Bakers Journal

Editor’s Letter: January-February 2017

February 1, 2017
By Doug Picklyk


This year Canada is throwing a year-long party to celebrate 150 years of Confederation, and whenever there’s a birthday you know there has to be a bakery involved somehow.

Baking in this country certainly predates confederation. With a little digging I discovered that early settlers in Eastern Canada began attempts at cultivating wheat in the early 1600s, with the first water-powered flour mill operating in Nova Scotia as early as 1607.

With flour production, people were able to make bread in their homes, and by the time our nation’s founders were finalizing the details in 1867, commercial bakeries were producing bread, cakes, and buns in large wood-fired brick or stone ovens.

As a testament to the ability of those ovens to endure the test of time, in this issue we visit Culbert’s Bakery in Goderich, Ont., where current owner Darin Culbert presides over the company’s brick oven, which has been operating since 1877.


There is a proud history of baking in this country, and some of the largest industrial bakeries set their foundations over a century ago. Weston Bakeries dates back to 1882 when George Weston bought his first bread route from his employer, G.H. Bowen, and two years later he bought out the bakery, eventually renaming it G. Weston’s Bread Factory. Multi-Marques, the largest bakery in Quebec (now part of Canada Bread – owned by Grupo Bimbo) dates back to 1890.

I’m certain there are plenty of other examples of longevity in the baking industry across the country. For example, Blak’s Bakery in Windsor, Ont., will be turning 99 this year, with big plans for celebrating its centennial in 2018. Blak’s has been in the same family and location since it was founded in 1918.

A couple of shops turning 85 in 2017 include Lanthier Bakery in Alexandria, Ont., and Smiths Bakery in Halifax. Two more shops where the birthday cakes will be extra special this year.

I must say it has been a pleasure for me to spend my time over the past year learning about Canada’s bakery industry and meeting the fantastic people who keep it thriving. Sadly, this is my final issue as editor of Bakers Journal—which, for the record, has been reporting on the Canadian baking industry for more than 76 years.

Although I am moving to another assignment within our publishing company, I’m happy to announce the return of Brian Hartz, who will be taking on the editor’s role for the months ahead.

With this theme of celebration, I would also like to remind you that Bakers Journal is once again searching for Canada’s most innovative and creative baking business to honour with the Jake the Baker Award. It’s free to enter, and all the details can be found at

I wish all the best to every baking industry reader out there. There have been bakers supporting the foundation of this country from its beginnings, and whether your business is old or new, that’s a tradition worth celebrating.

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