Jehane Benoît, grande dame of Canadian cuisine

Long before the arrival of specialty channels and “trend” gourmet publications, Jehane Benoît, grande dame of Canadian cuisine, helped train whole generations of cooks through her books and radio and television programs.

With training from the Cordon Bleu in Paris and a degree in food chemistry from la Sorbonne under her belt by the age of 21, Jehane Benoît didn’t take long to make her mark on the food scene in her native Montreal. Around 1933, she founded Montreal’s Salad Bar, one of the first vegetarian restaurants in Canada, and she opened the very first secular cooking school in Quebec, Le Fumet de la vieille France, where she taught thousands of students over nearly ten years.

In 1941, she published her first cookbook, Chocolate Around the Clock, which was followed by more than thirty other publications throughout her career, including the iconic Encyclopedia of Canadian Cooking, which to date has sold over two million copies. Starting in 1943, Ms. Benoît also became a well-known radio personality by appearing on various successful programs, including Radio-Canada’s Fémina. Her fame spread with her television debut around 1952, as she become a regular on various shows such as Femme d’aujourd’hui on Radio-Canada and Take 30 on CBC.

A woman ahead of her time, Ms. Benoît readily integrated new technologies in her cooking, becoming an early adopter of the microwave oven. She was a long-time promoter and spokesperson for microwave cooking, and wrote a series of cookbooks with specially adapted recipes. For her contribution to the culinary arts in Canada, Ms. Benoît was awarded the Order of Canada in 1973.

Library and Archives Canada invites you to read the article on Jehane Benoît in the Bon appétit! virtual exhibit (archived website) to learn more about this remarkable woman. And be sure to find out about the published works of this grande dame of Canadian cuisine!

Bon appétit!

Spotlight on theatre posters

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has an extraordinary collection of posters promoting theatre in Canada from the 19th century to the present day. These posters are found in a wide variety of private and public archives and collections, including those of Vittorio, Theo Dimson, Guy Lalumière et Associés Inc., Normand Hudon and Robert Stacey.

Theatre posters also feature in the archives of such Canadian personalities as Marshall MacLuhan and Sydney Newman, and even in collections of old documents—for example, the theatre playbills printed on board the ships in the expedition in search of Sir John Franklin (around 1850-1853).

In addition, we must mention the archives of various theatre and stage artists and professionals (Gratien Gélinas, Jean Roberts and Marigold Charlesworth, John Hirsch and others), and of artistic and cultural institutions such as the National Arts Centre, Theatre Canada, the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, the Globe Theatre and the Stratford Festival.

But the real treasure trove of theatre posters can be found in the “Posters” series of the performing arts collection, which comprises about 750 posters and programs, and in the miscellaneous poster collection, which includes about 3,170 posters.

You might say that theatre posters play a starring role at LAC!

For sample posters, please see our Flickr album.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

Journée internationale de la Francophonie

March 20 is an important date for both Francophones and Francophiles, as it marks the birth of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF)—originally the Agency of Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACTC)—at the Niamey Conference in Niger, in 1970.

Some 21 countries were involved in the founding of this institution, whose members include the federal government and the governments of Quebec and New Brunswick. In addition to its language-related activities, the intergovernmental organization also promotes cultural and technical cooperation among its members.

The 1987, 1999 and 2008 summits, the 2006 Ministerial Conference and the 2001 Games of La Francophonie*—all held in Canada—clearly demonstrate the importance our country places on La Francophonie and the IOF. A number of archival documents from the collection of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) are further evidence of this support. For example:

• Several philatelic records highlight the significance of La Francophonie. The collection includes 14 commemorative postage stamps created in its honour, 9 of which can currently be viewed online. One of the stamps marks the 25th anniversary of the ACTC, the first international Francophonie organization;

• The Fonds Jean-Louis Roy at LAC contains several ACTC-related records, including speeches and media clippings, administrative records and administrative correspondence. These documents must be consulted on-site, at 395 Wellington St., Ottawa.

*These are available in French only.

Timothy Eaton

There’s no better time than the internationally celebrated St. Patrick’s Day for highlighting the history of Irish Canadians. So let’s take this opportunity to learn about Timothy Eaton, the famous founder of the Eaton’s retail chain. Born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Timothy Eaton settled in Canada with his family around 1854. You can find out more about him in various Library and Archives Canada (LAC) resources—here’s how.

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online contains an interesting biography of Timothy Eaton, with a number of genealogical details such as the dates of his birth, marriage and death, and the names of his parents.

Unfortunately, since few lists of arrivals prior to 1865 have survived, Timothy Eaton’s name cannot be traced on any passenger lists.

LAC’s various databases—particularly the census databases—are excellent sources of information. For instance, the 1871 census lists Timothy Eaton as a merchant living in Toronto West with his wife Margaret and their three children, Edward, Josina and Margaret. Continue reading

Library and Archives Canada releases seventh podcast episode

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of its latest podcast episode: Canada’s Royal Winter Game.

Author and hockey expert Paul Kitchen joins us to discuss the origins of the game, its evolution, and what our love for it says about the Canadian character. Mr. Kitchen also speaks to us about the wealth of hockey-related resources held by LAC.

Subscribe to podcast episodes using RSS or iTunes, or just tune in at: Podcast – Discover Library and Archives Canada: Your History, Your Documentary Heritage.

For more information, please contact us at

Did you know that not everything is available online?

In an age when more and more information is available on the Internet, it is easy to assume that if you can’t find what you’re looking for online, it probably doesn’t exist. But this may not always be the case. For instance, at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), we have a vast collection of historical material. Yet most of this collection predates the digital era, which means that it just doesn’t exist in digital format.

It also means that not everything at LAC is indexed or discoverable online, and that you may not find something described in our online tools even though we have it.

So, if, after starting your research, using our major online tools, you cannot find what you are looking for, but suspect it is in LAC’s collection, make sure to ask us about it. Our knowledgeable reference librarians and archivists can help identify tools and resources to guide you in your research.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post on preliminary research and preparing for your reference appointment.

Summary of comments received in French up to September 30th, 2013

  • A user asked how to obtain the recording of an interview done in 1975 at the University of Moncton. LAC suggested to consult the Film, Video and Sound database. LAC also has recordings that are not described at the item level. For those, research needs to be done on premises to consult finding aids.

The Receiver General Buy Button (RGBB): What is it and how does it work?

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) clients can use their credit or debit cards to purchase digital copies of textual material* through the Government of Canada’s Receiver General Buy Button (RGBB). The RGBB is a safe and secure service that provides convenient, reliable and secure payment services to clients and businesses during their online dealings with the federal government.

The RGBB is much safer than other methods of payment such as mailing or faxing a credit card number, or even providing it over the phone, as your personal information is protected throughout the entire payment process. When using the RGBB, your credit card number is immediately encrypted, then placed in secure transaction storage and no longer retrievable in an unencrypted format.

When you order copies and reproductions from LAC, a link to the RGBB will be sent to the email address you have provided. The link will be sent to you after LAC has completed the processing of your order. You may then pay the Receiver General by credit or debit card.

The Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) and the Office of the Privacy Commission (OPC) have studied the safety and security aspects of the RGBB. They published their research in a report entitled “Receiver General Buy Button Privacy Impact Assessment”, which concludes that privacy, safety and security concerns are low since the RGBB appropriately addresses any such concerns.

* Please note that clients who purchase photographic prints, videos, sound recordings or microfilm reels will continue to be contacted by our third-party suppliers for payment. LAC price lists and service standards are all available online.