Some people will go to great lengths to create a wonderful moment for a loved one. Donna Ward, from Eston, Sask., reached out to the Yarmouth library to track down a recipe for her husband’s favourite childhood cake. She wanted to bake it for him as a surprise.

While at work one evening, Yarmouth library clerk River Goodwin-Clairmont received the call from Donna.

“The first thing she said was ‘I have a weird question’ and I got excited because I love a good quest,” says River.

Donna’s husband Lenard bought the cookbook for his mother as a gift when he was 12. His family was visiting Expo ’67 in Montreal at the time, and he found the book in the Nova Scotia pavilion, Donna says.

When his mother died, the cookbook disappeared. Knowing that he loved the cake from that cookbook, Donna began her search. Scouring the Internet, she was unable to find a decent used copy at a reasonable price. She knew the name of the cookbook and that it came from Yarmouth. From there, Donna found the name of the local library, and reached out for help.

“She was able to tell me the name of the cookbook and the recipe,” says River. “The book was the Bluenose Cookbook, originally published in 1965, and the recipe she wanted was called California Cake. She said it was a white cake with some sort of coconut on top. It was a favourite of the person she was hoping to bake it for when he was younger.”

River found the book in the library catalogue while they were on the phone. Promising to call back, River found the book in the library basement.

“I found the book, brought it upstairs, and started looking through it,” River says. “There was no index of recipes, so I was worried at first. The index was only split up by category. Luckily there was a ‘cakes’ section, so I went there and started browsing. And there it was!”

River called Donna back and sent her a copy of the recipe via email.

And how did the surprise and cake-baking go?

“It turned out very well,” Donna says. Needless to say, Lenard enjoyed the cake and the surprise very much.