Bakers Journal

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Cross-country fare

A tour of some of Canada’s best bakeries


August 19, 2021
By Bakers Journal staff

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Bakeries are Canada’s most profitable industry: Farm Credit Canada’s statistics indicate that bakeries employ over 49,000 Canadians and generates five billion dollars in GDP annually. According to Statistic Canada, bakeries represent the second largest food manufacturing sector; bakeries are the fastest growing food sector, with an average annual GDP growth rate of 5.4 per cent since 2015: Bakeries were not as badly affected by the pandemic as other industries. In fact, during the peak of the lockdown, bakeries experience a boom not previously seen in the last twenty years, as more consumers sought comfort foods during uncomfortable times. 

To celebrate our creativity and culinary contributions to the country, Bakers Journal is saluting bakeries from coast to coast. This is not a “best of” list, but aims to highlight bakeries for their contributions to the baking industry and their ingenuity in marketing or packaging to keep their business running during the pandemic. Many have not only thrived, but managed to help out their community during this difficult time. Keep in mind, this is not a full representation of every province, but we welcome more stories about your favourite pastry shop, break bakery or café. Bakers Journal welcomes readers to submit their favourite baked goods provider to editor@bakersjournal.com

Newfoundland: Manna Bakery
This bakery’s slogan sounds like the name should be ‘Mamma’s Bakery’: “Food With Heart. Made With Care. EAT!”’ This family owned bakery has adapted to the pandemic with its easy to select take-home kits: The “Isolation Kit” includes two loaves of bread (white and whole wheat), three types of cheese and three types of deli meats for DIY sandwiches for quick lunches or easy-going suppers. The same kit takes care of clients’ breakfast or snacking needs: Six assorted baked goods can include muffins and tea buns, six cookies and squares, and 200g of coffee.

Nova Scotia:  Masstown Market
If you’re in the Nova Scotia area, you might be familiar with the Masstown Market Bakery, whose pies have been featured at the local Wild Blueberry Harvest pie eating contest in Truro, NS.

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The bakery has grown from a small-scale production line in the early 1970s, with only one or two bakers and turning out a few basic products at a time. The bakery since grew to a much larger facility built in 2010, currently employing over 20 people and turning out hundreds of products daily. 

The bakery is particularly proud of its sustainable Atlantic Seafood Pies, which have become customer favorites thanks to their own chef. 

Masstown Market’s Bakery takes care of its local community throughout the year with donations of specialty decorated sheet cakes to volunteer groups, bread and rolls to community suppers, homestyle donuts or cinnamon rolls to hospitality events for 4-H. hockey teams, legion events and much more.   

New Brunswick: Dinah’s Sourdough
Dinah’s Sourdough is named after Dinah, a nine-year-old, organic, whole rye sourdough starter who only eats flour from Speerville Flour Mill in New Brunswick. Dan Corbett, the bakery owner wears many hats as the baker, accountant, marketing executive and pianist. Corbett makes ten varieties of organic sourdough bread with a focus on heritage whole grains. The bakery is known for its humour and heart: Its “July 1st Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Fundraiser” acknowledges the difficult history of Canada: “we sold $20 organic Strawberry Rhubarb pies with half the revenue going to Indspire,” said Corbett in his Inspirational Bakery entry. Indspire is a nationally registered charity that that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, by disbursing financial awards, delivering programs, and sharing resources with the goal of increasing graduation rates for Indigenous students.

Prince Edward Island: Bryson Family Bakery
This waste-free bakery nestled in Charlottetown, PEI is attached to the family’s farm home. It started just one year before the pandemic hit, and has two tenets it continues to live by: to highlight local and Canadian ingredients and to advocate for environmental sustainability.

The bakery uses a zero-low waste model of operation. Prior to the pandemic, they were phasing out plastic use in their bakery with compostable options; the Bryson Family Bakery encouraged its clients to bring their own reusable containers to the farmer’s markets where they would fill them for customers. Since COVID, their breads can be found at Coopers Red & White. 

Quebec: DoughNats Bakery
Owner Nathalie Kaspy-Shtern (or Chef Nat) turned from criminology to baking, and tries to make the world a better place “one DoughNat at a time.” Kaspy-Shtern has been part of school fundraisers since its opening. The bakery have sells DoughNats at a discount to allow the schools to re-sell for events like Mo-vember and graduation fundraisers. Chef Nat believes “Sharing is Caring” and delivered DoughNats to front line health workers for every Montreal hospital. “We do so on a regular basis, randomly, and ensure that all hospitals are included. If ever we have anything left over, we deliver them directly to the emergency room staff from various local hospitals.”

Ontario: Terra Cotta Foods
Fundraising manager for Terra Cotta Foods, Kym Taal confesses that the company’s typical fundraising business was cut down significantly because of school closures, but adds “we still found ways to help many groups reach their fundraising goals. In a usual year we help about 2500 schools fund raise through cookie sales and cookie dough fundraisers. This year we pivoted to help other groups…many of them were local to the community we live in, but others were spread far and wide across the GTA.” Taal adds that the bakery feels “it’s important to stay connected to our community and give back where we can.” 

Manitoba: Upper Crust Bakery
This Selkirk landmark is known for its cinnamon buns, but its list of dainties keep its list of clients coming back. They’ve added pickles, veggies and fruit since the pandemic began, citing their slogan, “We’ll be there for you.” The family owned and operated bakery has been in business for over twenty-five years, and is opening up a catering service soon, to expand its services further.

Saskatchewan: Howard’s Bakery
Featured in the Globe & Mail after it was voted Best Bakery in Saskatchewan in 2013, this bakery is still going strong. When you’re in the heart of wheat-growing country, bakeries can really bring out their best, and Maple, SK’s Howard’s Bakery pulls out all the stops. “If you can think of it, we can decorate it” says the company’s website. The tearoom offers a breakfast and lunch menu, and they offer cakes for all occasions.   

Alberta: Best in The West
This Spruce Grove bakery helps out its local communities by donating baked goods to the women’s shelter and the youth shelter. Best in The West also donated fresh donuts to the local RCMP detachments as a token to them for keeping our communities safe, and also donated donuts to the local Fire Departments. The bakery organized youth to sing for those in the homeless shelter and handed out fresh cinnamon rolls.

The bakery helped a local Lions Club for their auction to raise money by donating baked to help others in Spruce Grove.

British Columbia: Portofino Bakery
This Victoria, BC-based has been in operation since 2004 and has historically been active in giving back to the community, through donations to local food banks and supporting local farmers. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves in a lucky position to continue operating in order to keep our local grocery stores stocked with Portofino products and families fed. Given we are in this fortunate position, we have ramped up our community support programs, said Matt Cimon, President and CEO of Portofino Bakery. “We have also donated products to Backpack Buddies, a BC-based charity that provides thousands of meals each month to hungry children and focuses on raising awareness around childhood hunger.”

Can you think of a bakery you would like to see on this list? Send Bakers Journal an email with your suggestion. We love to hear from bakeries around the world. / BJ