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Recipes and Food Collection (C265)

Eat More Fish. How to prepare cook and serve Canadian fish, and so conserve Canadian beef and bacon for the soldiers at the front, Booklet published by the Food Controller for Canada (detail), 1917. Recipes and Food Collection C265, M2005X.6.1 © McCord Museum

Eat fish to support the war effort!

"Eat More Fish -

How to prepare cook and serve Canadian fish, and so conserve Canadian beef and bacon for the soldiers at the front."

Canadian war propaganda apparently permeated every aspect of public and private life, as illustrated by this September 1917 booklet published by the Food Controller. Today, people are encouraged to eat fish because of its nutritional value and gastronomic appeal, but during the Great War, patriotism was the primary reason Canadians were encouraged to make use of the abundant supplies of fish available from the nation's waters.

Although the Food Controller had only been appointed a few months earlier, he wasted no opportunity to promote this campaign to substitute fish for meat. Founded on the simple premise that one could make a real contribution to the war effort by eating more fish and thus less beef and bacon, this booklet featured numerous recipes along with tips about buying and storing fish. The government's food control efforts did not stop at meat; products like wheat, dairy and sugar were also targeted.

The Food Controller was replaced in 1918 by the Canada Food Board, which was discontinued later that year. Though the end of the war signalled the end of food rationing, the government continued to educate the public about food consumption and nutrition.

C265 Recipes and Food Collection. - [1749-2000]. - 475 cm of textual records. - 2 objects.

Scope and Content

This collection chronicles the history of food consumption, eating habits and social norms surrounding meals, as well as providing information about the food industry, food processing, packaging, advertising, and the development and promotion of new food trends. The documents help paint a portrait of Canadian domestic life, primarily from the 1910s to the 1980s, by addressing themes like nutrition, the role of women in the family home, the economy and etiquette.

The collection includes nearly 1,000 cookbooks and recipe booklets, most of them promotional in nature, produced between the mid-18th and early 21st centuries. The majority of these documents were either published in Canada or feature products widely consumed by Canadians.

Numerous recipe booklets promote specific food products. Unlike cookbooks, these booklets were published primarily by private companies to showcase their products, such as Robin Hood and Monarch flours, Campbell soups, Reynolds aluminum foil, Carnation evaporated milk, Catelli pasta and Magic baking powder. Several booklets were also published by governments and various producer associations with the aim of encouraging the consumption of foodstuffs like beef, poultry, fish, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Finally, some of the works in this collection spotlight individuals -- real or fictional -- who have since become famous, like Jehane Benoît and Marie Fraser. These booklets were sometimes distributed free of charge, or else sold very cheaply, which explains their popularity.

There are also several scrapbooks, notebooks and personal journals containing various tips and recipes. These documents provide a more intimate look at culinary practices and how they were transmitted from one generation to the next.

Variations in title: Formerly known as Recipes, Cooking and Food Collection.

Source of title proper: Based on contents of the collection.

Physical description: Contains 1 apron and 1 fabric bag.

Physical condition: Some documents are fragile and/or tattered.

Immediate source of acquisition: The documents in this collection are from various sources. The majority came from donations by numerous collectors, including Joyce Billing, René Villeneuve and George R. MacLaren.

Arrangement: Several recipe booklets found in the Corley-Murchinson (C340), Louise T. Gillespie (C535), Victoria Dickenson (C564) and Trina Vineberg Berenson (C593) collections were added to this collection in 2016.

Language: The documents are in English and French. Some works are bilingual.

Accruals: Further accruals are expected. However, since the collection is relatively large, any future acquisitions will focus on specific themes.

Related groups of records: Other McCord Museum fonds and collections contain food-related books and booklets, including the McCord Family (P001) and Bagg Family (P070) fonds.

The collection is divided into the following series, subseries, sub-subseries and files:

  • C265/A Handwritten Recipes and Scrapbooks. - [1749-ca 1970]. - 21 cm of textual records.
    Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02 - Part 03 - Part 04 - Part 05 - Part 06 - Part 07 - Part 08 - Part 09 - Part 10 - Part 11 - Part 12
  • Scope and Content: The documents in this series cover nearly two centuries of culinary and domestic history. They chronicle culinary practices, trends and tastes, and how they were transmitted from one generation to the next. They also document how individuals recorded various tips and recipes in handwritten or typewritten journals, notebooks, loose sheets or scrapbooks.
    Sometimes the owners of these collections are identified: Mary Apston, Mary Cook, Whildred N. Benson, Annie Baker, Berthe Laurin-Brunotto and her daughter, Lorraine. Various annotations illustrate how users adapted the recipes.
    Some notebooks also include recipes and tips for household maintenance (cleaning marble, getting rid of ants and removing stains from fabric) or body care (how to care for dry or oily hair, for example).

    Source of title proper: Based on contents of the series.

    Language: The documents are in English and French.

  • C265/B Printed Matter
    • C265/B1 Food product manufacturers
    • C265/B2 Household appliance and kitchenware manufacturers
    • C265/B3 Government departments, public organizations and producer associations
      • C265/B3.1 Canada. - [1917-2000]. - 28 cm of textual records.
      • Scope and Content: This sub-subseries documents various promotional campaigns for Canadian food products orchestrated by government departments, public organizations and producer associations.

        It contains over 100 booklets published by organizations such as the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Fisheries (or Fisheries and Oceans Canada), the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency, the Dairy Farmers of Canada and the Beef Information Centre. While some of these publications were driven by commercial or nationalist motives, some were also part of a public education program to promote healthy eating habits.

        Source of title proper: Based on contents of the sub-subseries.

        Language: The documents are in English and French.

      • C265/B3.2 Québec
      • C265/B3.3 Others
    • C265/B4 Schools
    • C265/B5 Social groups and religious associations
    • C265/B6 Newspapers and media
    • C265/B7 Merchants and retailers
    • C265/B8 Insurance companies. - [1918-1973]. - 7.5 cm of textual records.
      Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02 - Part 03 - Part 04
    • Scope and Content: This subseries chronicles some tools used by certain insurance companies in the 20th century to promote healthy eating habits.

      It contains recipe booklets published primarily by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, along with some published by the London Life Insurance Company and the Confederation Life Insurance Company.

      Source of title proper: Based on contents of the subseries.

      Language: The documents are in English and French.

    • C265/B9 Other


Last update: August 30, 2017