In 1924, The Standard Bread Company emerged on Gladstone Avenue in Ottawa's Little Italy.
Bread is an important index by which the cost and
value of living is rated.
- G. Cecil Morrison, President, Standard Bread Co. (1924)
It was the "Roaring Twenties". Cecil Morrison built the bread
factory after searching for a location that would position his business
closer to the city limits. Shortly after opening, the Standard Bread Company's
stocks rose dramatically.
The fact that it was built during a period when Canadian wheat was booming
in international markets, and industrialism and private businesses were
soaring, meant that Morrison could proudly adorn his building with the
Latin proverb: Audaces Fortuna Juvat, meaning Fortune Favors the Bold.
(The plaque is still there, on the outer brick wall close to the steps
of the building.)
Bread was sold from the warehouse and delivered across the city and beyond
by horse and wagon. (The factory owners housed the horses and wagons at
the back of the building, and used the third floor as a hayloft.)
On the insistence that its loaf of bread was bigger than any other Ottawa
bakery's, the "Mother loaf" became the signature of the Standard
Bread Company. The management maintained a strong advertising campaign
and set up branches in Montreal and intitiated plans for Toronto.
The Great Depression dramatically affected the bread industry. The wheat
market dropped from $1.60 per bushel to 38¢. The Standard Bread Company
found itself with too large an inventory of wheat and it fell into difficult
times. Large numbers of employees were laid-off and, in 1932, Cecil Morrison
was fired as president of the company. Morrison would later open another
bakery on Echo Drive after he recovered from his financial losses.
Bread is a basic source of nutrition and one that is especially valuable
during times of economic difficulties and war. Morrison lobbied with the
National Council of the Baking Industry to keep the price of bread at
pre-war levels as a means to help prevent inflation. So effective was
his campaign that the President of the Canadian Labour Congress of the
time, A.R. Mosher, said: "If the price of bread had gone up by one
cent a loaf it would have resulted in a 10% increase in wages all across
The building's past as a place to produce bread and its present as a
place to produce art is of interest. Much can be said about the similarities
between bread and art. The art market has always been volatile to changes
in the economy. As well, art, like bread, sustains and stimulates society.
Making bread is more difficult than the simple task of following a recipe.
A baker works with yeast, a "living" element that is susceptible
to changes in the environment. A good baker knows how to control humidity
and temperature levels to make a good loaf of bread.
Good art, as well, is more that an understanding of the artist's materials.
It is a result of the artist's comment on and awareness of the "conditions" of
our contemporary enviroment.
Adapted from "Art and Bread as Necessary Staples", an article
written by Enriched Bread Artist Cindy Stelmackowich, which was published
inThe Daily Bread, a tabloid produced for the EBA's 3rd Annual Open Studio
Exhibition in 1995.
Photo: 951 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa, Canada. Photo credit: Danny Hussey,