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Edna Staebler (1906–2006) was a member of the Order of Canada and an award-winning journalist. She was a regular contributor to Maclean’s, Saturday Night, The Toronto Star, Chatelaine and many other newspapers and magazines.

Born on Jan. 15, 1906 in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario, Staebler graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1929 and the Ontario College of Education in 1931. She was president of the Canadian Federation of University Women from 1943-1945. She was a member of the Toronto Women’s Press Club, the Media Club of Toronto, the Canadian Author’s Association, and the Writers’ Union of Canada.

Her first magazine article was published by Maclean’s in 1948, and her first book in 1967. She was author of Cape Breton Harbour, Places I’ve been and People I’ve Known, and the classic Schmecks cookbook series. Her last publication was Haven’t Any News: Ruby’s Letters from the Fifties – an edited collection of her sister's letters, published in 1995.

A biography of Edna, To Experience Wonder, Edna Staebler: A Life, was written by Veronica Ross and published in 2003, and a collection of her diaries, Must Write, was edited by Christl Verduyn in 2005.

Selected Books and Cookbooks

  • Sauerkraut and Enterprise. University Women's Club of Kitchener-Waterloo, 1967; Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1969.
  • Food That Really Schmecks: Mennonite Country Cooking as Prepared by My Mennonite Friend, Bevvy Martin, My Mother, and Other Fine Cooks. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1968; WLU Press (with an introduction by Wayson Choy), 2007.
  • Cape Breton Harbour. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972; Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1990.
  • More Food That Really Schmecks, 1967. Reprint, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1979.
  • Haven't Any News: Ruby's Letters from the '50s. Edited by Edna Staebler. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1995.
  • Whatever Happened to Maggie and Other People I've Known. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1983; reprinted as Places I've Been and People I've Known: Stories from Across Canada, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1990.
  • Schmecks Appeal: More Mennonite Cooking. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1987.

Selected Journalism

  • "Duellists of the Deep." Maclean's, July 15, 1948.
  • "Cooking the Evidence." Saturday Night, May 1987.
  • "How to Live without Wars and Wedding Rings." Maclean's, April 1, 1950.
  • "Maggie's Leaving Home." Maclean's, Nov. 1, 1951.
  • "Why the Amish Want No Part of Progress." Maclean's, Sept. 17, 1958.
  • "Stratford's Dark Day." Maclean's, Jan. 22, 1966.
  • "Cooking the Evidence." Saturday Night, May 1987.

Selected Awards

  • Canadian Women’s Press Club Award for Outstanding Literary Journalism (1950)
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Woman of the Year (1980)
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Wilfrid Laurier University (1984)
  • Waterloo-Wellington Hospitality Award (1988)
  • Province of Ontario Senior Achievement Award (1989)
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Arts Award (1989)
  • Silver Ladle Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Culinary Arts (1991)
  • Governor General’s Commemorative Medal (1993)
  • Regional Municipality of Waterloo Volunteer Award (1994)
  • Order of Canada (1996)
  • Inducted into Waterloo Region Hall of Fame (1998)

"O dear, I must learn to express myself. I just can't say things concisely and in a way that anyone might understand. Expression is what I absolutely lack. I'm sure I can appreciate it in others. I think art is really just expression and I can't express myself any way at all. I s'pose I'm not artistic... what the devil am I anyway?"

from Must Write: Edna Staebler's Diaries

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