The scaffolding is up and the old Weston Bakery Building at 666 Elgin, at Sherbrook, is ready to come down to make way for a new Women's Hospital, (also). When Weston made a land trade with the province in 2009 that saw it head for the suburbs it ended over a century of bread baking on that corner. Here is a look back !
In 1900 things were not well in Winnipeg's baking circles.
There was labour unrest at the bakeries and problems within the union ranks between master bakers and bakery workers.
Allegations of price fixing, price gouging and short-weighting of measurements were leveled at some city bakeries. This caused the city to step in to regulate the size and price of this most basic commodity. A basic white loaf was to be 32 ounces and sold for 6.25 cents each. After that initial price was set it was up to bakeries to self-regulate the price. In 1905, for instance, they voted to raise it to 7 cents per loaf due to higher flour prices.
In 1902 a group formed within the Winnipeg Cooperative Society to build a bakery that would offer quality, low-cost baked goods and fair, union wages to employees. The Society, whose offices would be housed at the bakery, later branched out into other consumer products such as fuel.
The location they chose was a few feet from Elgin and Nena (now Sherbrook) and on November 25th at 8 pm a grand opening was held. Within a couple of years additional ovens were added and 15 varieties of bread were being delivered across the city.
In 1910 the Cooperative Bakery merged with the Crane and Davis Bakery at 765 Dufferin. A few years later it moved to the site of the Maple Leaf bakery at 277 Dufferin and in 1923 went into receivership.
The Voice, May 1, 1903
The Voice, May 1, 1903
The Elgin Street site was bought by the duo of J.T. Spiers and Edward Parnell. Both men already had bakeries of their own but decided to join forces to create the Spiers Parnell Bakery Company.
|Speirs Parnell Bakery on Elgin ca. 1911|
The Speirs - Parnell partnership may have been spurred on by a baker in Toronto by the name of George Weston of Weston Bakery founded in 1882 .
In 1911 Weston created Canada Bread and went on an amalgamation spree, snapping up bakeries in places like Montreal and Winnipeg. The local bakeries were allowed to retain their separate identity and their product line as long as they did not compete with the basic loaf product offered by the parent company. Speirs - Parnell became part of that Weston network.
In 1923 the bakery underwent a multi-storey addition on its west side. The new plant was able to bake 120,000 loaves per year, employed 200 people and had a delivery fleet of 90 trucks.
The Speirs Parnell name remained a fixture in Winnipeg until 1943 when it was rechristened Weston Bread and Cake Limited.
In 1953 a fire destroyed the baking area on the east side of the complex. The company increased production at other local plants to make up for the loss until they could rebuild.