Parks Canada Heritage Gourmet Recipes

Clam Chowder

A filling soup that just needs bread to make a whole meal.

Clam Chowder

Origin: HMCS Haida National Historic Site
Region: Ontario
Period: 20th Century - present
Course: Soups and Starters

Photo of baker in galley of HMCS Haida with many loaves of bread Photo of baker in galley of HMCS Haida with many loaves of bread
© Parks Canada

Food was filling but not fancy aboard HMCS Haida. A small galley just 10 feet wide and 12 feet long housed 3 or 4 cooks who prepared food for up to 200 sailors. HMCS Haida, like most Commonwealth ships of the day, used a technique called broadside messing when it was time to feed the crew. A group of 6-8 sailors was assigned to a table and one sailor was delegated to walk to the galley and bring back the food for everyone. Sounds easy, but try carrying a tray of hot food in a rolling sea, up ladders or down hatches!

In an interview, one of the sailors of HMCS Haida said he remembered the clam chowder fondly, for while “each day ran into the next aboard a ship, when you got clam chowder you always knew it was Friday.”

Clam Chowder


  • Approx 1 lb | 400 g fresh clams or 6 oz | 142 g canned (one can of clams)
  • 1 quart | 1 litre water
  • 7 oz | 200 g onions, sliced
  • 14 oz | 400 g potatoes, sliced
  • 2.5 oz | 70 g salt pork
  • 2 oz | 50 g flour
  • 7 fl oz | 200 ml milk
  • 2 tsp | 10 g salt
  • 1 tbsp | 15 g thyme
  • Navy or soda biscuits, whole


  • Clean fresh clams thoroughly. Put clams in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring quickly to the boil and then strain off the liquid into another saucepan. Remove clams from their shells, beard them and then chop them coarsely.
  • Fry the diced pork over a low heat. Add the onions and cook until they are lightly browned. Add the potatoes and the clam liquid and cook until the potatoes are nearly tender.
  • Blend the flour and milk and strain into the mixture, stirring as you add. Cook for 5 minutes. Add thyme and salt; cook for 6 minutes longer. Add the chopped clams. Serve the chowder with whole navy or soda biscuits.


Recipe tested by Chef David Fairbanks, Algonquin College School of Hospitality and Tourism

This recipe comes from the book The R.C.N. Recipe Manual, published in May 1948.

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