Butter was (probably) the first BC newspaper recipe.

The British Colonist, February 7, 1860

While looking through some of the first newspapers published in British Columbia, I was drawn to the first mention of food issues and recipes and how quickly recipes became a regular newspaper feature.

In 1860, The British Colonist of Victoria was in its second year of publication when it printed a recipe on how to make butter. This may be the first recipe included in a British Columbia newspaper.  Butter was likely a rare commodity in the 1860s since not many cows were around. Storage and transport of butter could be challenges and therefore recipes might be essential for the butter to be well-made in the first place.


Butter was also a topic addressed by The Vernon News shortly after it began publication in 1891. In Vernon the issue was how to sweeten butter after it became stale. The newspaper’s response included the claim that there was considerable “worked over” butter being sold on the market. Worked over butter  meant that the butter had been dissolved in hot water and then cooled, skimmed off and re-churned with a bit of sugar and salt added. A second solution for restoring rancid butter was melting it in a hot water bath “with some coarsely powdered animal charcoal (which has been thoroughly sifted from dust) and strained through flannel” (p. 5). The columnist however concluded that it was best not to “doctor” stale butter and then try to sell it.


The recipes for butter began the custom in both the British Colonist and the Vernon News of including recipes and a wide range of homemaking advice in addition to world and local news.

Recipes appearing in newspapers have long fascinated me. When I grew up in the 1950s in Manitoba, our household had few cookbooks other than the ones my mother assembled by clipping recipes from the newspapers we received like The Weekly Free Press or The Western Producer.  These newspapers had a huge impact on the food that was prepared and served in our home and the community. In British Columbia both The Vancouver Sun and The Vancouver Province had active test kitchens that employed home economists who developed recipes, issued cookbooks, delivered educational seminars throughout the province and were regular newspaper columnists during much of the 20th century.


The British Colonist, February 7, 1860, Volume 3, number 25, p.1 accessed at: https://archive.org/stream/dailycolonist18600207uvic/18600207#page/n0/mode/2up.

The Vernon News, May 21, 1891, Volume 1, number 2, p. 5. Accessed at the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives, digital collection.