Mrs. MacLeod DOES have a first name!

Last week I shared the story of the world’s first butter tart, manufactured
in the kitchen of Mrs. Malcolm MacLeod in 1900 and first published in the
Royal Victoria Hospital Auxiliary’s cookbook that year.

Who cares? You might ask that. Butter tart lovers would take issue with

And Toronto Life Magazine [December 07] saw fit to name Mrs. MacLeod’s
butter tarts as one of the 100 things you must taste before you die.

That was the jist of the column last week. I was a bit frustrated though,
to have to identify the inventor of the butter tart as ‘the wife of” Malcolm
MacLeod. But, that’s what the word Missus (or Mrs) means, and so it ended

But, great news! Beth Mills, geneology enthusiast, has been researching
family trees for the past few years. She spent two hours researching two
websites and came up with the full history of Mrs. Malcolm. She says it
took longer to write about Mrs. MacLeod than it did to research it!

So, the inventor of the butter tart is Margaret MacLeod who lived her entire
73 years at or near Hawkestone. It would have been quite a commitment to
volunteer for Royal Victoria Hospital Auxiliary in those days of horse and
buggy transportation.

Beth Mills, who owns Legacy Book Barrie, a second hand and rare book store
in Barrie’s east end, was enthusiastic about her research into the MacLeod
family. She went to two websites to research the MacLeod’s,
and (a project to index all Canadian census

She discovered a death certificate for Malcolm McLeod who died at home (Lot
8, Concession 13, Oro Division) March 10, 1926 at age 73. From Scotland, a
farmer, he was the son of Cameron McLeod and Janette Litster. He lived in
Oro for 43 years. and was buried in Orillia two days after his death. His
wife is identified in his death certificate as Mrs. M. McLeod of RR 1,
Hawkestone. The Census records for 1901 and 1911 show the household of a
Malcon McLeod (note the incorrect spelling). His wife was identified as
Margraet (born in 1855) so likely the census taker wrote that he heard,
ignoring spelling.

The McLeods added six children to Oro township between January 1880 and
1894: Edith M., Jessie A., Mary P., Jennett L., Kenneth C., and Keith O..

In 1911 the Oro census names five of those same children, using their
‘common’ rather than their formal names… Alice, Pearl, Jenet, Keneth, and
Keith. Edith married in Oro but moved to Iowa.

Beth went on to find their marriage registration, and that gives us even
more information about Margaret. Her parents were John and Jessie Litster
and they were Presbyterians. Malcolm and Margaret were married in Oro
September 19, 1883 and their witnesses were his brother and her sister, both
of Oro.

Margaret died December 9, 1928, at nearly 73 years, 28 years after
publication of her butter tart recipe in the RVH Auxiliary cookbook. Cause
of death: old age. She was also buried in Orillia, we assume beside her

The MacLeod family history is well documented. Their youngest son served in
World War I and was an auto mechanic in Rugby. No web-based census records
exist yet for 1921 for Oro but Kenneth may well have returned from the war
and started a family of his own.

Beth concludes her research with a trip through wikipedia’s entry for the
Butter Tart. Short on information, it identifies the butter tart dating
back to 1915. So perhaps Margaret MacLeod’s butter tart is going to vie for
position on wikipedia and RVH Auxiliary cookbook will have another claim to

Beth’s willing to take the next step for that!

Thanks, Beth, for completing the tale.