top of page
Anchor 1

Now serving

Negash Coffee

Meet the owner

Joe began assisting his father when he was a Grade 5 student at Réal-Bérard Community School. He credits his dad for popularizing the bakery’s long line of goods outside the town of 1,200 residents.  He accomplished that the old-fashioned way, his son continues, by hitting the road and offering store managers in Winnipeg and beyond free samples of this or that.  Owing to ever-increasing demand – present capability is around 1,800 loaves of bread per hour and 150 dozen buns every 20 minutes, six days a week — the bakery grew by another 5,000 square feet in the spring of 2021.


One of Pierre’s uncles, George Fréchette, owned it from 1945 to 1948. Another family, the Fontaines, was in charge for at least 20 years prior to that. Also, it was originally on the opposite side of the street from its present site at 530 Hebert Ave., Rochon points out. 

“There was a town well just outside the door and people used to stop in for sweets or whatever, on their way to getting their water,” Rochon says, adding it was his direct predecessor, a fellow named Léon Fontaine, who relocated the growing enterprise in the mid-1950s or thereabouts.

The bakery was a fraction of its current, 10,000-square-foot self when Rochon, who, like the Gagnés, was born and raised in St. Pierre Jolys, caught on there as a teenager.

While 90 per cent of present-day sales comes from stocking retail stores and specialty shops throughout southeastern Manitoba, including a dozen or so outlets in Winnipeg, if you were craving a cinnamon bun or butter tart back in the day, you had to drop by in person.

Rochon recalls a period after he bought the bakery in 1965 at age 29 when he or one of his employees would load a station wagon with as many fresh-baked loaves of bread and trays of cookies as would fit, then hit the road for hours on end, to deliver the lot to individual households as far south as Dominion City and as far north as St. Andrews.

(Those days aren’t completely extinct, Joe interjects. There is a long-time, elderly customer living in La Salle who they continue to visit in person, whenever one of three company vehicles is in the vicinity.)

Pierre was 12 years old when Rochon gave him a weekend job packaging hotdog and hamburger buns. Four years later, he informed his parents he was quitting school, to work at the bakery full-time. The only way his mother would allow that to happen was if he signed up for a commercial baking course, so that he would have something to fall back on, he says. He did as she wished, except a few months after enrolling at Red River College, Rochon called him to say his head baker had quit and was he interested in the job? “My thinking was why the heck not?” Pierre says, patting his old boss on the shoulder.

“At the end of the day, I already knew most of what they were teaching me at college from having worked at the bakery already, so I convinced my mom that it was a waste of money for me to go (to Red River), and that was that.”

Pierre approached Rochon in 1989, to let him know if he ever was contemplating selling the bakery, he’d love to have first dibs on it.

Rochon mulled the proposal over for a few days before informing Pierre that if he still felt the same way three years hence — a number he pulled out of a hat, he says with a wink — then it was a deal. The pair shook hands and true to his word, Rochon turned the keys over to his underling in 1992.

bottom of page