Local History Advent Calendar 2019 – Day 14 – The Woman’s Bakery

Last year I took on the challenge of the first-ever Local History Advent Calendar! For 24 days in a row, I presented random historical tidbits I’d collected over the previous year and presented them in the form of “treats” for my 2018 Local History Advent Calendar. This year, the “Heart of Mount Pleasant” was number 1 on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Watch List for 2019. So I decided to choose Mount Pleasant as the theme for the Vanalogue Local History Advent Calendar for 2019. Each day you can “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Mount Pleasant history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

The Woman’s Bakery On Main Street in Mount Pleasant, 1935. Photo: Vancouver Sun, Feb. 2, 1935

In the last century, bread was very much the staple of our diet. There were bakeries all over the city and Mount Pleasant had its fair share of them. But, there is one bakery in particular that stands out… The Woman’s Bakery.

The_Vancouver_Sun_Sat__Feb_2__1935_-1
Sarah Coulter – “the Woman”

The Woman’s Bakery started in 1905 in a small building at the south-east corner of Main Street and 6th Avenue. Mr. & Mrs. Coulter arrived in the city in 1905 and shortly after settling in Mount Pleasant they opened their bakery business. The Woman’s Bakery was one of the few female-owned and run businesses in the city. Mrs. Sarah Coulter was the baker, and Mr. Allan C. Coulter did the merchandising. As the story goes, when the bakery first opened it had no specific name. Soon the bread and cakes that baker Sarah Coulter produced earned a favourable reputation in the neighbourhood (and eventually beyond). So, when guests started asking their hosts where they got such delicious baked goods, the host would simply reply “at the woman’s bakery”. Eventually, the name, “The Woman’s Bakery”, stuck and was adopted.

A branch of the Woman’s Bakery on Granville Street in 1927. Photo: CoV Archives, Bu P633

As the popularity of their product grew, so did the business. By 1915 there were three branches of the bakery, in addition to the main store, and a bread factory at 66 West 4th Avenue. Ten years later, there were 17 locations in the city:

The_Vancouver_Sun_Sat__Dec_4__1926_
Christmas advert for The Woman’s Bakery. Source: Vancouver Sun, Dec 4, 1926

 

The Woman’s Bakery continued as a family business even after the Coulters retired in 1924. Sarah Coulter’s cousin, James Chester Brault, bought The Woman’s Bakery in 1924. Like the Coulters, the Braults ran the business together; Mr. Brault was the “master baker” and Mrs. Grace Brault was in the business manager. The Brault’s also introduced confections to the bakery’s repertoire under the brand name Brault’s Chocolates.

Vancouver_Daily_World_Wed__Aug_12__1908_
Vancouver Daily World, Wednesday, August 12, 1908.

Woman’s Bakery Ltd. continued operations in until at least the 1970s, however, by that time it was under the umbrella of Canada Food Products Ltd.


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