Based on account books, a frequently overlooked type of source, this is a study of grocery purchases made by sample customers from some country stores in Upper Canada (Ontario), in selected years between 1808 and 1861. Although literary sources suggest otherwise, no one bought chocolate; but many people bought tea, tobacco, sugar, and salt, evidently at standard levels for contemporary British society. As time went by, a growing range of products appear among purchases, notably many drugs and medications. The evidence is also read for indications of what families made for themselves. Their choices, visible in everyday routine purchases, have implications for some of the main stories about material life, consumption, and market relationships in early settlement society. It is difficult, for example, to picture rural isolation from a capitalist world if ordinary farm families regularly purchased goods imported from the far side of the globe.

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