Nancy's Wedding Feast: and Other Tasty Tales.


224 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-897009-22-2
DDC 971.6'9




Illustrations by Peter Rankin
Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



Nancy’s wedding is one of 14 occasions recalled in this unusual collection that couples storytelling with food. There’s a Halloween celebration from the 1940s, an 1834 funeral, a picnic in 1958, an outdoor Pentecostal service in 1853 … all snippets of local history and family lore from Cape Breton.


Cape Breton is the lobster-claw-shaped part of Nova Scotia, settled mainly by Gaelic-speaking immigrants from Scotland. Its rich oral history tradition and reputation for good food fuelled a long-running CBC Radio morning show, which in turn led to this collection. The result is an empathetic portrait of the area’s past, from the dramatic migration of 1,000 Cape Bretoners to Australia in the 1850s, to a look at multiculturalism as experienced by an inquisitive child growing up in Glace Bay c. 1910. Each account is anchored in local history and enhanced with fictionalized elements as needed to add details and bring the events to life.


A menu and recipes accompany each story, further building on its sensory experience. Food speaks vividly of heritage, of economic status, of social development. The fruit-filled groom’s cake, Ontario-style potato salad, and assorted dainties served at Nancy’s wedding in 1875 spoke of a very different society than did the bleak 1801 Thanksgiving feast of eel stew and boiled potatoes.


Like the folk tales, the recipes reflect both a strong Scottish heritage and Aboriginal influences. The recipes have been updated for use today and are quite feasible where the distinctly Maritime ingredients such as eels, summer savory, seaweed, and blue potatoes are available. A folk-art style soft pencil drawing accompanies each tale/recipe chapter.


The tone, in text, recipes, and art, is low-key, gentle, and evocative of a friendlier, slower-paced world.


St. Clair, James O., and Yvonne C. LeVert., “Nancy's Wedding Feast: and Other Tasty Tales.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,