Photo: cover of original Keewaydin cookbook

First cookbook

Year: 1959

Editor: Howard Chivers

Contributors: Warren Chivers, Roy Waters, Jim Bates, Moose Copeland

The Bannock Bible, so often scarred with dried batter, may be the closest we have to a book that has preserved some skills of the Mattawa guides.

The Mattawa guides spent most of the year in the bush and cooking was an essential skill. They were talented cooks and recipes were as second nature as old canoe routes. But the number of Mattawa guides was dwindling in 1959. That year only five of thirteen guides were from Mattawa. With former campers now moving up to fill in the gaps in the guide ranks, recipes were slipping away. So Chief Chivers pulled together a cook book called Camp Cooking for Staff, Guides and Campers.

The idea for one had been a topic of discussion among the staff in 1931 and again in 1949, and probably a number of times in between, but eventually necessity made it happen. Camp Cooking had 23 recipes, including bannock and corn bread, with some discussion on dealing with fish, vegetables and gravy. All this amounted to 12 pages. As Heb Evans remembered, "it had recipes which might be appropriate for a Manitou section, but not much to help someone out for two weeks." 

A new effort was launched for a more ambitious and complete book in 1961 when Heb began to gather recipes. "We began by getting the Gigitowin to contribute suggestions," recounted Heb, "but we didn't get all that many. I don't know how many of them are mine, and most of them were stolen from the guides with whom I traveled. Nishe was a very good cook, so I guess I stole more from him than anyone." Some came from the original book, including Warren Chiver's apple pan dowdy recipe.

In 1965, after four years work by Heb, the 54-page Keewaydin Cook Book came out with Gigitowin financial support covering a fifth of the $500.00 printing cost. It had 104 recipes, not including variations, with discussion of fireplaces, firewood, kitchen areas, walloping, staff-guide responsibilities, reflector ovens and the art of bannock. 

Heb revised it in 1978 with new main-course dishes and a rewrite of the bread section by Jane Carpenter. 

A 1986 revision was done by Fred Reimers to reflect the expansion of the food selection carried in the store. There had been a move away from cans and other heavy items to lighter dried foods. Bill Hauser contributed recipes dealing with these. Fred had been gathering favorite section recipes for four years, recipes not already in the book. He was looking for "imagination" in the offerings. So in went Moose Stew and Bohunk Stew.

Every section carries a Keewaydin Cook Book in the jewelry. It has been, and continues to be, a teaching tool for new staff and campers, and a reference for experienced staff. The bannock and baking sections are probably the most popular. And it became a small phenomenon around the lake as other trip camps that practiced the same trip style   Wabun, Temagami, Metagami and Wabikon   quickly adopted the book too. 

The impact of the Keewaydin Cook Book in preserving the Keewaydin way cannot be understated, nor its benefit to the quality of the Keewaydin experience. As Don Bivens said in his 1971 Wabuno Staffman's Manual, "A Keewaydin section marches on its stomach."

Photo: cover of Keewaydin cookbook

Second cookbook

Year: 1965

Editor: Heb Evans

Revisions: 1978, 1986

1978 contributors: Jane Carpenter, Bill Carpenter, Dan Carpenter Jr., Jeff Gilbert, Marshal Clunie


Where to buy: Ojibway store

Price: $3.25 Cdn




       Heb Evans

     Traditional Fireplace


Bannock - 1959 version

3 pannikins flour

1 tsp. salt

2 heaping tbs baking powder

4 level tbs egg powder

1/4 pannikin sugar

3 tbs powdered milk

3 large tbs lard or shortening

2 pannikins (more or less) water

enough to make batter not too stiff

Bannock - 1965 version (Nishe's recipe)

2 1/2 pannikins flour

1 tsp. salt

3 heaping tbs. baking powder

4 tbs egg substitute (or 2 eggs)

1/4 to 3/4 pannikin sugar

3 tbs powdered milk

1/2 pannikin shortening

1 1/2 pannikin (more or less) water

enough to make batter stiff, but well mixed

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