OT­TAWA’S OLD­EST HOME and most beloved sis­ters

Ottawa Business Journal - Ottawa at Home - - LIVING STEP INSIDE - WRIT­TEN BY VERA CODY • PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY MARK HOLLERON

Sis­ters Grete Hale and Gay Cook are two of Ot­tawa’s most ac­com­plished and beloved icons. As two of the four Mor­ri­son daugh­ters, they were taught by their fa­ther (who started Ot­tawa’s first bak­ery in 1911 and co-founded the Mor­ri­son-Lamothe Bak­ery) to con­tinue his tra­di­tion of ser­vice to the com­mu­nity. Ce­cil’s deathbed wish was for his daugh­ters to be con­trib­u­tors and they have hon­oured his words with pas­sion and com­mit­ment.

Re­cently, they were both awarded the Mayor’s City Builder Award to ac­knowl­edge their sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the bet­ter­ment of Ot­tawa with their work and tire­less vol­un­teer­ing for nu­mer­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions. Gay’s pas­sion for cook­ing has taken her all over the world and is show­cased in her book, Mrs. Cook’s Kitchen: Basics and Be­yond. Grete’s sto­ry­telling skills were cap­tured in her book, Baker’s Daugh­ter: The Story of a Long, Rich and Very Cana­dian Life.

Th­ese two en­er­getic go-get­ters be­lieve sis­ters are God’s great­est in­ven­tion and vow to never stop learn­ing, trav­el­ling or be­ing thank­ful for their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. Liv­ing in the same her­itage home where they grew up, Grete and Gay are sur­rounded by mem­o­ries and fam­ily his­tory. The ex­panded and re­stored stone farm­house, built by Scots­man Ge­orge Bayne 185 years ago, is rec­og­nized as Ot­tawa’s old­est home. WHAT WAS IT LIKE GROW­ING UP IN THIS HOME?

Grete: this was such a

• won­der­ful and busy house­hold. There were al­ways peo­ple around our din­ing room ta­ble. We were sur­rounded by car­ing Cana­di­ans and that started right here in our fam­ily. Our par­ents had a love af­fair that lasted un­til they died. We did things to­gether as a united fam­ily and there were such happy days here. WHAT DO YOU EN­JOY DO­ING TO­GETHER?

Grete: cook­ing for guests and our fam­ily. We auc­tion gourmet din­ners for our char­i­ties where Gay cooks and I serve. There is so much his­tory to this house and guests love to ask ques­tions and lis­ten to sto­ries about the fam­ily. It cre­ates a lovely at­mos­phere. WHY DE­CIDE TO REN­O­VATE THE KITCHEN?

The kitchen used to be in the base­ment. There was a dumb­waiter that went up into the pantry to bring up the food. Mother planned to build what she called a de­cent kitchen, but my fa­ther was wiped out in the De­pres­sion and there was no money to build it. Twenty five years ago, my late hus­band Reg and I used our sav­ings to build a kitchen in her mem­ory. Last year we felt it was get­ting a lit­tle dowdy and made the joint de­ci­sion to up­date it be­cause we love to en­ter­tain and the kitchen is the heart of the home. HOW IM­POR­TANT IS THE BACK­YARD GAR­DEN?

Gay: mother cre­ated the rock gar­den 80 years ago and there are ap­ple and pear trees on the prop­erty. Our sis­ter Jean Pig­ott planted a horse ch­est­nut tree here on her wed­ding day. The gar­den is or­ganic – with many va­ri­eties of herbs used in my recipes. I en­joy sit­ting near the fish pond and look­ing at the beauty of my mother’s gar­den­ing vi­sion. She sup­ported Ot­tawa char­i­ties by giv­ing them grounds ac­cess for their sum­mer tours. 10,000 vis­i­tors would come through ev­ery year. WHAT LEGACY WOULD YOU LIKE FOR YOUR HOME?

Grete: It is a home first and fore­most. We trust our fam­i­lies will make the de­ci­sions to­gether for who­ever comes next. It is im­por­tant to have a car­ing fam­ily around you. Love is the oil, the grease. It is the magic of liv­ing.

Grete and Gay pre­pare for a lun­cheon

The orig­i­nal well

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