The Canadian Cook Book was first published by The Ryerson Press in 1923.
The 1923 list of publications of The Ryerson Press contains an entry under the category of “On Various Themes” for A Canadian Cookery Book by N.L. Pattinson. “We are offering here the only complete book of cookery produced in Canada. It is primarily prepared for use in Technical and Domestic Science School, but is most admirably suited for home use. There will be two editions of this work, a school edition, which will sell for $1.50, and a presentation volume, in white vellum, for gifts to brides and others, which will sell for $2.50.”
In the Preface to the 1923 edition, Ms. Pattinson states that, “This book has been compiled, primarily, to satisfy a demand for a book of recipes conveniently arranged for use of teachers and students in technical schools. It is hoped that it may prove valuable also to all others who are interested in the preparation of food. For this reason, a number of distinctive features characterize the book, as a resume on Foods, in which is given a brief explanation of terms such as are met in many of the popular articles of newspapers and magazines, and following this, practical suggestions as to principles underlying the planning of diets and menus.”
The book was revised and enlarged after the Second World War and in 1947, Ms. Pattinson remarked that, “In the war years we have come to realize the immense importance of food and nutrition in relation to national economy. Naturally, the production of food comes first to public attention, but, with greater knowledge of food values, conservation of nutrients for the health and well-being of each individual is receiving more consideration.
Scientists are at work improving the content and quality of our foods. Their efforts can be defeated, in the home, unless sound principles are applied to their preparation.”
In its 19th edition, The Toronto Star Weekly called it, “A splendid book for both beginners and for experienced cooks.”
Upon the death of Ms. Pattinson a revised edition was commissioned and two graduates of Home Economics of the University of Toronto, Helen P. Wattie and Elinor B. Donaldson took up the charge. Their 1953 edition Preface reads, “Since the Canadian Cook Book was first published thirty years ago, it has had two groups of loyal friends: those who were learning the art of cooking in schools and those who practised this art in their homes. The new authors are proud to be able to carry on the work of the late Miss Pattinson. Its accuracy and dependability have provided a sound foundation on which to build. …To the principal and staff and to the students in Home Economics and Photography at the Ryerson Institute of Technology we express our thanks for their interest, assistance and encouragement.”
The 1969 edition was enlarged by almost 200 pages and completely redesigned with numerous additional recipes, including “a quantity of basic recipes designed to give greater emphasis to fundamental procedures, a fuller selection of supper dishes, a greater assortment of speedy-meal recipes and an enlarged section on menu planning and entertaining.” This edition also featured a dust jacket cover image supplied by Dominion Stores and a lavish basket of fresh vegetables photographed by Peter Croydon. The dust jacket was also “bound in pyroxylin coating which may be wiped clean with a damp cloth.” This edition could be purchased for $5.95.
The Ryerson Press was sold to The McGraw-Hill Book Company of Canada in 1970 and the Canadian Cook Book continued to be a best seller. The last edition was published in 1977. The authors state that, “Nutrition and economy determined the selection of recipes in this edition. Practical alternatives are given for foods likely to contribute to such problems as obesity; basic nutritional needs may be met, for instance, by using powdered skim milk instead of fresh whole milk wherever feasible as a way to cut down on cost while maintaining optimal food value. Subjects such as home canning and freezing are extensively covered, as is the preparation of mixes for making bread using whole grains for added nutrition. Salt quantities have been reduced in many recipes as personal taste and diets vary. While the book contains recipes for cakes, candies and cookies, as well as for certain foods that may be expensive, there are many more recipes for economical dishes that contribute to a balanced and nutritional diet.”
Nellie Lyle Pattinson (1873-1953) was educated in Bowmanville, Ontario, and became Director of Domestic Science at Central Technical School in Toronto, Ontario.
Helen Wattie (1911-2009) was a graduate of the University of Toronto and a former school principal in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. She joined CUSO and taught for two years at a teachers’ college in Ghana and at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in the 1950s. She travelled extensively, gleaning new recipes and exciting ideas about food.
Elinor Donaldson-Whyte graduated from the University of Toronto. She was a nutritionist and worked in the field of community health. She was also a member of the Canadian Dietetic Association and the Canadian Home Economics Association. She taught high school and at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.