Scones from Ottawa's past

A new exhibition called Morsels of Memory brings together food-related stories and artifacts from Watson's Mill, the Goulbourn Museum and the Diefenbunker.

Scones made with locally produced flour

(Rebecca Friend)

A new exhibition called Morsels of Memory brings together food-related stories and artifacts from Watson's Mill, the Goulbourn Museum and the Diefenbunker. 

This homage to some of Ottawa's food history was put together by students from Carleton University's curatorial studies program, with support from the Ottawa Museum Network. 

One of the student curators, Rebecca Friend, recreated an old recipe for scones, which uses flour still milled at Watson's Mill.

"The flavour test was me eating one right out of the oven.… They were very delicious. I would say I was a bit concerned because that was the first time I ever baked with lard before," Friend told CBC Radio's Alan Neal.

Friend added she was concerned she didn't have a mixing bowl large enough to accommodate the eight cups of flour that were called for.

For Friend, the large quantities in the recipe suggest the baker was cooking for crowds and sharing with community members. 

The exhibit focuses on the strengths of each participating museum: food production to incorporate Watson's Mill's collection, food in the community to discuss agriculture at the Goulbourn Museum, and food preparedness and stockpiling from the Diefenbunker.

One aspect of local food history that isn't represented is the Indigenous contribution. The curators acknowledge agriculture didn't begin in the Ottawa area with European settlers, and that the Algonquin were already growing squash, rice and beans here long before. But the participating museums just didn't have the resources to incorporate that aspect of local history.

The exhibit gets underway March 30 and runs until April 11 at Gallery 112, inside the James Bartleman Archives and Library Materials Centre, located at 100 Tallwood Dr. in Nepean.

This classic scone recipe was supplied by Georgette de Boer, baker at the Miller's Oven, located on Mill Street in Manotick.

Miller's Oven Scones


  • 2 cups Watson's Mill flour.
  • 6 cups all purpose, unbleached white flour.
  • 8 tsp baking powder.
  • 4 tbsp sugar.
  • 2 cups sour cream.
  • 1 tsp salt.
  • 1 lb. lard.
  • 6 eggs.


  1. Mix flours, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  2. Cut in lard until mixture is consistency of fine crumbs.
  3. Mix sour cream and eggs and blend into the flour mixture.
  4. Turn onto floured board and knead.
  5. Roll out to half inch thick.
  6. Cut into rounds using a cookie cutter or top of a drinking glass.
  7. Place on an non-greased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 F.