A new online exhibit highlighting how rural Canada has shaped Canadian food trends is the result of a collaboration between the University of Guelph’s McLaughlin Library and students in the Department of History.

“From our Mothers’ Kitchens: Cooking in Rural Canada” will launch May 13.

The exhibit highlights how rural and agrarian areas of the country have shaped Canadian food trends and preferences over the past 160 years.

Students in the Food History course curated the online exhibit by perusing 28 Canadian cookbooks in the library’s culinary collection during the winter term.

By working with Archival and Special Collections, students gain skills for careers in history, archival work or other fields, said Dr. Rebecca Beausaert, a professor in the Department of History who teaches the course.

The exhibit is part of the What Canada Ate site, another collaboration between the department and the library’s special collections team that provides access to nearly 300 complete digital facsimiles of Canadian cookbooks from the library’s culinary collection.

The exhibit is dedicated to Anita Stewart (1947-2020), U of G’s first food laureate.

“Stewart’s legacy as a champion of Canadian cuisine will live on in the What Canada Ate site,” said Melissa McAfee, special collections librarian.

Besides providing access to the cookbooks themselves, the site features student-curated exhibits that provide context to the collection. Stewart donated her archives documenting her life’s work to the culinary collection in 2015.

The launch of the new exhibit and the What Canada Ate site will take place 12:30-2 p.m. The event will be held via Zoom and is presented along with the Rural Women’s Studies Association Triennial Conference.

The launch will feature remarks from the following:

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