Anybody who calls a bread "Old Stumpie" is alright by me.
Not to anthropomorphize a loaf of bread too much, but when I met my first Stumpie I had to smile at something with such a sympathetic name that looked like a friendly brown alligator with no legs — or tail, for that matter — and sesame and pumpkin seeds flecking its back.
But why call it Stumpie? That question drove me to poke in the fridge of Mark and Paula Lamming, creators of Old Stumpie and owners of the cleverly named Purebread (a riff on "thoroughbred" and something clean, solid and natural: "pure bread") located in Whistler's Function Junction.
But first I had to ask Mark how a Kiwi (those accents are a giveaway) ended up in Whistler baking up a storm. It's one of those "do-what-you-love" stories riddled with happenstance and good timing.
After leaving Christchurch, New Zealand, for a year of travel which has now become 25 years away, Mark happened to end up in London, England, "flatting" with a bunch of Kiwis and working his own commercial cleaning business. One of his flat mates happened to work with Paula, a Canadian expat, who came along to a barbecue.
It was 1988; the two hit it off. After a trip to the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, Mark landed a job back in London at British Telecom just as the Internet was taking off. A cheap London-Vancouver flight in May 1990 provided their first glimpse of Whistler.
"It was amazing. The skiing was still going on, so we skied in the morning and then mountain biked in the afternoon," says Mark. "We thought, wow — this place is incredible!"
When Paula became pregnant with their first child, Megan, they decided London wasn't the place to raise a family, so they chose the Toronto suburb where Paula had grown up. Mark's experience at British Telecom landed him a spot with Oracle software. In charge of customer service across Canada, he often came to Vancouver. Since the brother of one of his co-workers just happened to manage the Crystal Lodge, the Lammings visited Whistler again and again.
Then when Mark's office in Toronto moved, giving him a two-hour commute, a line was crossed.
"I don't know what the trigger point for Whistler was, but we said, let's just wing it and see if I can get some work. If not, then Vancouver is not a bad second choice."
That was 19 years and a Club Intrawest management job ago. When the Intrawest job folded with the Fortress takeover, more serendipity unfolded.
"Norm and Natasha Strim, who run Nonna Pia's Balsamic Reductions, were doing Bizarre Bazaar in 2008," says Mark. "We had a bread maker and had been playing around making bread more for our own use, but we'd also been sharing it with friends. They really liked it, and asked us to do bread for them for sampling."