BeaverTails, alternately spelled "beaver tails" or referred to as queues de castor by French speakers, are a Canadian treat shaped like the tail of a beaver, Canada's favorite semi-aquatic rodent due to its status as the official symbol for Canadian sovereignty from British rule. And they're often believed to be a made-in-Quebec phenomenon.
But BeaverTails do not originate from Montreal or anywhere in Quebec as some may mistakenly assume.
Rather, BeaverTails are an Ontario creation, a glutinous pastry enjoyed by the Pam and Grant Hooker family for three generations before the pair decided to go commercial in 1978 in the small town of Killaloe located two hours west of Ottawa. By June 2, 1980, the Hooker family had opened their first permanent storefront in Ottawa's ByWard Market.
Confusion over the pastry's origins probably lies in the fact that BeaverTails caught on so much in Quebec that the eponymous pastry chain has a heavier concentration of outlets in the French province than anywhere else in Canada, or in the world for that matter.
The franchise, which features storefronts across Canada as well as a handful in the United States, also made its way to South Korea, Japan, and Dubai.
What Do They Taste Like?
According to the BeaverTails franchise, a BeaverTail tastes "similar to a yeasted, cracked wheat baking-day treat prepared on early Canadian and American farms." They've also been likened to the classic funnel cake, a popular deep-fried carnival treat.
We think BeaverTail tastes like a hole-free doughnut with a moister, chewier, softer texture. And it's big. Real big. Think three or four doughnuts smooshed into one large whole wheat pastry, dough stretched out to resemble a beaver's tail then float-fried on canola oil. And once the BeaverTail is cooked, it's slathered with butter and then topped with an assortment of sweet or savory ingredients like:
- Chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella) and powdered sugar
- Cinnamon and sugar
- Sugar and lemon
- Whipped cream
- Maple butter
- Maple butter and nuts
- Maple butter, melted chocolate, and bacon
- The ObamaTail*: A BeaverTail coated with cinnamon and sugar topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and maple butter slathered on in the shape of an 'O'
Note that not all of these flavors are available at any one time across franchise stores. Also, note that some are seasonal offerings and others are "secret" menu items revealed only on social media and offered for a short promotional period. Ingredients and flavor availability is subject to change.
*The ObamaTail became a "thing" when Barack Obama visited Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the first time as President of the United States on February 19, 2009. One of his bodyguards walked up to the Byward Market stand and requested a BeaverTail. Then the 17-year-old student and BeaverTail employee Jessica Millen happily obliged, presenting the head of state with a uniquely decadent and personalized creation. According to Obama, "it was very large."
Montreal features a trio of centrally-located BeaverTails stands in addition to other outlets spread out in the city. Just one thing. They're not called BeaverTails in Montreal and across Quebec. Instead, keep an eye for a red sign that says Queues de Castor:
- At 123 de la Commune Street East in Old Montreal, across the street from the Bonsecours Basin
- In the same building as the Montreal Science Centre at 2 de la Commune Street West
- Inside the confines of amusement park La Ronde at Parc Jean-Drapeau open May through October
Also, keep an eye out for a Queues de Castor food truck roaming the streets of Montreal.