Thunder Bay

Donato's Bakery celebrates 20 years in business in Thunder Bay

The family behind Donato's Bakery in Thunder Bay is celebrating 20 years in business, and one hundred years of tradition.
David Bruno is the youngest of three brothers celebrating the 20th anniversary of their business, Donato's Bakery, in Thunder Bay. (Jody Porter/CBC)

The family behind Donato's Bakery in Thunder Bay, Ont. is celebrating 20 years in business, and 100 years of tradition.

David Bruno, youngest of three brothers behind the business, said it all began a century ago when his great grandmother started selling her bread in a small Italian town called Simbario in Calabria.

Caterina di la Marinara, (right) making focaccia bread nearly 100 years ago in Italy. She is the great grandmother of the three brothers who still use her recipes at Donato's bakery in Thunder Bay. (donatosbakery.com)
The recipe and the skill was passed down from generation to generation, and when members of the family moved to Thunder Bay, they brought it with them, he said. His mother passed the skill on to David's oldest brother, Donato. The three brothers run the bakery with their father and mother. 

"We're still mom and pop," Bruno said. "Things are still done artisan by hand and that's the way we like it." 

The 20th anniversary caught the family by surprise, he said, and made them think about just how far back their baking tradition went.

"We had realized that 'wow, we've been doing this for a lot longer than that,' and it hit us like a ton of bricks," Bruno said. "Starting with my great grandmother's operations in Simbario, Calabria, we've been doing this as a family for just over 100 years." 

Bruno said the recipe his grandmother Caterina used in the early 1900s is still being used at the bakery today.

"The recipe is crazy simple, of flour, water, yeast, salt and little else," he said. "The process is actually exactly the same as she set out in Italy." 

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