Jim Payne

258 South Street, Former Canada Bread Company Factory Lot, Near Corner of South Street and Wellington Street


Jim Payne worked at the Canada Bread factory that used to be at 258 South Street, now an abandoned lot. This story comes from the London Public Library’s Oral History Heritage project.


My dad and grandfather both sides were bakers. Uncles were bakers. [Well it was a kind of] understood at home in those days the eldest boy would follow dad’s trade. And then there was no machines at all you just had to stir it up by hand this way. And there was no pans. There was an art in filling the oven up. There was a thermometer, which is called a pyrometer, on all the ovens now, even the travelling ovens have them. Tells you the heat. But we used to go by the amount of shovelfuls of coal we put on and the heat of the handle on the door.

And I worked for Canada Bread for fifteen years, I think. I worked for about half that time, I was making dough in the bread department. If you go to Canada Bread now nobody is a baker there everybody is a machine operator. When I was there I had in charge of three high-speed mixers and I didn’t walk from one to another. I ran. I went down to Canada Bread 20…23 years after I’d quit, just to take a look. And it was the same traveling oven and the same three mixers that I used to run at. And the same three mixers that I used to run at and they had two men on each mixer. And the same traveling oven. And they had one man dumping it as it comes out, another man putting it on the rack. You have to run the rack when it’s full out into the drawing room where it cools. As you go it’s quite often because bread is slippery that a loaf would slide off. We used to pick it up and dust it off on our pants, white pants ya know but, put it back on the shelf. And I watched this guy just open his feet and walk past it. And I said to him don’t ya pick them up and he said no there’s another man to do that.

Times have changed believe me.