at their own expense. In Canada, particularly outside the major cities, some were able to benefit from the rich land and took up gardening or fishing to augment their fare. Each man was also entitled to a beer ration. It is therefore impossible to estimate the nutritive value of the food consumed by British soldiers in Canada, but they generally appear to have been relatively well fed. Women whose marriages were officially recognized, and whose children were under 14 years of age, were entitled to a half ration.

The manner in which the food was prepared was not exactly haute cuisine. Until the 1860s, virtually the only way of cooking was to boil food in large pots in the rooms or in the barrack kitchen. It was therefore a monotonous succession of soups and boiled stews. Tea and coffee were prepared in the same pot. There were only two meals a day, at 7:30 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m.; in principle, then, the barracks residents did not eat for 19 hours straight.