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Cooking Tips for Desperate Fishwives

An Island Memoir

by (author) Margot Fedoruk

Heritage House Publishing
Initial publish date
Oct 2022
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2022
    List Price

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Winner, Silver - Culinary Narratives, Taste Canada Awards 2023


Part love story, part survival story, part meditation on family dysfunction, this offbeat memoir chronicles the unpredictable life of a young wife and mother on Gabriola Island.



In 1989, twenty-three-year-old Margot Fedoruk left Winnipeg and her volatile Slavic-Jewish family for the wilds of BC to work as a tree planter and to contemplate her mother’s untimely death from cancer. There, she met Rick Corless, a burly, red-headed sea urchin diver, and soon found herself pregnant and cooking vegetarian meals for meat-eating divers on Rick’s boat, The Buckaroo, as they travelled along the rugged northern BC coastline.

Eventually, the unlikely couple settled on Gabriola Island to raise two girls, dig for clams, keep chickens, clean houses, and make soap to sell at the local market. As she washed windows with stunning ocean views, Margot also wiped away lonely tears, determined not to repeat the same mistakes as she had witnessed during her parents’ marriage made in hell. Through dark humour, vivid descriptions, and quirky characters, Margot’s reflections on marriage, motherhood, isolation, food, and family paint an unforgettable portrait of a modern-day fishwife left behind to keep the home fires burning. True to its title, Cooking Tips for Desperate Fishwives is a memoir infused with recipes, from the hearty Eastern European fare of Margot’s childhood to more adventurous coastal BC cuisine.

About the author

Margot Fedoruk is a writer, book reviewer and entrepreneur, whose work has been published in the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, BC BookWorld, Ormbsy Review, and Portal. She holds a BA from the University of Winnipeg and a BA from Vancouver Island University where she majored in Creative Writing. She was awarded the Barry Broadfoot Award for creative nonfiction and journalism and a Meadowlarks Award for fiction, both from VIU. She has a personal blog called Death Defying Acts of Living and an instructional soapmaking blog called Wash Rinse Repeat. For more information, visit

Margot Fedoruk's profile page


  • Winner, Taste Canada Awards, Silver - Culinary Narratives

Editorial Reviews

"An engrossing memoir about sea-urchin divers, the lightning bolt of first love, and the loneliness of a long-distance marriage."
—Jan Wong, award-winning author of Apron Strings: Navigating Food and Family in France, Italy, and China

"By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, a timid girl from Winnipeg’s North End becomes a boisterous, eloquent West Coaster. Margot Fedoruk inherits fiercely resilient genes from her Big and Little Babas. Read on to discover how an unstoppable zest for living transformed a haphazard upbringing. And for her drool-worthy recipes!"
—Caroline Woodward, bestselling author of Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper

“Margot Fedoruk asks herself: “Is this a normal way to live? Would I choose this life again?” and you can’t help but read on, waiting for the answer.”
—Jack Knox, bestselling humourist and author of Fortune Knox Once: More Musings from the Edge

“Margot Fedoruk plunges the reader into island life: love, sex, marriage, children, community, ferries, food, and the ocean itself. Intimate and funny, her story is also a testament to the vast amount of work women do, including the (unpaid) emotional and domestic. It will build your appetite—and fortunately the recipes are first-rate.”
—Kathy Page, Rogers Writers' Trust award-winning author of Dear Evelyn

"In Margot Fedoruk's exquisite memoir, longing hangs in the air like an unidentified fragrance—longing for an intact family, longing for the perfect love. When she finally achieves some version of both, you will want to cheer her on. And you'll want to taste-test the tantalizing recipes she offers along the way, too."
—Frank Moher, award-winning playwright, journalist, and media critic

“These are stories of hard separations and cold beers, of surviving the choices we make, and of forging home on a small island in the Pacific Northwest “surrounded by green so dark that it soaked up the sun.” And the recipes? Shared like secrets between the closest of friends after just enough wine and just the right shade of twilight.”
—Amber McMillan, author of The Woods: A Year on Protection Island

“A beautifully-crafted, passionate celebration of the power and the pain of the bonds of family, a fierce, devoted marriage, and the way that food ties into memory, heritage, and being. The fusion of memoir and recipes is utterly enticing, and it may be cliched to say it, but I truly devoured the book in one sitting!”
—Sheryl Normandeau, author of The Little Prairie Book of Berries

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