My name is Colin Rier and I am a undergraduate student at McGill University studying food history. I am this summer’s Goodman Intern at Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC), working with the cookbook collection. I have a long history of working with food through a myriad of different opportunities. My work experience includes farms, restaurants, school and museums. I didn’t realize the possibilities of food studies until I developed a special historical menu for a restaurant I worked at in high school. From that experience I knew I wanted to continue to study food.
To carry on with my food studies, I headed to McGill due to its reputation for food studies. Since arriving in Montreal I’ve acted as a manager at Foodchain restaurant and I also lead culinary tours of the Mile End and Plateau with the Museum of Jewish Montreal. I am beyond honoured to be able to assist in the curation and promotion of the RBSC Cookbook Collection under the tutelage of Nathalie Cooke, Jennifer Garland and Christopher Lyons.
The Internship Tasks
The first goal of the internship is to collect information on the cookbook collection, focussing on its strengths and weaknesses. The results of this research will be compared with other culinary literature collections across North America. With this information I will create a collection policy dictating how the collection will grow over the coming years.
I am also assisting in the planning of an event celebrating Jewish Foodways in the fall. This event will be an opportunity for the Montreal food community to come together around a great lineup of speakers.
Finally, I will build an exhibit that will run in the lobby of the McLennan Library Building through the Fall semester. The exhibit will centre along the theme of ‘Eating Montreal: Dining In & Out in the 20th century’. It will feature some of greatest treasures from the cookbook collection including menus and ephemera. As such a strong part of the city’s culinary history, a large part of the exhibit will highlight the Jewish contribution to Montreal foodways.
The Cookbook Collection
The McGill Rare Books cookbook collection is home to more than 3,500 items, making it one of the three largest cookbook collections in Canada. It features items including small pamphlets advertising worldly cuisines to large textbooks giving instruction on Canadian classics. There is also a large range of dates in the collection, starting with contemporary texts and stretching back to 16th century volumes. Collection strengths include 20th century Canadian, British and American cookbooks and a large number of community and advertising cookbooks from regions all around Canada.
Watch the Library Events page for an announcement of these upcoming events.