An Early Text on Medicine and Cookery for the Canadian Settler

An Early Text on Medicine and Cookery for the Canadian Settler

HOIT, Richard C., The Canadian farrier, or farmer’s manual for the treatment of horses, net cattle, sheep & swine. By a practical farrier. To which is added the family physician; or useful family guide, containing plain and simple directions for the treatment of the most common diseases, with a great variety of medical and other recipes. Sanstead and Sherbrooke, L[ower] C[anada]: Walton & Gaylord Printers, 1834. 16 cm. pp. [iii]-xii, [1], [13]-142. First (only) edition. A very good copy, with some folds and staining to pages, complete in original vernacular binding with decorative scarification. Ownership signature dated 1837. Housed in a custom clamshell case. Driver, Culinary Landmarks Q2.1.

     This is one of only a handful of recorded copies of the one of the first cookbooks prepared for a Canadian readership, printed in the Eastern Townships by Joseph Soper Walton and Asa Gaylord, whose joint enterprise lasted only from 1834 to 1837. The volume collects three bodies of work useful to the homesteader. The first third of the book (pages 13 to 68), which gives the volume its title, concerns animal hus­­bandry, with sections on horses, cattle, sheep, and swine. The second third (pp. 69 to 118) offers medical remedies “by a learned physician, who, to a scientific knowledge of medicine added the attainments of a three years' residence among the Indians.”  After a few pages on baiting (pp. 119 to 121), the final section (pp. 122 to 142) offers a selection of recipes for both household products and comestibles, some of which feature such local products as “Indian meal” and pumpkins. Among the recipes are directions for preserving eggs, salting beef, pickling hams, and preparing native tea, Indian pudding, beer, and “hard emptings” – this latter being a form of sourdough starter.

     Given the hodgepodgery, Driver identifies this volume as “a compendium, rather than a cookbook proper” (p.xxi, n.9). Yet she includes the book in her bibliography, noting that this is the third volume of recipes to be printed in Canada, following La cuisinière bourgeoise (Quebec, 1825) and The Cook Not Mad (Kingston, 1831), but preceding La cuisinière Canadienne (Montreal, 1840) and The Frugal Housewife’s Manual (Toronto, 1840).

     Driver locates three copies of The Canadian Farrier: BAnQ (lacking the pages on cookery), UQTR, and the Library of Congress. OCLC adds the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and Acadia University. There is no e-book version.

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    An Early Text on Medicine and Cookery for the Canadian Settler