Bakery on Wheels

The Link, Autumn 2017
| by Joyce Higgs |

Four years ago, after travelling the world together, Graham Thoem and Jessica Arsenault decided to settle in Lakefield and found Hard Winter Bread Company. Graham explains, “We lived in small-town Canada, big-city Canada, a year in Australia, five months in New Zealand and six months in Japan. We lived in these places and got to know the people and their cultures.”

The bakery’s slogan is “Simpler Times, Natural Elements and a Lot of Hard Work.” The hard work began even before they started their own bakery and both Jessica and Graham agree that they didn’t really know what they were getting into. But they had a glimpse into it because a friend owned a similar bakery in northern British Columbia and they started baking with her, helping her out and learning her tricks of the trade. She also had a wood-fired oven where they learned to bake bagels.

“There’s something about bagels and Canadians – we just love them.”

Jessica describes both Graham and herself as entrepreneurs. She explains, “We love working for ourselves. I especially love it with our growing family because it offers us a surprising amount of flexibility. Our son is not in daycare – he’s with me full-time, but I also work full-time. We feel so lucky we’re able to do that. The business is growing and growing, and we can employ people – a big deal for us. We have six people working for us at the Peterborough Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. We’re really proud of that, because when we started four years ago it was just the two of us.”

When asked if they ever thought people would be lined up at 7 am waiting to order bagels, Graham laughs and admits, “Yes, actually, we did! There’s something about bagels and Canadians – we just love them.” At first they made the bagels in their bakery in Lakefield, but after Jessica took maternity leave they came up with the concept last fall of making mobile bagels. Graham explains, “We had to make sure that this was going to work. We knew there was the demand for bagels. I think we had a cool concept of making them on-site and right in front of people.”

Why are their bagels so popular? Jessica muses, “I think a lot of us are missing the connection with how our food is made. People enjoy knowing where their food comes from and watching it being made. I’m amazed by the number of children who come up to our market stall and are just staring at the dough being mixed, rolled and baked. They want to know how it works and I can hear parents telling their kids, “This is how bread’s made.”

If you haven’t yet discovered them, Hard Winter Bread Company sells their bagels and other baked goods – including their popular sourdough breads – every Saturday morning year-round at the Peterborough Farmers’ Market from 7 am to 1 pm and also at the Lakefield Farmers’ market during the summer. They do not sell to the public from their bakery, but you can also find their products at selected stores listed on their website (see below).

Although details were not finalized as of press date, Graham and Jessica plan to offer workshops on making bagels and sourdough bread in their bakery this fall. For details visit their website:, find them on Facebook or email