Parks Canada Heritage Gourmet Recipes

Major Rogers Ration Hard Tack

The fresh crackers are easily broken but as they dry, they harden and assume the consistency of fired brick.

Major Rogers Ration Hard Tack

Origin: Rogers Pass National Historic Site
Region: West (British Columbia)
Period: Traditional
Course: Breads and Pancakes

Photo of Major AB Rogers Photo of Major AB Rogers
© Parks Canada

A colourful character with a surly disposition, American surveyor Major AB Rogers was hired in 1881 by the Canadian Pacific Railway to find a route through the Selkirk and Rocky Mountains. Rogers was a tough task master who was disliked by many of those working under him, and he was notorious for bringing only basic and meagre food supplies on his expeditions. On May 28, his birthday, Rogers found a pass through the mountains, which Canadian Pacific named after him.

Rogers – pictured above – was said to have carried a piece of hardtack in one back pocket and a tin of chewing tobacco in the other. His peculiar beard was groomed specifically so that it would not be soiled by his chewing tobacco.

Major Rogers Ration Hard Tack


  • 4 cups | 650 g flour, preferably whole wheat
  • 4 teaspoons | 20 g salt
  • 2 cups | 500 ml water, approximately


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F | 190°C.
  • Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add enough water − possibly less than two cups − to ensure that the dough sticks together without sticking to your hands, the rolling pin or the pan. Mix the dough by hand.
  • Roll the dough out, shaping it roughly into a rectangle. Cut into the dough into 12 squares about 3 x 3 inches and ½-inch thick. After cutting the squares, press a pattern of four rows of four holes into each square, using a nail or other such object. Do not punch through the dough. The appearance you want is similar to that of a modern saltine cracker. Turn each square over and do the same thing to the other side.
  • Place the squares on an ungreased cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn each piece over and bake for another 30 minutes. The crackers should be slightly brown on both sides.


Recipe tested by Chef Mario Ramsay, Algonquin College School of Hospitality and Tourism

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