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University of Guelph Library Culinary Collections

Cowan's Cocoa, published in Toronto, n.d.

Welcome to Guelph's Culinary Collections housed in the Archival and Special Collections section. These collections and fonds feature an impressive variety of books as well as manuscript and archival resources. There are more than 13,000 volumes, some of which date back to the 17th century. Two collections are especially large and contain a variety of important historical works: the Una Abrahamson Collection and the Canadian Cookbook Collection. These collections include publications from many countries and highlight the development of cookery in Canada and other parts of the world.

Guelph's culinary resources have proved to be a valuable historical and sociological resource for understanding food habits, nutritional ideas, medical remedies, social customs, and scientific and technological progress. They reveal aspects of daily life and provide evidence of the transformations occurring in society, for example, multicultural contributions and the changing roles of women. Early cookbooks (or "receipt books") often featured separate sections on cookery, medicine, and household matters. As a result, the receipt book was used in ministering to family household needs and providing advice for maintaining homes and arrangements for food. Modern culinary works continue these traits but are usually more specialized. They are also a delight for book lovers who have their own favourite cookbooks.

Our collections are open to members of the public or the university community. We are located on the lower level of the McLaughlin Library at the University of Guelph. Check for hours to drop by. If you're visiting from out of town, here is a campus map.

The University of Guelph is proud to be a major partner, along with Cuisine Canada, for the annual food awards that honour Canadian culinary writers and publishers. The Canadian Culinary Book Awards are presented each autumn and are designed to recognize excellence and creativity in food and beverage writing and publishing. These awards also promote Canadian culinary food culture. More information on the awards is availabe at the awards home page.