CHRONICLES OF A COUPLE OF PINCHER CREEK’S HISTORICAL BAKERIES
By Farley Wuth, Curator,
Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
Copyright, Pincher Creek & District Historical Society
Pincher Creek’s local history has seen many successful place of commerce operate throughout the decades but some are better known historically than others. This article takes a look at two local bakeries which contributed to our business history. They are but a couple of such commercial examples from our past – many more fill the annals of Pincher Creek’s frontier history.
BAKERY/CONFECTIONARY BUSINES OWNED BY THREE PIONEER FAMILIES
One such pioneer business was the MacLeod Bros Bakery and Confectionary which was operated by siblings Andrew and Norman C. Related through marriage to the Hinton Family, the MacLeods also were long associated with the Pincher Creek Operatic Society whose live theatre building was located near the north end of Christie Avenue. Next door was the Hinton’s Hardware Store which later was sold to William Berry and Sons. The MacLeod’s bakery and confectionary business was a going concern during the boom period of the early 1900s, and according to the Henderson’s Directories, still operated under the MacLeod’s name in 1911. It was housed on the main floor of the old Scott Block, situated on the south side of Main Street.
Within a few years, the business was sold to James Milne who had come to Pincher Creek from Coleman in 1910. Milne kept the same location, and baked bread and pastries initially sold through Fournier and Thibault whose confectionary shop also was in the Scott Block. Shortly thereafter, Milne moved his business to a second location but disaster struck in 1920 when the bakery ovens overheated and they as well as the Milnes’ Family residence were destroyed by fire.
Undaunted, James Milne refused to give up the business. He relocated to the old Hudson’s Bay Company store which had been constructed circa 1890 just east of what was to become the King Edward Hotel location. This was the Company’s second building on this site, the first being the old Schofield and Hyde Store that dated back to 1883. Here, Milne continued to accompany the bakery business with a confectionary. The wider business arrangement ensured a steady clientele stream.
By 1923 or 1924, Milne again moved his place of business, this time to the former Dick Hinton Store. According to the 1924 Henderson’s Directory, Milne’s son John assisted his father by clerking in the bakery and confectionary. John Milne became quite active in the community, serving with the Pincher Creek Fire Department for 29 years starting in 1925 -- sixteen of these years were spent as Fire Chief.
It appears that James Milne sold his bakery and confectionary business in the late 1920s to the Craig Family. Milne then retired to Vancouver. A glass confectionary jar, square in shape and accompanied by a lid and reminiscent of Milne’s business, is now one of the valued artifacts housed at the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village.
PINCHER CREEK BAKERY OF THE NASON FAMILY
Also of historical interest was the Pincher Creek Bakery which was owned by the Nason Family during the Great Depression. Through the family’s hard work they ensured that this was a thriving place of business in spite of tough times. Established in February 1930 by George E. Nason (1880 – 1933), this local businessman had been a native of New Brunswick who as an adult spent nearly a quarter of a century in the Canadian West. George had three brothers Marshall, Tom, and Marvin and a sister Ida. Four children, two sons and two daughters, were born to Mr. and Mrs. George Nason after he had moved west.
This Main Street business did a flourishing trade under George Nason’s proprietorship. George’s early passing on New Year’s Day 1933, following an illness of two months, however did not bring an end to this local enterprise. His brother Marvin had shown an interest in business affairs and with the family’s blessing took over the reigns of active management of the Pincher Creek Bakery. A display advertisement on the front page of The Pincher Creek Echo for Friday, 12th January 1933 informed the reading public of the changes at the bakery. Marvin Mason promised to serve the community “the very best bread and pastry”, all baked directly on site. What was promoted as “business men’s and light lunches” was aimed at attracting additional clientele into the shop on a regular basis. Some three weeks later, a second Pincher Creek Bakery ad aptly claimed that “bread of the finest quality” was being baked at the shop, and that the bread sold for only six cents per loaf. Nason’s motto was “one price to all”. The bakery also boasted “a splendid variety of excellent pastry and meat pies”. Many a passerby would have been sorely tempted by the aroma of the baking which often drifted out from the kitchen located at the rear of the building.
Each of these businesses made an interesting contribution to Pincher Creek’s business history.
Sources: Adapted from “Pincher Creek”, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer And Directory 1911, Calgary: Henderson’s Directories Ltd., 1911, p. 745 – 754; “Pincher Creek”, Henderson’s Alberta Gazetteer And Directory 1924, Calgary: Henderson’s Directories Ltd., 1924, pp. 541 – 544; “Bakery And Confectionary Store Changes Hands”, The Pincher Creek Echo, Vol. XXIX, No. 11, Friday, 12th October 1928, p. ; “P.C. Bakery Installing New $1500.00 Oven”, The Pincher Creek Echo, Vol. XXIX, No. 19, Friday, 07th December 1928, p. ; [P.C. Bakery Advertizement], The Pincher Creek Echo, Vol. XXIX, No. 23, Friday, 04th January 1929, p. ; “Pincher Creek Bakery Doing Good Business Again”, The Pincher Creek Echo, Vol. XXIX, No. 43, Friday, 24th May 1929, p. ; [Nason Bakery Advertizement], The Pincher Creek Echo, Friday, 12th January 1933, p. ; and Pincher Creek and District Historical Society, Cataloguing Database re Milne Family.