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ARCHIVED - Bon appétit!
A Celebration of Canadian Cookbooks

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History of Canadian Cookbooks

The Pioneer Kitchen

Photograph of a man washing dishes inside a tent at a railway camp, 1905
Food preparation for survey party no. 8, National Transcontinental Railway, Whitemouth, Manitoba, January 1905

The establishment of pioneer settlements in Canada took place over hundreds of years. This might explain why the early cookbooks of a given region not only date back to different decades, but also to different centuries. At first, the settlers favoured the customary foods and recipes from their native countries. But cooking over a wood fire in the hearth of a log cabin fireplace, with limited ingredients, challenged them to develop new approaches to old recipes. Their survival often depended on the advice of indigenous peoples, who knew how to use the bounty of the land.

Canada's first settlers ate what they could find, and the choice depended largely on where they lived. In recent years, the publication of cookbooks honouring the regional traditions and recipes of pioneers has provided some continuity between the Canadian cooks of yesteryear and those of today.