A Little Slice on Cabot Bakery.
When it comes to bread you have homemade bread and you have store baked bakers bread, once upon a time in Grand Falls-Windsor you had a third type of bread: Cabot Bakery bread. Cabot bakery bread wasn’t quite homemade bread, but it was far superior to any wonder type mass produced bread you see on shelves today. Once upon a time Cabot bread could be found on store shelves all over Grand Falls and Windsor.
Lorenzo (Sandy) Moore came to Grand Falls from Change Islands during the infancy of the town. He managed to gain employment with the A.N.D Company store-back when they had a company store. When the war broke out he enlisted in the Newfoundland Regiment. He went overseas and eventually attained the rank of Lieutenant. In the Spring of 1918 during the big German offensive of that year Lt. Moore was leading C Company of the Newfoundland Regiment when he was wounded in the neck and taken prisoner (Nicholson, The Fighting Newfoundlander).He spent the remaining months of the War in a German POW camp. After his release he came back to Grand Falls.
When Sandy Moore returned to Grand Falls after the war he got back on with the A.N.D Co who put him in charge of running Erin House, one of the two company owned hotels in town at the time. He later ran the Cabot House. During his time running the Cabot House his wife Olivia started baking for the customers. Her baked goods started to make a name around town. So naturally she started to make a few items to sell outside of the hotel. This lead to the Moore’s opening a small lunch counter which proved so successful it expanded into a restaurant.[i]
I guess when people asked where Mrs. Moore’s baked goods came from, a person naturally, because they originated from the bakery of the Cabot House answered “from the Cabot Bakery” and I guess that is how the name stuck. The Cabot Bakery bake Shop was located on the lower end of High Street and its opening in 1939 proved to be a case of good timing. The coming of the Second World War led to an influx of servicemen to Botwood and Gander. These servicemen frequently visited Grand Falls, since it was the nearest large town to their bases. The Bake Shop on High Street proved popular with them because it was one of the few places they could get a soda, a hamburger or a milkshake. And it wasn’t just soldiers who darkened the door of the bakeshop during the war. Celebrities entertaining the troops such as Bob Hope are known to have also visited.[ii]
The Bake Shop operated for over twenty years and many older residents fondly remember Miss Sally Spicer who ran the counter there. In 1950 The restaurant boasted a soda fountain and seating for 70 customers.[iii] Because of this, in its time the Bake Shop was a popular hangout for teenagers and many a first date must have occurred there.
Sandy Moore passed away in 1954 leaving his son John with the responsibility of running the Cabot Bakery. John Moore concentrated his efforts more on the mass production and distribution side. Eventually by 1963 the restaurant was phased out and the Cabot Bakery was transformed into a wholesale supplier of bread and baked goods with a small bake shop operation where customers could buy freshly baked items. In 1969 the Cabot Bakery moved to a new and more modern facility on new and modern Cromer Avenue. A location that it would remain until Cabot Bakery closed in the 1990’s.[iv]
During this time most of the grocery stores in the area did not have their own bakeries. So chances are if your mother did not bake bread regularly she probably picked up a loaf of Cabot bread for the kitchen table. The bread was delivered in large vans which according to Grand Falls-Windsor: The Place and It’s People were sometimes used for other purposes. According to an interview done in about 2005 for the above mentioned book a few expectant mothers were rushed to the hospital in the back of a Cabot Bakery Truck, giving new meaning to a “bun in the oven!.” [v]
Not only did Cabot Bakery supply most of the stores with bread, they also gave employment to a large number of people over the years, some of whom such as Lionel Sooley, took their skills and set up bakeries in other places.
There was also a time when the Cabot Bakery was the only place in town that you could get a doughnut! It is hard to imagine that even though we live in Canada there wasn’t a Tim Horton’s in Grand Falls-Windsor until the 1990’s. There were a couple of coffee shops that came and went (and had doughnuts) but as a child the Cabot Bakery was the only place in town that I knew of that you could get a doughnut! Then there were the big oatmeal cookies. They were delivered to GFA Primary School every day and were a common recess treat when I was a little kid.
Despite the popularity of Cabot Bread and baked goods, the 1990’s ushered in change that made it hard for the small local bakery to compete. Both Sobey’s and Dominion added bakeries to their stores cutting a large amount from Cabot’s wholesale business. By 1996 the Cabot Bakery was closed.[vi]
Cabot Bakery has now been gone for close to twenty years, but I would wager to say that the bread is still missed by many residents of the area.
[i] If Memory serves me correctly the old Cabot Bakery bag used to say Est: 1939.
[ii] A Family Affair Decks Awash 1988
[iii] Atlantic Guardian http://collections.mun.ca/PDFs/guardian/AG_V06N12.pdf
[v] Grand Falls-Windsor: The Place and It’s People Robinson Blackmore, 2005 page 180
[vi] The Co-op had a bakery for a longer period if memory serves me correctly.