Community Cookbooks: Religion, Fundraising, & Communities

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     In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, food was an important means by which Canadians orchestrated fundraisers for those in need. The community cookbook deserves special attention for the number of them that were produced across Canada. Even today, they are still published by many community groups. Women’s organizations, historically, produced these cookbooks and sold them in their towns and cities, diverting the revenues towards church coffers or deserving charities.

     Compiling community cookbooks involved the work of many women, who relished the opportunity to raise money, see their choice recipes in print, and participate in civic affairs. At the turn of the century, public spaces like the voting booth remained a masculine domain, but the public work of selling a community cookbook was considered acceptable for Canadian women because an important domestic element remained―cookery. Through the hard work required to produce a community cookbook, women forged important social bonds with each other, found an outlet for their creativity, honed skills related to business and finance, and demonstrated commitment to community betterment.

Community Cookbooks: Religion, Fundraising, & Communities