Many late-nineteenth century cookbooks and household manuals contain advice for the preparation of home remedies aimed at curing or preventing illness. During this time, pharmacology was in its infancy, and most physicians’ expertise did not go beyond setting broken bones and treating wounds. Germ theory was relatively new and the causes of some of the world’s most deadly diseases still unclear. Thus, treatment methods varied as doctors lacked the knowledge and equipment to see beyond the surface of the patient’s skin. As a result, Canadians took healthcare into their own hands. Most medicines available around the turn of the century could not cure illness, but instead helped to ease symptoms and offer comfort. Many were dangerous when consumed in excess, such as common pain relievers like opiates and morphine. For the home physician, cookbooks often contained lists of “sick room” remedies that used common household ingredients. Both The “Surprise” Cookbook and Breakfast, Dinner and Supper contain sections devoted to teaching the housewife the do’s and don’ts of sick room etiquette and how to prepare food for the invalid.
Clarke, Anne. "Surprise" Cook Book: Containing Valuable Recipes in All Departments, Including Sickroom Cookery. St. Stephen: St. Croix Soap Manufacturing Company. 1899. Archival & Special Collections, University of Guelph.