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.
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.