Gill & Kate Bakers: Bringing heart into your home

It was pouring rain at Finnegan’s market, and there they were, smiling and laughing, selling their treasures to passers-by and devout fans. Their laughter was infectious, and soon they had me giggling in the pelting rain, as I listened to stories of homemade ginger beer experiments, Gill’s half-hearted attempt at retirement, and of a friendship that comes about but rarely.

Gill & Kate Bakers

Kate Courtnell and Gill Linsdell of Gill & Kate Bakers

I didn’t realize at the time, but I was witnessing a business that has come full circle. Gill Linsdell had her beginnings at Finnegan’s 26 years ago. She had always baked, for family and often for friends. Her teenage daughters gave her the idea to try selling it at the market. Only halfway convinced herself, she dutifully showed up with 20 breads and 20 scones. She sold out the first day. She kept upping the quantity, and they kept right on selling. She went to Pastry School, and Business School (this is where Kate laughs, as it was more of a glorified secretarial school rather than learning to run a business). Still, Gill can now type and bake (not at the same time, of course).

She found a little place in Pointe Claire village, right on the Lakeshore. Ourson de Miel was opened, as a small bakery and coffee shop.

Kate Courtnell and her husband, Graham (introduced to me as the “ampersand” in “Gill & Kate” for his unwavering support), were customers. A friendship blossomed between the two women, both originating from England; Kate from Kent, and Gill from Manchester. At the beginning, Gill had an arrangement with a woman who, in exchange for the use of the kitchen in the afternoons, would also keep the dessert fridge stocked. Gill was up before scones from Gill & Kate Bakersthe sun and did her baking of breads and scones in the morning. After four months, and seeing about as many cakes, she asked the woman to leave. She did, taking much of Gill’s things with her. In a panic, Gill called Kate, “You said you like to bake. Can you bake…all the desserts?” And Kate did. Twenty-one hours later, she brought in enough to fill the dessert fridge. The very next day, Kate received another call. “We’re out of everything! Can you make some more?” Kate, back in the kitchen, and another 21 hours later, did it again. Kate was not just any customer or friend. She herself had gone through five years at a Cordon Bleu cooking school back in England. Luckily the pace slowed a bit as customers started to realize that there would be more to come. And thus began Kate and Gill’s professional partnership. They laugh at this story, and at so many others. You can tell that even through all these hardships, they have had fun and still do.

artisanal bread from Gill & Kate BakersGill says, “It was the best time I ever had. I’d be in there at 3am and it was my favorite thing to do”. Her children and their friends worked at the bakery, they had their highs and lows. As she said, it was “artisanal without the artisanal prices”. Not all customers care about the ingredients or the quality, but that is what you get in spades with Gill & Kate’s breads delicious date bars from Gill & Kate bakersand cakes. They use the finest ingredients, real butter, and organic flour. They are looking at a farm out in Ontario to supply them with organic grain still in the grain form because Gill likes to grind her own. They have a great flow in their relationship. Kate has kept on doing the cakes and sweeter treats, while Gill concentrates on the breads. They both can do it all, but this seems to have worked out nice for them. Through their stories you also hear an immense love and dedication coming from their families, supporting them on this adventure. They seem to sense too, that it’s not just about bread.

Gill: “You touch people when you cook, on levels you don’t realize. Years later someone will say, ‘I remember you made me a cake’. It was a part of their celebration. It’s about connections.” Gill & Kate instinctively understand that when you are baking bread for someone to take into their home, that you become in a way, part of that family’s meal and together time. You are helping them share in that time-honored ritual of breaking bread.

As they say, “It’s all about food and friendship.”

Gill & Kate Bakers at Finnegan's MarketGill & Kate Bakers. (514) 505-3980

Gill & Kate can be found at Finnegan’s Market in Hudson from 9am to 4pm until the end of October. (775, Main Street, Hudson, Quebec  J0P1H0).

They will also be present at TMR’s Christmas market (Le Salon des artisans de Mont-Royal). November 30th, December 1st and 2nd, at TMR’s Town Hall (90 Roosevelt Avenue, Town of Mount-Royal, H3R 1Z5). Open Friday from 11am, Saturday and Sunday from 10am, and closing at 5pm every day.

For further news and updates on Gill & Kate and other local products, go to my Facebook page at



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