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BBQ In Canada

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Diva Q BBQThis is a guest post by Danielle Dimovski of the Diva Q BBQ Team hailing out of Barrie, Ontario! You can find her on twitter @DivaQBBQ.

To talk about traditional low & slow BBQ most people would assume that it ends just at the Canada US border. However the Canadian Competitive BBQ scene though is alive and well. From coast to coast Canadians are putting their own unique spin on traditional low and slow style of BBQ.

One of biggest drawbacks is the lack of a universal Canadian Association. There is the Western Canadian BBQ Association which runs with an agreement with the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association (PNWBA) under agreement with the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS). In the East there are no associations right now (The Canadian BBQ Association –CBA now defunct) and most competitions are run independently. There is a challenge in making sure you have the right times and turn in orders as they vary depending on where you are. This just covers the organizations though and certainly not the food itself.

Canada and its BBQ is a melting pot. There are some regional differences like the US but not as much as a difference as a tweaking from province to province. I have yet to find any team up here who uses a vinegar based or Alabama white sauce in their turn ins. At least none who admitted it. What I have found though is that Canadians overall still like their sweet. This includes brisket which I have now seen chopped pulled and shredded for turn ins. The underlying message seems to be anything goes as long as it tastes good. The love of pot-roast brisket still irks me though for sure. I prefer a Texas style brisket straight up but it doesn’t do so well in Canada.

Canada BBQCanadians are much more apt to be out there with a smile on their face and a beer in hand in -25 degree weather. Snow acts as a great insulator as many of us know up here that we BBQ all year round. There is still the intermingling of BBQ and grill as terms but as long as we are cooking something the wording doesn’t mean much. BBQ is slowly starting to appear up here on our restaurants as well. We don’t have BBQ joints on every corner like they do in the US. I doubt you would be able to find any family of BBQ’ers that goes back more than 2 generations or brick pits. However what you do get from us is a whole lotta passion and love of the food that is BBQ. Canadians overall just seem to have to travel a lot more to get it.

Many of the restaurants that are now putting out BBQ are using Fast Eddy’s or Southern Prides. Heck even Fast Eddy’s new pellet grill is being made in Alberta by the Danson company. Traeger Canada has an east and west location as well. It’s growing. Slowly but surely it is growing. I can with pride say that the largest BBQ store in the world is located in Canada. www.bbqs.com has the ultimate collection for any BBQ’ers when it comes to grills and accessories.

Our charcoal is also rated some of the best in the world. For example our Natures Own Basques all natural lump is made from hardwood sugar maple trees. This is made in Quebec. Having tried many other lump charcoals I have to agree it’s one of the best on the market for sure. In fact this lump happens to be one that many of the top rated in Canada and the US use because of its density, longevity, heat and overall pleasing flavour profile.

Ontario Gas BBQThere are some drawbacks for Canadians who like to BBQ. The accessibility of many of the rubs, spices, and injections is an ongoing pain in the butt. The expense of getting them through customs and the additionally brokerage fees levied by those men in little brown outfits can be outrageous. I am lucky to have some friends in the Northern states that I ship to regularly. I love to experiment and try out new things and thankfully they don’t mind being my shipping depot.

We have challenges in regards to the accessibility to more BBQ competitions. Right now there are less that 20 competitions from coast to coast that include the 4 meats. That means travel and lots of it. Often it is a lot more economical to travel south to the US to compete that it is to travel across Canada. Lucky for us -that we can – and have travelled to many competitions south of the border.

There is one universal truth for BBQ’ers though. No matter if you are in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Louisa Virginia, Austin Texas, or Toronto Ontario, BBQ people are the best type of people in the world. They are willing to give you anything if you forgot something. They will do anything to help you get to a competition. They will feed you and supply you with beer (I will admit Canada has much much better beer though) and at the end of the weekend you will have a friend for life. That is real BBQ not so much about the food but about the passion and the people behind the BBQ.

BBQ Addicts would like to thank Danielle for writing up this guest post for us, even though Canada doesn’t have better beer. We hope to see the Diva Q BBQ Team on the circuit soon!

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  1. Excellent Article Danielle,

    One small point I would like to make though – it has to do with the editors comments at the end….we do have BETTER beer!

  2. bbqlikeapro says:

    BBQ is lucky to have you, and in Canada, the bbq community should feel fortunate that you’re a passionate pitmaster that’s putting Canada bbq on the map for sure. I have no doubt that with your take no prisoner, aggressive, and bbq trailblazer attitude, not to mention you’re love for the media you will get our friends to the north on track. Always a fan of yours, I know nothing is going to get in your way. Thank you so much for sharing the challenges that our friend from the North have to overcome, all for the sake of producing good bbq.

  3. The Crock Pot Blog says:

    Although my passion is the crock pot, I do love to bbq all summer long. Being a Canadian too, i must say the Danielle has done us real proud. What a great article. By the way, I agree, Canada has the best beer! You should put a poll up on your web site to get the definitive bbqaddicts result.

  4. MealEx says:

    We are excited to announce that August 7th is National BBQ Day™!
    Meal Exchange charity invites all Canadians to register their own backyard barbecues to bring their friends and neighbours together for a good time, a good cause, and to raise awareness about Canada’s hunger problems!

    For more information and to register, visit http://www.nationalBBQday.ca!

  5. Frank says:

    Not to burst your bubble, but Smoke `n` Fire in Overland Park Kansas is a tad bigger a store…Canada`s BBQ following is growing Time to set up a National registry for teams and have sanctioned events by region. Then watch it grow!!
    Happy Q`n fellow Canucks!!

  6. Aaron says:


    Actually, I’ve been to the one in Ontario, and it’s just as big if not bigger than Smoke n Fire. Pretty close and they have similar stuff though. I’d shop at either one… although 10 minutes to Smoke n Fire or KC BBQ Store is a bit easier than going to Canada :)

  7. Mike says:


    I have been following your successes for a couple of years now. You are awesome! I don’t understand why someone with the experience that you have, doesn’t get some other people together to start a national association here in Canada? My son and I are thinking about starting to compete however, the competitions here in Ontario are quite difficult to find other than Barrie and Toronto. The food handling rules and health regulations are generally kept under lock and key until you have paid a registration fee and the organizers, particularly in Toronto don’t respond to emails and phone calls. We need some sort of properly organized BBQ Association that provides the structure, and level of information communication that we need.

  8. Al Milton says:

    We are interested in starting a proper BBQ association here in Ontario. Please send us an e-mail of you are interested.


  9. Paul says:

    Go for it Danielle, and do us Canucks proud! I’m in the US now, but Canada needs to be on the BBQ map. And yep, Canadian beer is world class!