Canadian Food Icon Donates Collection to U of G

December 17, 2009 - News Release

One of the University of Guelph's unique treasures is now even more precious thanks to a donation from one of Canada's most famous cooks.

Jean Pare, founder and author of Company's Coming Cookbooks, recently donated her private collection of more than 6,000 cookbooks to the U of G Library’s culinary archives.

“With this gift, we’ve essentially doubled our cookbook collection,” said Kathryn Harvey, the library’s head of archival and special collections. “Although the focus in the culinary archives is on Canadian cookbooks, Jean’s is a world collection representing Canadian and American cuisine as well as recipes from Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, and spanning from the late 1870s to the present day.”

Harvey said the collection demonstrates Paré’s passion for cooking as well as her broad interests, running the gamut from mass-produced volumes to specialty publications, from how-to guides for planning a child’s party to pamphlets that would have been included in the purchase of the latest kitchen gadget.

“There are the kinds of cookbooks one might expect to find, but there are also some quirky, unexpected gems in the collection,” said Harvey, adding that staff cataloguing the more than 160 boxes of books were pleasantly surprised to find virtually no duplication of titles already in the archives.

”Accommodating a collection of this size is challenging, but this was an opportunity that was simply too good to pass up. The University and the library are delighted to accept this generous gift, which adds a new dimension to our culinary archives to be enjoyed by scholars and cooking enthusiasts for years to come.”

With its corporate headquarters in Edmonton, Company’s Coming is one of the world’s most popular cookbook series, with sales of some 28 million copies and more than 200 titles published since Paré’s first cookbook in 1981. She was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2004.

“It’s comforting to know that the cookbooks I collected during my years of travel across Canada and around the world will now be available to others,” said Paré. “I’m especially happy for those who, like me, enjoy reading cookbooks like novels.”

The U of G Library’s culinary archive contains one of the most complete collections of Canadian cookbooks in the world, featuring thousands of volumes ranging from the 17th to the 20th centuries. It also includes culinary books from other countries, including Britain, the United States, France and Holland.

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