The Fine Art of Traditional Baking
In September 1946, Helen and Alan Hamilton boarded a train from Stratford to Watford, Ont. Alan had received his certificate in Bakery Arts from Ryerson College. The education had been provided by the Veteran’s assistance program. The young couple had set out to open a bakery business, their adventure began when they decided instead to stop in Strathroy to have a look, then decided to stay.
Their first shop was located at the west end of Front,St. just beyond Frank, which is now the CIBC parking lot. It was common in those days to take accomodation in a hotel, which they did. There were many hotels in Strathroy at the time and Helen and Alan made their first home at the Queens Hotel, on the site that is now the Royal Bank.
Everyone has to start somewhere, so initially what money they had was invested in a glass showcase. Back then, Saturday nights were the busy nights as the farmers came into town. Remember, nobody worked on Sunday. In about 2 years, Helen and Alan had proved their ability and tenacity to the banks and A.C. Hamilton Bakery opened in it’s present location. Ingredients were difficult to acquire after the war due to rationing, plus the fact they were young owners of a new business. Suppliers, out of necessity, would provide goods to their established customers first, leaving little to work with. They could have compromised with inferior ingredients, but for Alan’s baking that was never an option. Supplemented by the grocery store, they produced and sold what they could, then closed until the supplier came around the next week. Then, one day the salesman told them they could order whatever they wanted. After 3 years of perseverence, they were finally an established business.
Five children grew up in the business and all played a part, but the oldest, Patrick was to be the one to remain in the business. Then, in 1990, after 44 years, Helen and Alan stepped away from the business and Patrick and his wife Joanne and their 3 children stepped into their shoes.
Essentially, nothing changed. Patrick and Joanne worked hard to maintain both the image and the reputation for quality that had been established. In an age where baked goods are frozen, pre-baked, par-baked or baked off, quality ingredients can disappear without warning. Suppliers receive a higher return for these manufactured frozen products, rather than storing fresh ingredients. But like father, like son, compromise is not an option. Thanks to computers, communication and caring suppliers, sometimes products are picked up from large competitors and other retail food locations. Our finest ingredients come from all over the world and come together lovingly and honestly in our handmade, truly homemade traditional baked goods. We hope you’ll try them. We know you’ll taste the difference. It’s why we’ve been a part of family celebrations and events since 1946
Hamilton’s Bakery. Real Food. Honestly