The Old ontario Cookbook

Collected, adapted and tested by Muriel Breckenridge (Published 1976)

Some of the things I love about this book is that it covers subjects like A Glimpse of old Ontario, its homes and its food, its a baby history of who came and settled ontario and how they both brought their foods with them and how they changed to suit the land.

How about a few interesting facts for you.

  • The United Empire Loyalists were the first main group of settlers to come to ontario (non-native settlers), the first settlement in 1784 was made upof a disbanded british regiment of highlanders at cornwall in a an area that now is called Glengary (aka, which explains the yearly Glengary Highland Games that draws thousands each year to the area)
  • The average size of the first homes built were 8 by 10 by 6 feet out of logs, the roof was made of thick overlapping slabs of basswood or strips of elm bark held downin layers by tied poles. The spaces were chinked with wood, moss and plastered inside an out with clay.  Typically there was no fireplace in the first comes, if there was a hole was placed in the roof to allow it to escape out.
  • If the cabin was built in a already established settlement, the neighbours would help at little cost, the average house cost of five english pounds, but if you were back in the bush, they would have to hire help, then the cost was about twelve English Pounds.
  • During the first  years, especially in winter, suppies were very limited, Pork, Flour, potatoes and corn with were the main parts of the diet, with fresh fish an game.
  • The need for flour was huge and so the first grist (grain) mill was built in 1783 in upper canada by kingston and another by Niagara, in 1787 a thrid was built in Napanee.
  • In Dundas country, John Mctntosh in 1796 was successful in producing an apple tree that was named after him, The Mcintosh Red.
  • Turnips were a a staple crop for both cattle, sheep feed as well as humans.
  • Wild Pigeons or Carrier Pigeons were abundantly plentiful and were one of the settlers staple sources of meat. They were fattest right after the harvest season. They were often roasted, they liked their pigeon pie.. They liked it enough that the carrier pigeon became extinct in 1914.
  • Any and all wild berries (that are good eating for us, not all berries), were gathered and used in many ways, the indians perserved these fruits for winter use by making fruit cakes out of them, the settlers adopted this methods too. Fruit Cakes were made by boiling blueberries, raspberries, currants, cherries, plums or small fruit for half an hour. the fruit is then spread out on pans and dried near heat or in the sun. When partly dry, it was cut into sqaures, turned over and sprinkled with sugar. Lacking pans, the local Indians spread their fruit on large leaves to dry completely and the cakes were then stored away in a dry place for later use. These cakes were reconstituted by stewing and then they resembled a perserve as we know it today but before canning came along!
  • When Glass sealers were first introduced and for many years afterwards, they were expensive and so were not replaced unless absolutely necessary, cracks were patched with home made cement, and she includes the recipe used. I am not sure I would recommend this today LOL
  • I love her Brine a pork recipe.. per hundred pds of meat, make a brine to cover strong enough to carry a unpeeled potato about 3 inch’s in diameter. Add 1 tsp of saltpetre, 4 cups of brown sugar and 1/2 pd of ground pepper.

In total over 420 authentic recipes from ontario country kitchens, with interesting information thought the whole book.. Five stars, if you can track this old book down, I would highly recommend it.

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6 Responses to The Old ontario Cookbook

  1. Heidi Tijssen says:

    I love those old cook books, which often describe a whole way of life! And this is the first time since I read your blog that I recognise the name of a town (Dundas)! Lots of Dutch people emigrated to Canada, but it seems to me they all flock together. The people I know in Canada live in Norwich (Oxford county), Lethbridge area Alberta and Chiliwack BC.

  2. CallieK says:

    Ooh I want! I love old cookbooks.

  3. mom says:

    Good morning Daughter,did you forget that our relatives ,The Armstrongs were among the United Empire Loyalists granted land in Ontario after the war?They went to New Bruswick first,didn’t like it and so were granted more land in Ontario. I thought that was a wonderful book also love mom.

    Mom, I didn’t forget, I am very proud of the history of our family, it is a great book.

  4. I borrowed this book from the library recently, and I thought the mini-history lesson was pretty cool!

  5. thesnowwoman says:

    I have to get a copy of this book!!

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