It started out as a simple project: a cookbook, featuring traditional recipes from the Valley. But the project, an initiative by the Heritage Treasures Museum, evolved into something much more significant.
As the Howick location of the museum has been essentially closed since the start of the pandemic, the executive was searching for something that would bring the community closer together. A cookbook was proposed, and with the backing of a Heritage Canada grant in collaboration with the Monteregie West Community Network, the project was launched in January. Three months later, the book was ready for print.
“We did all this by Zoom,” says Lynn Bryson, a board member of the Heritage Treasures Museum, who worked closely with Donna Templeton to organize the book. “It got to be challenging at times,” adds Templeton, with a laugh.
Over 40 people contributed upwards of 70 recipes to the book, which is entitled Heritage Recipes and Traditions from the Valley. The recipes were organized into appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and “special extras” that are harder to categorize, such as dips and relishes.
However, many of the submitted recipes included more details, such as snippets of family history and descriptions of gatherings. These quickly caught the organizers’ attention. Soon, the cookbook was broadened to include stories, articles and memories of traditional gatherings, as well as activities, businesses and organizations within the Valley such as orchards, agricultural fairs, sugar shacks, and bakeries.
“We thought that ‘just a cookbook’ is something that has been done before, but this has a different connotation to it,” Templeton explains. “The stories are what help make the book,” adds Bryson.
As well, an additional section was created to highlight “the newcomers to the scene trying to keep some of the traditions going,” says Templeton. This includes members of the Grade 5-6 class at Franklin Elementary School, who participated in a pen pal project with area seniors this past year. The students submitted some of their favourite recipes, and some of the communications exchanged between pen pals were included as well.
The 140-page book is now available to purchase for $10. Those interested can reach out to the Heritage Treasures Museum via the Facebook page, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Books can also be purchased from board members, including Donna Templeton, Beth Hooker, Nancy Lukassen, Lynn Bryson, and Jean Furcall.