Edna Staebler (1906-2006)


It does not surprise me that The Record would push almost all other news coverage off the front page to cover the passing of this particular 100-year-old woman. Edna Staebler is a local legend, well loved in this community, even by people who never met her.

Outside of Kitchener-Waterloo, you may have heard of Edna Staebler, or you may not. The woman did not revel in her fame or fortune. She became nationally famous for her book, published in 1968, entitled Food that Really Schmecks — a book which is less of a cookbook and more of a humourous life study that opened a window on life in the Old Order Mennonite community.

She has written far more than three life-studying cookbooks, however. She was a tireless supporter of the arts (founded a literary award and a research fellowship), a shrewd businesswoman, and a lifelong journalist whose countless articles have appeared in numerous magazines. She is also known for the company she kept. She found it easy to make friends, even in her last months, and has already received eulogies from Wilfrid Laurier University president Robert Rosehart; she once talked of pole-vaulting (at 90) a fence to visit old friend Adrienne Clarkson, then governor general of Canada. She was close friends with Pierre Berton, W.O. Mitchell, Arthur Hailey, Ben Wicks, Margaret Laurence and more.

And now she’ll be remembered by her community.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the shocked, the injured and the slain at Dawson College today. I have nothing to add, so I’ll instead route you to J. Kelly Nestruck’s heartfelt response..

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