Belonging Cookbook: Elizabeth's Date Square Recipe

written by Elizabeth Rahman and Sonja Barker
Date Squares

This recipe has special meaning for me, since it came from a dear old lady we met when we were newcomers to Canada, in the late 1960s. She lived next door to us, and we called her “Granny Rose”. Granny Rose had no children of her own; she treated us as family and always shared her baking with us. Our favourite was her date squares, and they came to symbolize our acceptance and belonging in our adopted country.

Over the years, date squares have come to be a mainstay at our family gatherings, and at community gatherings. My passion is working in the multifaith community, and whenever we have a potluck dinner or similar gathering, I make date squares.

To me they represent the coming together of various cultures - dates remind me of the Middle East, where my faith is rooted; sugar of the islands in the West Indies; butter of the dairy farms of England, where I was born; flour of the red fife wheat that was introduced to Peterborough county by David Fife; and oats remind me of the Quaker Oats factory right here in Peterborough. Dates symbolize my connection and belonging to several communities across culture, time, and space.

Beyond that, dates are rich in various vitamins & minerals. Muslims break their fast during Ramadan with dates, since they are high in nutritional value.
This recipe is simple – and delicious!


Granny Rose’s Date Squares


¾ cup butter or margarine at room temperature (not soft margarine)       
1 lb. dates
1 ¾ cups rolled oats      
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1 ½ cups flour (wholewheat or white)
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda


1. To make filling, put dates, sugar & cinnamon in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer until thick (keep stirring so it doesn’t burn).
2. Crumble the rest of the ingredients together. Take out 1 cup and reserve for top.
3. Press rest on bottom of a greased 13 x 8 pan.
4. Spread on date paste, then sprinkle cup of crumbs on top.
5. Bake at 325° F for 30 minutes.