Sanagan’s currently carries pork from three Southern Ontario family farms. Like all Sanagan’s suppliers, our pork farmers value small scale, humane animal husbandry. The pigs are processed at low volume facilities located near the farms. By contrast the abattoirs that inspired the name Hogtown were anything but small scale. So, while Sanagan’s embraces a different approach to the life and death of the pig, we’re proud to be selling great pork in Hogtown and thought you might be interested to know how the name came to be.
Sanagan’s heritage pork raised on Murray’s Farm
If the name Hogtown can be attributed to one person, it would be William Davies whose ascent from a single St. Lawrence Market stall in the 1850’s to the establishment of Canada Packers (now Maple Leaf Foods) firmly implanted the pig’s footprint on Toronto’s identity. Along the way the William Davies Corporation became the largest supplier of bacon to England, shipping out of North America’s second largest pork processing plant, located in the Don Valley at Front Street. Davies is credited with popularizing peameal bacon, making him the Godfather of Toronto’s signature sandwich. Eventually the animal world tired of Mr. Davies attentions. He died as a result of injuries suffered after being butted by a goat.
It’s not difficult to witness a herd mentality at Keele and St. Clair as shoppers descend upon Home Depot and Canadian Tire, but this area used to support actual herds of cattle, pork, and horses. The Stockyards, a 300-acre network of rail sidings, loading platforms, stock pens, and processors, including Maple Leaf and Swifts, was once North America’s largest livestock facility. The fortunes of the Stockyards rose and fell with the railroad. By the time trucking eclipsed rail as the most efficient form of livestock transport, and combined with the pressures of Toronto’s ravenous real estate market, the demise of the Stockyards was inevitable. The majority of processors moved from Toronto to Cookstown in 1994 but not after doing its share to consolidate our nickname as Hogtown.
Up until its closure in 2014, for many Torontonians the name Hogtown was embodied by Quality Meat Packers on Tecumseth Street near Fort York. Even if you never saw the abattoir there’s a good chance you saw the trucks, loaded with pigs, driving towards it. I remember working at Fort York in my early 20’s. You either got the industrial beer smell of the Molson’s brewery or the raunchy not quite bacon smell of Quality Meats. Grimly, it felt historically accurate. There had been a packing plant on the site since 1914 in the form of the Toronto Municipal Slaughterhouse. This facility was bought in 1960 by Quality Meats. At its height, Quality processed one third of Ontario’s pork. While it defied animal rights protests and condo-mania it was eventually brought down by the cruel variables of the free market. The last straw was the piglet-killing virus of 2014. Thankfully for Sanagan’s, and the pigs, our small-scale pork farmers were unaffected by the outbreak.
The original site of Quality Meat Packers
Things change. The hogs have left Hogtown. Toronto’s de-industrialization has been rapid. But high quality, locally raised, family-farmed pork will never leave Sanagan’s and Sanagan’s, finger’s crossed, will never leave The Six.
Photos: Graham Duncan and Toronto Archives
Hunting season in Ontario generally lasts from mid-September to mid-December. As we roll into December at Sanagan’s, you won’t have to hunt for delicious offerings to fill any of your holiday needs.
One offering that may have eluded you in the past is our Hunter’s Pie. Chef Anne and her team in the kitchen have refined this recipe over the past few years to it’s near perfect current iteration. Rich venison, elk and wild boar are slowly simmered with red wine and paired with hearty lentils and aromatics inside a buttery, flaky crust, topped with a true trophy in the form of a piece of bone marrow.
Our Hunter’s Pie is the very definition of a special occasion dish. It is rich, and delicious, and one should likely fight the desire to enjoy it every day, reserving it for gatherings with friends and family. My suggestion would be to keep things simple, and serve this with a crisp green salad using a mix with bitter greens and a mustard vinaigrette.
We have a quiet Christmas planned this year, but our centrepiece on Christmas Eve will be one of Chef Anne’s delicious Hunter Pies. Happy hunting, and happy holidays!
Make Sanagan’s your holiday destination this year! We have everything you’ll need to create a successful feast for your family and friends, so join us at either location and get your harvest feast on!
To place your order, either call us at 416-593-9747, or email us at (Kensington) firstname.lastname@example.org, or (Gerrard) email@example.com.
We source our birds from two different farms; Shady Grove (Guelph, ON), and Elm Creek (Grand Valley, ON). If the former sounds familiar, that’s because it’s where we get our maple syrup from! Both farms adhere to our standards of antibiotic & hormone-free, and free-run meat. The turkeys come in a variety of weight ranges, and as much as we sincerely try to get everyone EXACTLY what they ask for, there is sometimes a variance (on the heavy end). For example, if you want a 16 lb bird, your order goes in the 16-18 lb range, and it’s possible that the birds dress out on the heavy end, so you might have to take a 18lber. But that’s ok, just more turkey sandwiches in your future!
As for Heritage Turkeys, we’ll be getting some in from The Packing House, one of our preferred suppliers who sources game birds, specialty beef, and other great items like these Orlopp Bronze birds from a farm near Meaford. These are beautiful, pasture-raised birds, and I can say from personal experience that they’re some of the tastiest turkeys around! These birds will be coming in between 15 and 20 lbs – we have a limited supply so get your orders in early!
As well as fresh turkeys, we will be getting in whole Smoked Turkeys from Metzger Meats.
Are you one of the few people who don’t like turkey? No worries, we have you covered!
Capons (usually range from about 8 to 10 lbs)
City Ham (smoked, bone-in hams) We get them whole, so we can cut them to size.
Baseball hams (small, boneless smoked hams, better for a small number of people)
Breakfast Sausage Stuffing (loose breakfast sausage mix to put in your stuffing)
As well as these “main event” items, Anne and her team in the kitchen will be making up some lovely sides to accompany everyone’s turkey dinners. Here’s what we’ll be offering:
Brining Kits (includes a brine bag and the brine mix – just add water!)
It wouldn’t be a feast if you didn’t start with the perfect charcuterie board! Come down and see what Scott has made for the occasion. No one else in the city has the selection of house made pâtés, rillettes, and mousses that your friends here at Sanagan’s have! Impress your friends and your taste buds!