A journey along the Trans-Canada Highway might just be the most iconic Canadian road trip out there, not to mention the ultimate way to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial anniversary.
The 8,030 km route linking all 10 of Canada’s provinces spans coast to coast through Maritime wilderness, vast swaths of farmland and into the mountainous regions in the west.
You know what else links these disparate landscapes? (Other than Tim Hortons…)
Dotting the highway, these nostalgia-inducing bootstrap businesses deal in everyone’s favourite food. Unfortunately, unlike Timmy’s handy locator, there’s no directory to pinpoint these gems and not enough intel on Yelp to inform travellers which chips are worth holding out for.
Until now that is.
Four Toronto friends have made it their mission to cross the country stopping at as many of these chip trucks, fry stands, and spud-centric roadside attractions as possible.
For Patrick T. Lo, Chris Solomon, Zachary Muir-Vavrina, and Paul Parolin, the Trans-Canada Fryway began last summer as they set off to complete the Ontario leg of their adventure in a ’74 Airstream trailer.
With one province down and nine more to go, the “Fry Guys” are planning to set out again this summer to continue their cross-country adventure. For now, whet your appetite on the first two recently released episodes of their on-going web series, Trans-Canada Fryway.
Daily Hive recently sat down with the “Fry Guys” and asked the important questions:
What inspired you to set out on this journey?
We all grew up traveling The Trans-Canada Highway in some capacity, it literally brings this country together, and yet we all feel it’s greatly under appreciated. We simply want the Trans-Canada Highway to get the attention it deserves – how better than to do so by shining a spotlight on one of its key attractions – French fries!
What did you learn on the first leg of the trip?
The list is endless, but one thing that really stood out was learning just how many delightful individuals there are serving the countless Canadians traveling our great highway – from a family run institution that’s been serving its community for more than 50 years, to a pair of 21-year-old entrepreneurs purchasing and expanding a 60-year-old operation, to a busy fleet of five.
What makes a great chip?
In order to review each chip stand we created a rating system – the Fryway Fork rating system – consisting of five criteria: fries, gravy, service, ambiance, and value. There’s more to it than how long the potatoes are soaked, how many times they’re fried, or whatever other trick of the trade you might hear – it’s equal parts the fare, the value, the people, and the atmosphere that put that good taste in your mouth.Can you name your top three Ontario discoveries? The three chip stands having received a perfect five Fryway Forks – Wes’ Chips, Mississaugi Fry Co, and Ye Olde Chip Truck – would be the obvious answer, but aside from that, I would say just how huge and stunning Ontario really is. Being able to wake up in the morning and take a dip in Superior – the water is so fresh you can drink it (which we did, mixed with a nip of whiskey on the advice of my father) really stands out. Secondly, how many chip stands there actually are in Ontario! We set out starry-eyed thinking we could try every one – that ideal was squashed very early into the trip after eating 8 fries in a 100 km day! Lastly, I would say the hospitality of Ontarians. Not knowing us from a hole in the ground we were invited into people’s homes, to sit for meals, given a place to stay for the night, etc., more often than not.
What are you most excited about as you set out to cross Canada this summer?
A cross-Canada road trip is a right of passage for Canadians and it’s something none of us have had the opportunity to experience. Simply getting out on the road, meeting people, finding out who has the best fries in Canada, all while getting the chance to document a tradition that is such a part of our national heritage is more than enough to get us excited.
Want to go on you very own Trans-Canada Fryway adventure? Daily Hive has mapped every stop for you to follow along yourselves.
The ultimate guide to chip trucks on the Trans-Canada Highway
Editor’s note: Chip stands in Ontario are a seasonal business, and so, while we’ve released this list to coincide with the launch of the Trans-Canada Fryway web series, please note that many only operate summer hours.
Claude Chip Wagon
Address: 1060 Ogilvie Road, Ottawa
Tommy’s Chip Wagon
Address: Wellington Street West and Holland Ave, Ottawa
Address: 660 Eagleson Road, Kanata
Address: 198 Madawaska Boulevard, Arnprior
Address: 31 Staye Court Drive, Arnprior
Address: 22 Pembroke Street, Cobden
Address: 3476 Petawawa Boulevard, Petawawa
East Side Freddie’s Fries
Address: 31239 Hwy 17, Chalk River
Freddie’s Fresh Cut Fries
Address: Freddie’s Trading Post, 33861 Hwy.17 West, Deep River
Address: 645 Valois Drive, Mattawa
Larry’s Chip Stand
Address: 230 Main Street, Sturgeon Falls
Address: 235 Main Street, Sturgeon Falls
Address: 593 Notre Dame Avenue, Sudbury
Address: 595 Imperial Street South, Massey
Address: 93 Front Street, Spanish
Great Canadian Chip Truck
Address: Ironbridge Motel, 22171 Highway 17 West, Iron Bridge
Address: 7 West St, Blind River
Address: Great Northern Rd, Sault Ste. Marie
Address: Hwy 17 North, Montreal River Harbour
Address: 137 Mission Road, Wawa
Mona’s Chip Stand
Address: 92 Broadway Ave, Wawa, ON P0S 1K0, Canada
Mr. Fries & Much More!
Address: Elgin Street and Highway 17, White River
Address: Mobile food truck (location may vary) owned by Station Two, 37 Pennisula Road
Address: Hwy 11 17, Kakabeka Falls
Address: 325 Government Street, Dryden
Address: 51 King Street, Dryden
Address: Market Square, 306 2nd Street, Kenora