It was a sticky situation: two Southern Ontario regions jostling over butter tart tourism. A lawyer was even called in.
But the bitter rivalry between the Butter Tart Trail of Wellington North and the Kawarthas-Northumberland Butter Tart Tour has sweetened. The pair is now teaming up for a one-day tart-tasting event in Toronto.
“We’ve really made an attempt to make this a collaborative effort,” said Karen Theriault, executive director of regional tourism for the Kawarthas area.
The Aug. 15 event was an easy sell to Wellington North.
“Butter tarts are an Ontario quintessential dessert,” said April Marshall, tourism and marketing manager for Wellington North. “We felt it was better to make a positive out of this situation instead of getting wrapped up in controversy back and forth.”
The Kawarthas-Northumberland Butter Tart Tour, started this year, had raised the ire of Wellington North, whose 30-kilometre tart trail was launched seven years ago. Wellington North was worried the competing tart attraction would hurt its tourism and bakeries. The regions, both north of Toronto, are about 180 kilometres apart.
Wellington North turned to a lawyer to issue a cease-and-desist letter to the tart tour, contending it infringed on its trademarked Butter Tart Trail. As a result, Kawarthas-Northumberland was added to the tour’s name, easing tension between the two regions.
They’ll each showcase their buttery desserts at the Toronto event, which will also include tarts from the town of Midland and Tartistry, a west Toronto bakery playing host to the tasting. Midland is home to the Best Butter Tart Festival. Indeed, many communities and bakers have laid claim to having the best tarts.
“Butter tarts are certainly something that no matter where you’re travelling in the province, you’re going to come across a bakery or two or three or more that are making butter tarts,” noted Rebecca LeHeup, executive director of Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance.
The tourism alliance is co-organizing the tart event. Ms. LeHeup believes butter tarts could become to Ontario what beef is to Alberta, lobster to Nova Scotia, poutine to Quebec. The earliest published Canadian recipe for butter tarts is from Barrie, Ont., dating back to 1900.
“Why not, in search for our culinary identity, latch onto the butter tart?” Ms. LeHeup proposed.