(H.Moulton Collection, Smiths Falls)
Food was just as expensive for the early settlers as it is now. Baking was often delivered personally to homes by bakers or pastry cooks. Families could prepare their own bread and cakes in their own ovens, or have it baked professionally in a bake house. Cakes were cooked in closed, cast iron ranges by the 1850s. Originally ranges were all coal-based, but then gas versions became available, but were considered very dangerous. The family coal budget was one of the issues that led to making these choices of what to buy from the baker, or make yourself.
In 1835 B. F. Heath of Smiths Falls was listed as opening a bakery at the end of the bridge opposite Ward’s Mills at the corner of Beckwith and Water Street (Chambers Street). It was said that Mr. Heath made bread, biscuits, crackers and other confectioneries that any sweet tooth might demand. It wasn’t cheap-getting supplies, it was difficult, and various grades of flour, classes of butter, and different kinds of sugar, and eggs needed to be fresh and fruit needed to be of the best quality. So bakeries came and went because of the intensive labour, costs and lack of supplies.
To the south of the grist mill in Smiths Falls was once Durant’s Pool Room. The one-storey
frame building which was owned by Mahlon Durant was built in 1909, and an addition was put on later on the back end of the structure. Durant worked for the CPR until he lost an arm in a railroad accident in 1910 and had to retire. Mahlon became a tobacco merchant along with a confectionery store until his death in January of 1932. The building remained there until 1925 when the Old Home Week Committee wanted the land for a park site.
South of Durant’s Pool Room was a bakery. The original construction date is unknown, but Alexander Wood had planned such a building before his death in 1895 and the building must post-date that event. It was a one and one half storey frame building with a small addition on the south end.
The bakery was connected with the grist mill, and for a time it was operated by Mrs. Wood. It was possible the building was removed at the same time as Durant’s Pool Room. Beside the bakery was a double house and across the road from the bakery was a blacksmith shop. No one knows when Mrs. Wood closed down, but she too likely closed for the same reasons as her predecessors.
The bakers and confectionery makers came and went like the wind through the 1800s, but soon Davidson’s Bakery opened in 1890, and brought the use of baking machinery to the area which made baked goods at an economical cost. Once upon a time Davidson’s was the largest commercial bakery in eastern Ontario, and it was a place Smiths Falls local residents could have a lifetime career. They served the area until 1994 when beloved delivery driver Mr. Johnson delivered his last load of bread.
An empty bakeshop on King Street was used by by Kezia Lewis and Margaret McMullen in 1910 who then persuaded the local Methodist church to organize a Sunday School for the young children of the area who were destitute. In 1914 the former bakeshop was vacated and Wesley Hall was built to accommodate the children on the the corner of King and Empress Street. The teachers from Elgin were recorded in the media that because of the Sunday School run by the women some poorer children had a better chance at life.
July 15, 1966
In the 50s and 60s Flann’s Bakery was once a high point in Smiths Falls. Mrs. Flann was oriignally Evelyn Edith Patterson of the Patterson Funeral Home family in Carleton Place, and some locals still remember her today. Darlene Findlay from Darlene’s Café and Bakery on Main Street W. had high hopes in 2009, but once the Smiths Falls Hershey Candy factory closed Findlay was selling fewer of her famous lemon meringue pies and closed.
But tradition continues, and now Smiths Falls has a couple of locally owned bakeries: C’est Tout and Noal Pantry are keeping the area sugar coated and making sure that the local population can have their cake and eat it too.
July 16, 1969
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