Hearts & Turtles


On Monday, January 6th, 2020, Carly and I met with the following people at our FCP store:
· Lucie Bisson from Brookfield Properties
· the person responsible for renovation projects at Brookfield whose name I forget now,
· Mary Bannet, our designer,
· Rob from Bootstrap Contracting that had built out one of the two new stores we opened in 2019, and
· PGB’s Head Baker, Andrea Ascione.
We stayed clear of the bakers in full production mode in the small kitchen, and the customers waiting to be served.
The meeting booking, still in my calendar, says “Prairie Girl Walk-Through for Revitalization”.
After ten busy years in the FCP concourse, the place needed a new look and Mary’s rendering later that week was white and sleek with dashes of hot pink and silver.
Carly, Ailish, Andrea and I were very excited – could we get it done by Valentine’s Day?!
If you’d told me then that on January 5th, 2021 we would post on social media the news of our permanent closure only to be flooded with hundreds of social media messages and emails all saying, more or less,
“Noooooo, you can’t goooooo”, I would have laughed and said, on what parallel universe?
But here we are.
And it’s okay.
In our pre-pandemic life, when we were away, our cats, Minnie and Ellie, were visited by Sanja whose business Cat Care Puzzles is an exceptional pet sitting business. Yesterday, Sanja came by the house to drop off what she described as a “small gift”.     It was so perfect: two plants, precious in their diminutive size and the depth of their green, one with leaves shaped like tortoises and the other, hearts.
The tumble of hearts were all those people who emailed, posted, called, sent cards and, would have if they could have, hugged me and said, “I’m sorry”.
The team members who gathered on Zoom to be told we were closing, and when called to discuss their individual severance, instead asked about how we, the managers, were doing, were we okay?
The banker who called within 45 seconds of my email to him and said, “It’s okay, you guys really tried. My wife is a nurse, and I understand what you’re doing.”
My husband and son and daughter and brother in law who spent last Saturday morning cleaning out the Victoria store and then driving like a bat out of hell to make the 12:30 cut off time for the city dump.
And the little plant covered with tiny turtles is for the next stage.
I have so many plans and so many things I want to do but years ago, someone gave me a small tortoise made of green glass to remind me of the benefits of small steps. Of not needing to rush. Of looking around and seeing where I am at right now before I move ahead.
I’m going to keep writing the blog. One thing I learned over the last decade is that I really love owning a business, and I will again.
For now, I am doing my best to pause, take small steps and see where they lead.
Thank you for reading this and other posts I’ve written, your kind words, your interest, your support of Prairie Girl Bakery over the years. I wish you well, wherever you live and whatever you are up to in this challenging period. As someone said to me recently, this is just a point in time – an obvious statement but one that I found reassuring.  If you’d like to be in touch, I’m at jeanblacklock@mac.com



About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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