Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tuesday Treasures

Tom the backroads traveller hosts this weekly meme.

June 2018 - Toronto ON

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is a library in the University of Toronto, constituting the largest repository of publicly accessible rare books and manuscripts in Canada. The library is also home to the university archives which, in addition to institutional records, also contains the papers of many important Canadian literary figures including Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen.

It is located in the Robarts Libray.

Among the collection's items are the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), Shakespeare's First Folio (1623), and Newton's Principia (1687). Contrary to widespread internet claims, the library does not have Darwin's proof copy with annotations of On the Origin of Species (1859); the library does however have annotated proof sheets of: The Power of Movement in Plants , The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals , and The Effects of Cross and Self Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom . Other collections include Babylonian cuneiform tablet from Ur (1789 BC), 36 Egyptian papyrus manuscript fragments (245 BC), and Catholicon (1460).

Some background on the library, we were here to see a temporary exhibition.

But just look at his amazing place! John had never been here and he was astounded.

Now to why we were here!

Mixed Messages Making and Shaping Culinary Culture in Canada will display a tasty arrangement of rare cookbooks, periodicals (magazines), manuscripts and culinary objects from the 1820s to the 1960s. This exhibition will examine how the culinary culture of Toronto and surrounding areas was made and shaped by those who participated in or were excluded from the making and using of culinary materials. On display will be many scarce items which are part of our collections due to the generous donations of Mary Williamson. Objects on display include a copy of the Frugal Housewife's Manual, the first cookbook written and published in Canada, posters advertising the beloved Canadian Cook Book, and an English curry bottle from the early 1900s (with curry still inside!).

Culinary Treasures St. Basil’s Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League - 1959 Edmonton Alberta.
The recipes illustrate the book’s rich cultural situation. “Mock Strawberries” sit alongside traditional recipes for “Grandpa Boris Cabbage” and dill pickles (one of which is marked “I make these”). The book’s owner was a Mrs. Anderson, an indication that Ukrainian recipes were not always limited to exclusively Ukrainian households. Although fruitcake was common across many cultural groups, these recipes show the influence of more diverse ingredients, including canned pineapple.

Click here to peruse a 1909 digitized copy of a cookbook compiled by a Sault Ste. Marie womens' auxiliary. I really enjoyed the corporate sponsor ads at the beginning of the book.

Margene Recipes was the first cookbook promoting margarine in Canada. Who knew there could be such a battle over margarine or that it would go to the Supreme Court!!!

In Canada, margarine was prohibited from 1886 to 1948, though this ban was temporarily lifted from 1917 until 1923 due to dairy shortages. Nevertheless, bootleg margarine was produced in the neighboring Dominion of Newfoundland from whale, seal, and fish oil by the Newfoundland Butter Company and was smuggled to Canada where it was widely sold for half the price of butter. The Supreme Court of Canada lifted the margarine ban in 1948 in the Margarine Reference. That year, Newfoundland negotiated its entry into the Canadian Confederation, and one of its three non-negotiable conditions for union with Canada was a constitutional protection for the new province's right to manufacture margarine.
In 1950, as a result of a court ruling giving provinces the right to regulate the product, rules were implemented in much of Canada regarding margarine's color, requiring that it be bright yellow or orange in some provinces or colorless in others. By the 1980s, most provinces had lifted the restriction. However, in Ontario it was not legal to sell butter-colored margarine until 1995. Quebec, the last Canadian province to regulate margarine coloring, repealed its law requiring margarine to be colorless in July 2008.

Growing up in Quebec we had a weird law that forced margarine producers to colour their product white if they wanted to sell their wares in Quebec.

This is what it looked like, my mother didn't buy margarine very often, you would squeeze the food dye button to make it yellow!

Before my time! Montreal Daily Star (except Sunday) Ceased with Sept. 7, 1951. Merged with: Standard (Montréal, Québec), to form: Montreal Star.

But I grew up with the Montreal Star, and still have photocopies of recipes from it.
The Montreal Star was an English-language Canadian newspaper that folded in 1979 in the wake of an eight-month pressmen's strike.

La Presse printed the French version of the cookbook.

The solidly impressive building that occupies the southeast corner of Bloor Street West and Queens Park (157 Bloor Street) is a reminder of the great public buildings erected across Canada in the 19th and early-20th centuries. The Department of Household Sciences building in Toronto is one of the finest example of these structures. The funds for its construction were provided by Lillian Massey, whose father was Hart Massey. He was the founder of the Massey-Harris Company, at one time the biggest manufacturer of agricultural machinery in the British Empire.

Lillian Massey was born in 1854 in Newcastle (Durham Region), in Canada West (Ontario). In 1897, in Toronto, she married John Mill Treble. Throughout her life, she remained keenly engaged in social reform, philanthropy and education. A wealthy heiress, she was also a patron of the University of Toronto.

There were two publications with this name. The first ‘Canadian Home Journal’ being published starting in 1895 and ended sometime after 1901. The second version included more fashion began being published in 1905 under the name ‘The Home Journal’, with the word ‘Canadian’ added in 1910. ‘The Canadian Home Journal’ was Canada’s best selling women’s magazine.

Kate Aitken (April 6, 1891 – December 11, 1971) was a Canadian radio and television broadcaster in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Sometimes known by the nickname Mrs. A, she was one of the most famous female broadcasters of her era. In addition, she was known as an expert on cooking; she gave many public talks and demonstrations, and her advice was relied upon by millions of homemakers

Jehane Benoît, née Patenaude (March 21, 1904 – November 24, 1987) was a Canadian culinary author, speaker, commentator, journalist, and broadcaster.After studying at the Sorbonne and the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, she started her own cooking school, Fumet de la Vieille France, in Montreal. She also opened one of Canada's first vegetarian restaurants, "The Salad Bar", in 1935.

Best known as "Madame Benoît," she wrote 30 books during her career, including the Encyclopedia of Canadian Cuisine. She appeared regularly on CBC Television's Take 30 and later became a proponent of microwave cookery, writing several books on the subject as well as appearing in television commercials for Panasonic microwaves.

She was a well-known name to me growing up.

Slit ‘Maple Leaf’ Banded Wieners lengthwise with a small paring knife.
Cut ‘Maple Leaf’ Canadian Cheese in ¼ inch slices and then in strips.
Place a strip of Cheese in each pocket and wind a slice of ‘Maple Leaf’ Breakfast Bacon around the Wiener and Cheese.
Fasten the Bacon with toothpicks.
Place in over 350-375 for about 15 minutes. Serve immediately

(Source: Recipes from Canada Packers Cooking School at the C.N.E. by Brenda York; Mary Williamson Culinary Ephemera, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library)

Yikes! I remember these atrocities that I refused ever to eat!

Dishes encased in gelatin, which ranged from everything from a vegetable- and sugar-laden concoction called “Perfection Salad” (which was actually a pretty popular dish by the time the 50s rolled around) to one that had lamb chops submerged in it, didn’t actually go out of style until the 1970s, when Jell-O molds (occasionally called “gel cookery”) finally gave way to dishes that people would actually eat. But when they first gained popularity, there were in fact a few reasons why a home cook might have wanted to serve them.

In the early 1950s refrigerators were still quite expensive, and gelatin needs refrigeration in order to set. So in a way, preparing a Jell-O mold was something of a status symbol.


  1. ...and who would think that there was a fight over margarine of all things! Old cookbooks aren't what I would expect in a rare book collections. A neat post Jackie, thanks for sharing!

  2. Magnificent architecture, Jackie!

    I didn't know that about margarine.

  3. What a fascinating place. I would love to visit such a rare book library! Loved all the exhibits you shared!

  4. Toronto sure is an interesting city. I remember squeezing the plastic bag.


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