Bear Creek Bakery
Meet Kevin, Mission’s new favourite baker.
Meet Sue, his lovely wife who manages to keep a full time, family business running smoothly each and every day.
Kevin is from Burlington, Ontario and spent 22 years as a Bakery supervisor, specialist and store manager with Loblaws (Real Canadian Superstore). His career with the grocery store took him across Canada and finally landed him in our wonderful little community in 2005.
Due to layoffs across Canada, Kevin lost his job with the company. Never one to miss an opportunity though, he immediately recognized that this might be his perfect moment to open up his own bakery.
It would be a win-win situation.
Mission was in desperate need of a community bakery that had a family-run, personal touch.
Kevin would be doing what he loved, creating magic every day.
Local bakers are known to gain popularity by simply producing delicious products that make people happy, so the bakery was destined to be a hit.
Throwing a few names around, the family eventually came up with Bear Country Bakery, due to the excessive amounts of signs seen around the Fraser Valley warning people that they are, in fact, literally in Bear Country.
From the very beginning, they supported small businesses in the community such as Nutek Signs and Tea Time for all of their design and decor.
Bear Country Bakery opened their doors on April 20th, 2018, which means that they only just recently celebrated their 2nd year in business.
It was a scramble from the very beginning, as the community flocked to indulge in the new variety of baked goods available in town.
“Not long after we first opened, someone posted a picture of one of our strawberry cheesecakes on Mission BC & Neighbours on Facebook,” Sue tells us, laughing as she is reminded of their crazy first week before Mother’s Day, two years ago. “Suddenly we ended up making 60+ strawberry cheesecakes within a week!”
They have faced their own shares of challenges along the way. Finding the right balance for a family run business can be a bit of a struggle.
“We invested in quite a lot of labour at the beginning,” Sue admits. “Now it’s mostly just the family working here, with one part timer coming in to help out every now and then.”
Kevin and Sue really do run a family business, and if you’ve been in there at all, you will immediately see that it is run like a well oiled machine. Kevin is the baker, creating 90% of the product in the shop. Sue manages the front, focusing mostly on ensuring that customers are smiling and satisfied. Larisa, their daughter, is the top cake decorator, while their son, Paul, comes in occasionally and does odd jobs, such as cleaning, slicing bread and packing goods to be delivered. They both work a couple of times each week.
I was curious as to some of the unusual baking requests that they would have received over the past couple of years.
“People phone in and want us to make them a St. Honoré cake or Hungarian Dobosh Torte,” Sue says, looking to Paul for a shared giggle.
Definitely baffled by those requests, I found myself looking them up.
St. Honoré cake - This classic French dessert is a circle of puff pastry at its base with a ring of pâte à choux (light pastry dough) piped on the outer edge. Small baked cream puffs are dipped in caramelized sugar and attached side by side on top.
Hungarian Dobosh Torte is a Hungarian sponge cake consisting of seven layers filled with rich chocolate buttercream, topped with caramel and sometimes coated with ground hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts or almonds.
... I might order that.
“We also get a LOT of Keto request.”
When Sue mentioned this, I couldn’t help but laugh, considering how inconceivable it would seem to think that a bakery would have the capability of offering anything of the Keto variety.
Kevin uses a low carb multi seed and flax rye to create the Keto products and proudly sells bread, buns, scones, muffins, brownies and cheesecake.
“It has definitely brought more customers in,” says Sue.
Supporting the community has always been a top priority for Kevin and Sue. In addition to providing all of the bread, buns and baked goods for the Northview Community Church campuses, they also help out smaller non-profits and charitable organizations such as The Mission Elks, the Mission Food Bank, Mission Hospice, St. Joseph's Catholic Women's League and do a weekly bread and bun donation to the Mission Friendship Centre. They recently did a donut drop to the Mission Medium Security Prison to thank all of the guards for their hard work during a difficult time.
Standing in this bakery was a true test of willpower, surrounded by a smorgasbord of decadent treats. Everything was tempting… the apple cinnamon sticky loaf, the variety of pies, the long johns made with real cream, the vanilla slices…
Finally, bursting at the seams, I asked the big question; What is Mission’s favourite treat?
“Carrot cake slices.”
It can be argued that baked goods are usually an indulgence, not necessarily a necessity. But right now, it can be deemed as essential.
So if it’s essential, it must be ok to indulge?
… and that’s how you justify eating an entire carrot cake slice.