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Local Heritage News in the (Social) Media

A number of interesting blogs have emerged over the past year that pay homage to the Waterloo Region’s heritage, and to the City of Waterloo’s heritage in particular. One of the newest blogs, launched in the fall by local historian Karl Kessler and colleagues is Mary Allen Stories which, as its name suggests, publishes stories about the interesting places and people in that neighbourhood.

Recent posts include histories of the now empty St. Louis Catholic School and an adjacent vacant lot which at one time housed the Waterloo Furniture Company. Both properties were recently purchased by the City of Waterloo and considerable local interest has emerged about their future use.

Another blog that chronicles a fascinating piece of K-W history is written by local historian and researcher Joanna Rickert-Hall under the pen name “Town Crier”. The blog titled 1820 Log Schoolhouse describes in tremendous detail the little known history of the modest log structure currently situated in Waterloo Park.

Rickert-Hall describes how, after serving as the first school for children of early settlers of Kitchener and Waterloo, the school was occupied by Levi Carroll, an escaped American slave, sometime during the mid to late 1800s. In 2012, the schoolhouse was designated as a heritage building.

Carolyn Blackstock’s own blog, 366 days with the Berlin Cookbook, records the author’s experiences cooking from the 1906 cookbook each and every day over the course of 2012. Carolyn writes:

Waterloo and Kitchener. Berlin and Waterloo. The two communities have been closely linked for a very long time so it is no surprise that a community cookbook published in Berlin (Kitchener) in 1906 would have recipes contributed by people in Waterloo. The Berlin Cook Book was “compiled by the Ladies of Berlin, Waterloo and Friends Elsewhere”. For the past year I’ve become very familiar with this cookbook by preparing a different recipe from it every day and then writing about the experience, and the contributors, in a blog called 366 Days with the Berlin Cook Book. I discovered quite a bit about Waterloo as I researched the women involved with The Berlin Cook Book.

One Waterloo contributor was Mrs. E. Hollinger. In 1895 Mary Cook married Edward Hollinger, a hotel clerk in Listowel near where Mary was born. At the time the cookbook was published, Mr. and Mrs. Hollinger were in their early thirties and lived in Waterloo where they operated the Commercial Hotel.

I suspect Mary cooked professionally at the hotel. I liked her recipe for Date and Fig Custard. I can imagine this dessert as a favourite among the hotel’s lodgers and boarders. Mrs. E. Hollinger has over a dozen recipes in the cookbook but the results are really hit and miss. Her date pudding was great while her baked banana recipe was among the biggest disasters of the year so far. Did she have problems writing and therefore the recipes are not transcribed properly? Was she the sort of cook who leaves out a key ingredient or tip? Did she have difficulty bringing large quantity recipes down to family size? Some apparent changes in her life intrigued me. The hotel seems to have changed hands shortly after the cookbook was published and the 1911 census lists Edward’s occupation as retired hotel keeper with the two living as lodgers at 35 Joseph Street in Berlin. I’m curious about what prompted this change.


There’s another contributor with a Waterloo hotel connection— Mrs. H. A. Germann (née Lenora Heller). I tried her recipe for Vegetable Salad. Originally a hat maker, Mrs. Germann was the daughter of a widowed Berlin hotel keeper. She married Henry Allen Germann, the son of a Waterloo hotel keeper. In 1911 Henry (age 33) was working as a salesman for a dry goods store while 30-year-old Lenora took care of their two-year old daughter Louise and their Park Avenue home in Waterloo.

One of the better known contributors was a member of the Seagram family famous in Waterloo for their distillery. The Seagram Company produced whisky at a factory at the corner of Erb and Caroline for many years. Toronto-born Edna Irvine MacLaughlin (or MacLauchlin) married Edward Frowde Seagram in 1902, son of Joseph E. Seagram and Sons founder, Joseph Seagram. Twenty-six year-old Mrs. E. F. Seagram provided a number of recipes for the cookbook including Fruit Fritters, Chocolate Cake, German Rice Pudding and Date Cake. (The fruit fritters were very delicious.) When the Berlin Cook Book was published, Edna had two small children and was pregnant with her third child. Edward was raised in a household with a butler and cook while Edna’s father was a commercial traveller. By 1911, Edna had four living children and the help of a governess and two domestic servants at their home on King Street in Waterloo. In addition to contributing recipes to the cookbook, Edna and her husband wrote a children’s book called the Air King’s Treasure: A Story of Adventure with Airship and Aeroplane that was published in 1913.

Another contributor from Waterloo is twenty-nine-year-old Mrs. P. Utley (Uttley). Catherine (Catie) Oberer married fireman Peter James Uttley. They had three boys, Clarence, Laurier, and Harold. By 1911 they had moved to Berlin. After nearly a year of cooking and baking from The Berlin Cook Book, I really cannot imagine using a cake mix again. Mrs. Utley’s (Uttley) Silver Cake is better than anything from Betty Crocker and her kin and is almost as easy to prepare. The cake contains ingredients that even a child can both recognize and pronounce, and most are grown in Waterloo Region!

by Michelle Lee and Carolyn Blackstock

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