Procter has taken on a big challenge. Yet the community is undaunted by the task of rebuilding its bakery/café — its meeting place and heart. But to do that it needs help.
Since 1938, the Procter Community Society has pulled together to create a village that is unique in West Kootenay. While other small towns are centered around major roads that connect them to Nelson, Castlegar, Trail and Nakusp, Procter is a little bit out of the way and just a touch more remote.
At the core of the community is The Village Bakery. For at least two decades, the café, tucked into the old schoolhouse, has served as the town’s meeting place, eating place, discussion forum and social heartbeat.
In the fall of 2018, the Village Bakery shut its doors and the community rallied. No Village Bakery? Unthinkable! But the question was how to re-open? How to keep it going?
Lisa Norris, vice president of Procter Community Society explained, “In order to re-open we need to do upgrades and buy new equipment.” Those upgrades include electrical, plumbing, installing an accessible front door and bathroom – and so much more. In fact, the society estimates it will cost between $75,000 to $100,000 to renovate the Village Bakery. With a population of 800, that might seem like a daunting task. But when the local population was presented with the facts, there was no hesitation. “Let’s do it!” they said.
Fundraising began. In short order, the community raised almost $5,000. Other contributions came from skilled tradespeople with offers of hands-on work. Among the society’s strategies are a t-shirt logo contest, a dance and silent auction on May 25, sales of a puzzle taken from an original sketch of Procter executed by the late local artist George Reid and a GoFundMe campaign named Every Village Needs a Kitchen.
Today, the bakery is gutted. Work is in progress. But a lot of work still needs to be done.
Norris calls the entire project a “Labour of love.”
“The community really has a say in what they’d like to see happen. We do regular community updates and the community has been involved in a really significant way and I think that’s important for everyone. The volunteer aspect has been massive. This community spirit goes back in history. It’s natural for people here to come together when they believe in something.”
The vision for the new Procter Village Bakery isn’t a grand one — it’s one that captures the heart of a small community. Norris said she imagines a place full of warmth that celebrates the community’s roots while it creates fresh memories.