The canadian receipt book

containing over 500 Valuable Receipts for the Farmer and the Housewife


Preface by Melissa McAfee


At the time of Canadian Confederation, many Canadians were their own doctors, cooks, farmers, veterinarians, beekeepers, and even rat catchers. This survival guide, compiled fifteen decades ago, is a fascinating glimpse into Canadian life before modern conveniences.  


Melissa McAfee’s fascinating preface notes that “receipt” is an older term, a set of instructions not only for cooking, but also for medicine and food preservation. In The Canadian Receipt Book, these “receipts” covers many tasks, some of which may be hair-raising to the modern reader: removing worms from a cow’s bronchial tubes may have been as important in 1867 as knowing how to make English-style tea cakes. Recipes for lemon pudding and rice “snow-balls” are found in one chapter; remedies for pig leprosy and a cow’s “mad staggers” in another.


The Receipt Book also contains business advertisements, a dizzying array from the moderately recognizable (insurance and jewellery) to the more dubious (a “drug warehouse” advertising “cocoaine” and  “liver syrup”).


Set to become a classic of early Canadian cooking and household management alongside Catherine Parr Trail, this page-turning collection reminds Canadians the long distance we have travelled in 150 years.


MELISSA McAFEE is Special Collections Librarian in the Archival & Special Collections at the University of Guelph.


​​​203 pages  •  341 images • 6x9  •  paper
Available February 2018 
ISBN-13: 9781772441