Champions of Alberta Avenue: Popular Bakery

Popular Bakery: A True Family Business 

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It’s difficult to separate work and home when they share a building, but when you sometimes don’t finish work until eleven or twelve at night and are back at it at four in the morning, it’s convenient, especially in the winter Olimpio and Maria Soares have found. The owners of Popular Bakery live above their shop on the corner at 9307 118th Avenue. 

The couple were both born in Portugal, but came to Edmonton via Angola where Maria had lived with her parents since she was five and Olimpio had served in the military. A civil war in which one million people died drove them out of the country and back to Portugal for a few years, before they came to Canada in 1979. Neither spoke English at the time. They had two sons and took whatever work they could to support their family.  

Although he had always loved to bake, and had owned a bakery in Angola with Maria and her father, Olimpio became a welder and worked in in Northern Alberta. He was still working as a welder when they opened their bakery where the Carrot is now in 1996. Maria and their sons Paul and Carlos ran the bakery during the week, with Olimpio helping on the weekends. They spent 10 years in that location, but bought land on the corner of 93rd. in the meantime, and built the bakery they now live and work in.  

“We started here one week before Christmas and had no power and no phone,” Maria says. We had cords running from our old location for the phone and Y and T Trading Company provided us with power, because we wanted to be open for Christmas. It was the busiest day we ever had, but we did it!” 

Olimpio retired from welding and makes the custard tarts and other pastries and desserts they are known for. “I love very much my work because I like to see the people who come to the bakery appreciate the breads and pastries,” he says. 

Popular Bakery also serves meals, with homemade soup and barbequed chicken being particular favourites, according to Maria. 

Their sons have taken over the bread baking and will eventually take over the business. “We have one family working together, my wife, my kids,” Olimpio says proudly. “They will continue the business; it will be the future for them.” 

Watch The Champions of Alberta Avenue Short Film by Moving Artistry Productions

This special community project became reality through the creative efforts of:

Justin Brunelle | Moving Artistry Productions

Weyme Teeter | Video Editor

David Baron | Cinematographer

Shirley Serviss | Writer

The Edmonton Shutterbugs Photography Group

Christy Morin | Project Producer

Allison Argy-Burgess | Project Coordinator