Sandwiches as well as such: The tale of Cragg’s Box Lunch
In the nick of time regional background collection
By Ian McKechnie February 23, 2023
Mary Cragg, cofounder of Cragg’s Box Lunch, 1958.
It’s a crisp February day in Lindsay greater than 70 years back. Train No. 93, Belleville-bound, waits in the Canadian National Train’s Durham Road lawns while guests maintain cozy in the nearby terminal. Throughout the method, at Cragg’s Box Lunch, the clock strikes noontime as 3 denim-clad guys walk via the front door as well as take their put on feceses by the lunch counter. They are experienced railroaders, every one of them, as well as have actually been regulars at Cragg’s since it opened up a couple of years back. Each of them orders a mini-meat pie as well as a mug of piping-hot coffee; among them asks Mrs. Cragg when she will certainly once again be making her well-known cake doughnuts.
As they consume, the railway guys speak amongst themselves regarding their cumulative want much better advantages as well as greater salaries. They concur that a strike is unavoidable. While stretched relationships in between monitoring as well as staff members on the CNR have actually left a negative preference in their mouths, Mary Cragg’s treats as well as home-cooked dishes have actually been absolutely nothing except mouth watering as well as are excitedly expected prior to each change. The CNR guys aren’t the just one that enjoy a dish at Cragg’s; taking a trip salespersons as well as people used by Lindsay’s public jobs division are additionally regular consumers.
Not long after the 2nd Globe Battle (possibly in 1946 or 1947), Earl as well as Mary Cragg acquired a little shop on the northeast edge of Durham as well as William Streets from Mr. Noel Rivers for $7,000 as well as restored it upstairs as well as down. Therefore, was birthed Cragg’s Box Lunch, which for over a quarter of a century after that expanded to turn into one of Lindsay’s cooking organizations.
Birthed in Cambray in 1904, Earl Cragg had a history in retail as well as feared to return right into that type of work after investing the battle years in Toronto. Mary, 7 years more youthful, initially came from Glenarm. While Earl ran a little supermarket on the facilities, Mary imagined running an event catering service as well as lunch counter. The structure opposite the train terminal provided room for both, as well as service flourished via the 1950s as well as 1960s. (The restaurant’s closeness to the CNR building was arbitrary, as well as Earl Cragg had an agreement with the train that had him offering food to emergency situation job train teams when they were called out on an unforeseeable timetable.).
Cragg’s provided a selection of food solutions. Finest kept in mind by railroaders like Ernie Rainbow, Wes Swinson, as well as Harvey Wallace, that often visited the dining establishment, was the lunch counter. Along with the previously mentioned cake doughnuts as well as meat pies, the lunch counter additionally provided a touch of sandwiches, pies, tarts, as well as milkshake or smoothies. “Each sandwich was reduced angled, piled, as well as covered in wax paper, packaged each early morning as well as kept in the colder, all set available,” remembers John Cragg, that as a young person assisted his moms and dads with a wide variety of jobs.
Amongst those jobs was managing the range of take-out choices provided by Mary Cragg. Because of room constraints as well as local licensing policies, there was restricted seating readily available inside Cragg’s Box Lunch, that made take-out a rewarding component of business– as well as something much valued by starving customers travelling through community by train. “I typically took a huge wicker basket loaded with food things to the terminal as well as went through the auto offering it– mainly the noontime hr trains, however frequently the suppertime arrivals too,” Cragg bears in mind.
In addition to the take-out as well as internal offerings, Cragg’s was well-known for its food catering. John Cragg remembers his mommy offering a roast beef dinner at the Victoria Park Arsenal for as much as 600 participants of the Lindsay Kiwanis Club, as well as box lunches to some 200 Ministry of Lands & Woodlands workers set up at the rural federal government structure on Kent Road West. According to Cragg, these contained 2 sandwiches, an item of pie, an apple or orange, as well as a little paper mug of coleslaw or pickles– all compacted with plastic tools as well as a paper napkin in a cardboard container a little smaller sized than a footwear box. Various other providing agreements included offering lunch or dinner to regional political leaders as well as execs standing for significant Lindsay-area commercial issues.
Whether a reception suitable for a king or something smaller sized as well as much more intimate in Premier Leslie Frost’s dining-room, all providing tasks included a lot of logistical preparation. “Every little thing was prepared in the shop’s tiny cooking area, after that carried in our Pontiac terminal wagon, established, offered, tidied up, refilled in the cars and truck, as well as went back to the shop for cleaning– which was normally my task,” claims John Cragg.
Jean Eco-friendly, Mary Cragg’s niece, keeps in mind that the food catering prep work were significantly an all hands-on-deck event. “My task would certainly be buttering bread as well as passing it on possibly Father or my sibling to include the dental filling,” she claims. “I have to include that, also when planning for a huge occasion, the sandwiches required for the boxed lunches or over-the-counter sales additionally needed to be prepared.”.
Cragg’s Box Lunch enclosed 1971, a year after Earl Cragg passed away of a cardiovascular disease. His widow, Mary, at some point retired to Edmonton as well as passed away there in 2001. The structure when inhabited by Cragg’s later came to be residence to the much-loved Durham coffee shop, continuing a fabled custom of supplying food as well as fellowship to citizens as well as site visitors alike.