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Julian Armstrong O'Brien Collection (C716)

1877-2003. - 375 cm of textual records.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

Julian Armstrong is food editor of The Montreal Gazette and has been cited as one of Canada's finest food historians. She has a University of Toronto degree in modern history and has taken countless cooking courses. Previously food editor of The Montreal Star until its demise in 1979, she has always considered herself a food reporter rather than a culinary expert. She has been reporting on food in Canadian newspapers and magazines for over 40 years and is the recipient of numerous journalism awards in both United States and Canada. She came to Montreal from Toronto in the 1960s and has travelled extensively throughout Quebec researching food and culinary practices. She is the author of the cookbook A Taste of Quebec.

Scope and Content:

This collection contains 241 cookbooks or food-related publications covering every corner of the province of Quebec, such as Old Hemmingford Recipes (1977); Recettes du terroir lavallois (1992); Meals on Wheels Cook Book (1974); L'entrée: A Collection of Recipes from the Junior League of Montreal Inc. (ca. 1990); 100 ans de nos meilleures recettes, by the Vieille fromagerie Perron de Saint-Prime (1995); Le livre de recettes Châtelaine (1969); A French-Canadian Cookbook (1968) and Recettes pour chômeurs et grévistes (ca. 1970).

This collection of Canadian (and especially Quebec) food-related literature covers a wide variety of topics, documenting socially active institutions like the Junior League of Montreal, historical food factories, food relief for the poor, and even the impact of strikes in the kitchens of labourers. Many of the cookbooks also offer their own interpretations of what is typical Canadian and French-Canadian cuisine, thus creating an historiographical corpus of prescriptive literature. A fair number of the books, such as Directions diverses données en 1878 par la Révérende Mère Caron (...) pour aider ses soeurs à former de bonnes cuisinières (Montreal, 1898), also hold intrinsic value, even if only by virtue of their age and/or rarity.

The other part of this donation features a complete set of Julian Armstrong's writings on food and related topics. Consisting mostly of newspaper articles, this material represents over 40 years of writing and research on food.