“Waterloo County Cookfest”

Doon Heritage Crossroads, Kitchener, 5 May 2007

Report by Linda Kenny

Linda is a retired elementary principal who joined CHC two years ago. She volunteers as a Historic Cook at Montgomery’s Inn. She and her husband both enjoy attending CHC activities. 

Doon Heritage Crossroads is a living history museum located in Kitchener, Ontario. Doon recreates rural life in Waterloo County, circa 1914. It is comprised of more than 25 structures, some of which are restored buildings that have been donated and relocated from places in Waterloo County and other south-central Ontario locations. Others are reconstructions based on original buildings. Some of the buildings are the Waterloo Township Hall, the Petersburg Grand Trunk Railway Station, and the Peter Martin House, which was opened in 1988 after a restoration project that involved the Old Order Mennonite community. Many of the tradespeople who worked on the restoration are direct descendents of the Peter Martin who built the house in 1820. Doon Heritage Crossroads celebrates it's 50 th anniversary in 2007.

“Waterloo County Cookfest” was an interesting event co-sponsored by Cuisine Canada and the Culinary Historians of Canada on Saturday, May 5, earlier this year. The weather co-operated beautifully as it was sunny and mild when we met in front of the Hall of Fame. At 11:00 we were led on a wonderful garden tour with Bob Wildfong, Doon Heritage Crossroads’ Historic Gardener (and CHO’s Treasurer and Seeds of Diversity’s Executive Director). The garden is modeled on an early 20 th century Mennonite one, so many of its attributes have religious significance. Bob is very knowledgeable about the garden and the wide variety of edible and medicinal plants it contains. After our garden tour we were invited into the Peter Martin farmhouse, where we were treated to herbal teas made with products from the garden and an informative tour of the historic house.

There was also a behind-the-scenes look at the Waterloo Regional Curatorial Centre that several participants looked into.

At noon we all entered the lower level of the Hall of Fame, where we enjoyed an excellent 1914 Waterloo County Lunch. The meal was capably prepared by members of Liaison College's Culinary School using local cookbooks. Chef Brian Clafton's menu paid tribute to the best recipes published in the early 1900s from celebrated local cooks. Used for this special luncheon were The Berlin Cookbook (1906), The CanadianFarm Cookbook (1911), and The New Cookbook by the Ladies of Toronto (1903). The menu reflected the ingredients that were readily available in the early 1900s, as well as the culinary styles of the era. It was a wonderfully tasty meal that would have satisfied even the most hardworking farmer. It was served buffet-style, and included Chicken Broth with Golden Drops, brown and whole wheat breads, Maple Baked Ham, Gohate (veal meatloaf), Pickled Red Cabbage, Asparagus Vinaigrette, Scalloped Potatoes, and Pound Cake with Rhubarb Marmalade. Tea and coffee were also available. Liz Driver, then CHC President, congratulated Chef Clafton on his excellent choice of dishes and his authentic interpretation of them.

After our delightful lunch, Liz Driver presented a Waterloo County Cooking Seminar and Cook- book Appraisal. Liz's talk was both informative and interesting. She was congratulated on the imminent publication of her culinary bibliography, Culinary Landmarks, as well as being the recipient of a prestigious prize for her work, the 2007 Marie Tremaine Medal from the Bibliographic Society of Canada. The afternoon ended with door prizes and another optional behind-the-scenes visit to the Curatorial Centre.

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