Revisiting Our Past-The Home Cook Book
Revisiting our past-The Home Cook Book is a nostalgic look back to the year 1877-1878. In 2017, Canada will be celebrating its 150th Birthday. It only seems fitting to take some looks back over our great history. One such journey happens just over 10 years since Canada became a country known as the Dominion of Canada.
Strong men and women were still carving trails across the land. One such woman was Mrs. Samuel Fenton McMaster. Elizabeth McMaster was a deeply God-fearing woman who loved children. Because of this love for children, her heart was deeply broken over the sick children. Especially those sick children who had the misfortune to be poor and living in the slums of Toronto.
How to help the sick children?
In 1874, Elizabeth McMaster gathered a group of like-minded women together to discuss what could be done for the sick children. Elizabeth herself a mere 26 years of age shared the following vision; as recorded in the minutes of an early meeting:
“Mrs. McMaster stated that she had been led by the Spirit of God to found The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and that, having accepted the work as from God, she could never resign it, and therefore the only alternative for those who could not work harmoniously or satisfactorily with herself or those who associated themselves with her in the work was to withdraw.”
as quoted out of Max Braithwaite’s book, Sick Kids.
Learning from her faith
Mrs. Elizabeth McMaster is to be admired and even learned from for her faith, drive, dedication, and work in founding The Hospital for Sick Children. It was not easy to bring this vision of a children’s hospital into functioning reality. Or to even keep it going once it opened.
As with all things—money was needed. However, Elizabeth clearly told the other attending women that it was their duty and responsibility as Christian women to do something. They could no longer stand on the sidelines among all the horrible sickness and illness of the poor children in Toronto. Elizabeth did go on to acknowledge the lack of money, and she stated her faith that if they were true and faithful servants of God—led by Him—He would not forsake them or the children. These ladies knew that hard work and determination was needed to raise the necessary funds to get a building to start a hospital. So fundraising became a big priority.
The ladies of Toronto faithfully petitioned churches and other organizations and soon saw donations start to come in. These ladies also understood the importance of advertising too. With the first donated funds they proceeded to have pamphlets printed. Pamphlets that could be easily carried with them and distributed to anyone willing to take a moment to listen to The Hospital for Sick Children cause. Soon these pamphlets were distributed throughout the region—and people’s hearts and wallets began to open and share in Mrs. McMasters vision for a Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto.
The first location opens
By 1875 they had opened their first location. Financial struggles continued as they do with most new businesses and enterprises. But their faith and prayers kept them strong and pushing forward to seeing the sick children being helped and even healed.
And the children did start to come. Children suffering from burns, broncho-pneumonia and even tuberculosis of the bone. At that time many people were desperately poor. This is a time before welfare systems, child tax credits, and health care coverage. Mrs. McMaster and her group of Toronto ladies were not going to turn any child away, no matter how poor. In fact, it was for the very poor that kept this group of women moving forward to see that all children would receive proper medical attention. This was the first Hospital in Canada, specifically for Sick Children. Since that time other regions and provinces have followed suit, however, Mrs. McMaster and her vision—was the first.
It is unclear whose idea it was or how quickly it was compiled, but 2 more firsts were born out of this group of women. Not just the first children’s hospital in Canada, but also the first Community Cook Book and its fundraising purpose.
In 1877 The Home Cook Book was published. It featured recipes from these and other local women in Toronto and surrounding regions. Basic good home-cooked meals that appeal to everyone. As well, it contained other household hints too. Household hints such as how to deal with Bedbugs, a problem that is resurfacing in our day and age. So not only was this a Cook Book representing the community at that time, but it was the FIRST Cook Book in Canada that was a fundraising tool too !!
In Mrs. McMaster’s Preface to The Home Cook Book she notes information about the 111 sick children treated in their first year of operation. As well she states,
“We trust that the purchasers of this book will not rest content with the aid thus given to the institution, but will try and become acquainted with its plan and working that they may better understand the object the compilers of this work had in view.”
Mrs. McMaster challenged the purchasers to do even more than just purchase a Cook Book. She challenged them to “do something”.
Within 10 years this The Home Cook Book was in its 70th printing and having sold over 100,000 copies. It continued to be printed until 1929. Reprints of this wonderful Cook Book have been made in recent years—most notably the reprint from Elizabeth Driver from an 1878 edition. You can get this for yourself here at amazon.ca
What Started This Look To Revisit Our Past?
Actually this nostalgic look back was really a journey to look at a Canadian Cook Book that is 140 years old. To look at recipes and discover more about how people ate and lived just after Canada became a nation. Imagine my surprise as I learned so much more.
I learned about a strong determined Christian woman with a heart to help the poor—the poor children and their illnesses. Her ability to rally a group around her and their efforts to have an operational Sick Children’s Hospital within a year of that first meeting of Toronto ladies. A hospital that over the past 142 years has grown to be a world-class institution that still continues to give care to sick children throughout the country and the world. Including one of my own granddaughters who has received excellent care through several life-saving surgeries including open heart surgery. Today she is still under supervisory care at Sick Kid’s Hospital and is able to lead a normal lifestyle.
Thank you, Mrs. McMaster
Thank you, Mrs. McMaster for listening to the Spirit of God and His direction for your life. By being an obedient servant of God—countless numbers of children have received world-class medical and surgical care. Lives that have been saved and can impact our own future and that of Canada. We need more Mrs. McMaster(s). People unafraid to follow God’s leading. Take a step of faith and do something.
In the meantime, I would like to share with you a recipe from this 1877 Home Cook Book. It is a recipe for Mrs. McMaster’s recipe for Salad Dressing. Try it out and enjoy.