Cathy Boucher graduated from the University of Ottawa in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics.
The Home Economics, Dietetics Department was located in its own small, two story, grey, building on Waller Street. There was a large food laboratory on the main floor, along with a library and a common room. Mme Dagenais looked after the lab, buying supplies and making sure everything was in its place as the labels on the cupboards and drawers dictated. The textile laboratory for sewing was located on the second floor with a few small classrooms which were also used by the Arts Faculty. The common room had green wicker furniture from the Estate of Mackenzie King, as we were told. It was very comfortable, and many students took naps there. We had our own library and librarian before the University amalgamated all the libraries into one. The basement had lockers and washrooms. We were across the street from the cafeteria housed in the basement of the administration building-easy to get there even in the winter. We did the daily long trek to the other side of the campus to take our science courses, biology, chemistry, biochemistry etc. We were fit.
The majority of our professors were Sisters who belonged to the Congregation Notre Dame. Sister Lucie Blondeau was the head and I recall fondly Sister Gisele Dube’ my foods professor. They were all awesome and cared about us as human beings. I enclose a letter of reference that Sister Gisele wrote for me to get my first job at Best Food/Canada Starch in Montreal. I also include a reference letter after leaving Best foods for the Government of Canada.
I was student president of the Department in third year. That meant I attended the faculty meetings which I enjoyed. I was there when the Sisters decided to give us a coffee spoon for graduation. We all received a pinky gold ring with ten facets which was sponsored by the Canadian Home Economics Association, which also came with a pledge.
With the textile courses came tailoring and a fashion show each year in the spring. I took tailoring, and flat pattern design but was never great at it. We had to make a gingham blouse, oh the stress. We had to do food demonstrations in third year and in fourth year we did a major research project. I can vividly remember the demonstrations; I did one on cocktails and Anne Gourley one on sandwiches and Carmen Smith on bannock. My research project was on canola, then known as rapeseed.
There was a holistic approach to home economics and although I majored in foods, I also took the textile courses and family management. That approach has stood me well in a career in the food industry and as a long-time public servant in communications.
Many of the graduates were dietitians who were, and still are, required to do an internship before they become an RD, registered dietitian. After graduation they went to hospitals for their internship. Some in the Home Economics stream went to teachers’ college, some to public service and some, like me, to industry. Twenty-five students graduated in 1973.
Although the Department was disbanded in the 1980s, its legacy lives on in the good works of its Home Economics and Dietetics graduates.
I worked as a student with Home Economist, Anne Burns in the Brooke Claxton circa 1972. She authored the famous books—“The Canadian Mother and Child “ and "Up the Years from One to Six.”
What I learned could fill a very large book and her love of all things Home Economics remains with me to this day. Her niece and my friend, Elizabeth Larmond Elliot and I met through her Aunt Anne. May I add--- both very proud of their Saint John, New Brunswick roots.
Farewell to the Brooke Claxton Building — many, many Canadians are healthier and happier thanks to the excellent public servants who served there. A parting shot, the cafeteria was great and the public servants had the habit of eating delicious home made soup during the morning break. Anne told me that was the best example of how food habits rule our lives.
Judy Joannou offers wisdom to home economists interested in a career in fashion. Her father, an executive in the fashion industry introduced her to sewing and fashion design which suited her creative spirit. She graduated from Cornell University, in Apparel Design and studied abroad at the London College of Fashion. This led to her dream: becoming a fashion designer in New York City. At 23 she was travelling the world.
Several years later she met and married a Canadian, settled in Ashton and established her home-based business on a dime. Judy created one-of-a kind vests made from discarded upholstery samples and vintage buttons purchased at a garage sale, before re-purposing was a trend! Home sewers assembled them for her. Then she travelled throughout Ontario and sold them to boutiques and through the craft show circuit. As the business grew so did her collection, noted for mix and match high end fashions which she had produced in Toronto. After 26 years of being on the road she opened her first retail store in Almonte and introduced other brands to her offerings. In the Spring of 2020, nudged by the pandemic's forced store closure she upgraded her website to a full online store and brought the shop to her customers with video fashion shows. She continues to run both her retail store and website https://www.judyjoannoudesigns.ca
Test Kitchens may be a thing of the past, but friendships made among Home Economists who worked in them have lasted for decades. Home Economists now are more informed and look to sustainability, farming, vulnerabilities and opportunities galore. The Home Economists like me, who worked in the Best Foods test kitchen, were about product promotion. That is not a bad thing and I can still make anything with a jar of Hellman's mayonnaise.
My first test kitchen friend, Jane Carman, worked for Standard Brands in Montreal, and now Margaret Macdonald, whom I met just three years ago, worked for Manitoba Hydro. Strong women, women of science. We understand the losses we are facing in Home Economics. Let me plug in for our new Professional Practice Course soon to be launched. You ought to follow it; Sue McGregor, who wrote about the Home Ec ring, also read it — who knew? And the link here to Betty Crocker — my friend Ellie Topp told me she had a job offer there.
Born in Hamilton ON, I left after grade 7 to live in St. Catharines where I finished high school and then went off to Macdonald College of McGill University in St. Anne de Bellevue PQ. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I returned to Ontario and did my Dietetic Interneship at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
I started my professional career at the Hospital for Sick Children where I was involved in a massive hospital-wide changeover to tray service for patients, and where I wrote my first article for publication. After a couple of years, I joined the Ontario Department of Agriculture and Food (which has had various names and transformations over the years) and travelled extensively for the Home Economics Branch providing courses, developing recipes, and writing food and nutrition manuals for programs directed to members of the Women’s Institutes, and girls enrolled in the 4H food programs. With this job, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I really enjoyed working with other staff and especially the director, Helen McKercher. I learned so much from that woman about how life worked in government. She gave me much food for thought and many opportunities for growth.
Being a Professional Home Economist (P.H.Ec.) has had a positive impact on my life, personally and professionally. My memberships in local, provincial, and international home economics associations gave me opportunities to meet new friends, research colleagues, and Home Economists from a variety of disciplines. These individuals are passionate about the ability of our profession to improve the lives of individuals and families, locally and globally. I also take whatever chance I get to explain what P.H.Ec. means, particularly to people who are unaware that Home Economists still exist!
By: Cathy Enright, P.H.Ec.
Happy 40ieth Anniversary Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA)
Passing the torch onto new and future Home Economists defines who I am as a Professional Home Economist (P.H.Ec.).
It has been a privilege to live up to the ring pledge.
The most important life changing skill I mastered at my first job when working for a large food company, was how to relate to our customers through relationship building and complaint handling. First, as a Home Economist and then Director of Consumer Services, I also developed technical skills in recipes, food styling, publishing and media relations.
I graduated from Brescia in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics. I worked for Quaker Oats off and on for about 28 years in total. At Quaker I was in Consumer Services for nine months, then moved to research and development for the remaining time. I also freelanced for a few years under the name Cranberry Kitchens. I retired from Quaker in 2011 and started as Administrator/Registrar with the Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA) in 2013.
Brief Background about Marnie Webb
I graduated from the Univeristy of Guelph's Applied Human Nutrition program and have worked for Ontario Pork, the Food Biotechnology Communications Network, the University of Guelph's Food Safety Network, and now at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Guelph.
A life of Home Economics, professionally and personally, along with agriculture.
Diane O’Shea is a Professional Home Economist, and retired (June, 2017) Family Studies Teacher and Department Head in Family Studies and Social Sciences and Humanities at Medway High School (Thames Valley District School Board).
She freelanced as a professional Home Economist for many years and then completed a teaching degree at Western University. She began teaching Family Studies at the high school level in 1997 and retired in 2017. Began teaching Family Studies education at the Faculty of Education, Western in 2007 and continue to do so. Completed a Masters of Education in Home Economics Education (UBC, 2014) – yes learning really has to be lifelong!
She also farmed with her husband, Mike for over 40 years – beef feedlot, field crops of wheat, corn and white beans, but mainly in those years fresh market produce and agri-tourism. They owned O’Shea’s Farm Fresh Vegetables and Berries with on-farm and farmers markets venues.
She is a mom to four and now grammie to four.
The Ontario Home Economics Association, a self-regulating body of professional Home Economists, promotes high professional standards among its members so that they may assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life.