by BK Munn
Another Summer weekend is upon us, full of backyard barbeques, patio parties, and camping cookouts.What better time to look back on a classic piece of Canadian cooking ephemera for some fresh cuisine ideas? Today we present a few excerpts from Northern Cookbook, issued in 1967 and reprinted 6 times up to at least 1975 by the Canadian Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Compiled, edited, and tested by Eleanor A. Ellis and profusely illustrated by James Simpkins, the book is an example of the sort of questionable project funded during the glorious Centennial year in honour of our country’s 100th birthday. Expo fever radiates from every page of this tome, replete with the Northern stereotypes and patronizing racism long associated with our tourist literature and certain federal ministries.
Jim Simpkins was of course the creator of the long-running comic strip “Jasper,” about a park bear, and of “Chopper,” a strip about a beaver published in a Boy Scout magazine, and as such a perfect choice to illustrate this volume. The book has a bold, mid-century-style cover and almost every page has a black-and-white cartoon illustration, spot gag, or frame-style montage by Simpkins.