The original Glace Bay Chip Wagon. In operation in Glace Bay since June 18, 1946.
The 1942 GMC truck was built specifically for selling fries. The truck is one of six such machines built at the time, four of which were built in a box shape to be pulled by horse.
The original Chip Wagon was purchased in Montreal by Mike and Rosie Minchoff in 1942. The couple set up shop in Montreal where they operated the business for a couple of years prior to being notified of a bylaw prohibiting street vendors in the city. (It is rumoured that the strong hand of the “mafia” forced the business out of town).
Lucky for Glace Bay, The Minchoffs were informed by their lawyer of the economic boom in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia due to the booming coal mine industry. The couple set their sights on Cape Breton Island.
The Chip Wagon was shipped from Montreal to Sydney by rail in 1946. The Minchoffs jumped into the wagon in Sydney and travelled the remainder of their journey to Glace Bay. Once in Glace Bay the couple immediately began to peel and cut potatoes to be sold as fries that very same day.
The Minchoffs successfully operated the Chip Wagon in Glace Bay beside the Russell Theatre on Commercial Street from 1946 until 1980. However, the Chip Wagon could also be seen in Albert Bridge on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
In the year 1980 the Chip Wagon was bought and operated by Weston MacDonald for 3 years. It was then passed on to brother Alfred MacDonald and operated until 1987 in the same Commercial Street location. During this 7 year span the wagon was supervised and maintained by father Ed MacDonald .
In June of 1987 the Chip Wagon was purchased by its current owners Mike and Marielle Yorke. The Yorkes operated the Chip Wagon on the Commercial Street site for only one year before relocating to the corner of Commercial and Water Streets where it is a summer time staple and remains to make delicious chips to this day.
The Chip Wagon is quite unique as it continues to be operated in its original condition delivering the original menu with 100% hand cut homemade french fries.
Throughout the years, the Glace Bay Chip Wagon has been the source of many artists’ inspiration. The likeness of the original Chip Wagon has been sketched, drawn, painted and photographed by professional and novice artists alike. The likeness of the Chip Wagon can be seen in many homes and offices in Glace Bay, Canada and throughout the world.
Notably, the Chip Wagon has also made some cameo appearances in locally shot films. One in particular being “New Waterford Girl”. The 1999 film stars Liane Balaban, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Nicholas Campbell and Mary Walsh. Look for the Chip Wagon during the big boxing match. You will even see Mike Yorke serving up the fries!
The One and Only Truly Belgian Fries…….There is no fancy skill involved in making these crispy fries, but there is a trick. The potatoes are fried twice. The first time cooks them…
Pour enough oil into a deep fryer to reach at least halfway up the sides of the pan but not more than three-quarters of the way up. Heat the oil to 325?F.
Cut the potatoes into sticks 1/2 inch wide and 2 1/2 to 3 inches long. Dry all the pieces thoroughly in a clean dish towel. This will keep the oil from splattering. Divide the potato sticks into batches of no more than 1 cup each. Do not fry more than one batch at a time.
When the oil has reached the desired temperature, fry the potatoes for 4 to 5 minutes per batch. They should be lightly colored but not browned. If your fryer has a basket, simply lift it out the remove the fried potatoes. Otherwise, use a long-handled skimmer to lift out the potatoes. Be sure to bring the temperature of the oil back to 325?F in between batches. At this point the fries can rest for several hours at room temperature until you are almost ready to serve them.
Heat the oil to 325?F. Fry the potatoes in 1-cup batches until they are nicely browned and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on fresh paper towels or brown paper bags and place in a warmed serving bowl lined with more paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve. Never cover the potatoes to keep them hot as they will immediately turn soft and limp. If you are inclined to perfectionism, leave some potatoes to fry halfway through the meal so you can serve them crisp and piping hot