Exploring Rural Cooking in Canada with New Online Exhibit

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Last updated: May 17, 2023 13:43 EDT
From Our Mothers' Kitchens: Cooking in Rural Canada with photo of woman outdoors making milk.

“From our Mothers’ Kitchens: Cooking in Rural Canada,” a new online exhibition is launching on May 13, 2021, and is an example of a collaborative experiential learning opportunity for students in the College of Arts. By working with and learning from Archival and Special Collections, students gain transferrable skill sets that they can carry with them beyond graduation, whether they pursue a career in history, archival work, or other fields, said Rebecca Beausaert, professor, Department of History, College of Arts. Students in Beausaert’s food history class (HIST*3240: Food History) curated the online exhibit through the exploration of 28 Canadian cookbooks in the Culinary Collection during the winter 2021 term.

The exhibit highlights how rural and agrarian areas in Canada have shaped Canadian food trends and preferences over the past 160 years. The exhibit is part of the What Canada Ate site, another collaboration between the Department of History and the library’s Archival & Special Collections team. What Canada Ate provides access to nearly 300 complete digital facsimiles of Canadian cookbooks from the McLaughlin Library’s Culinary Collection.

The exhibit is dedicated to Anita Stewart (1947-2020), U of G’s first Food Laureate, as its focus is on Canadian food and rural communities. “Stewart’s legacy as a champion of Canadian cuisine will live on in the What Canada Ate site,” said Melissa McAfee, special collections librarian, Archival & Special Collections, McLaughlin Library. In addition to providing access to nearly 300 Canadian cookbooks, the site also features student curated exhibits that provide context to Canadian cookbooks. Stewart donated her archives, documenting her life’s work to Archival & Special Collections’ Culinary Collection in 2015.

We invite you to join us for the launch of this new exhibit and the What Canada Ate site on Thursday, May 13, 2021, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. The event will be held via Zoom and is presented in conjunction with the Rural Women’s Studies Association Triennial Conference.

The launch will feature remarks from:

  • Julia Christensen Hughes, professor, Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, U of G
  • Fiona Lucas, founder, Culinary Historians of Canada
  • Sophie Lachapelle, professor and chair, Department of History, College of Arts, U of G
  • Curtis Sassur, head, Archival & Special Collections, McLaughlin Library, U of G
  • Student curators from HIST*3240: Food History


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