Engineering the future

Engineering the future


A pair of engineers are dreaming up a sustainable future at The Village Bakery in Haines Junction

A Summer 2015 Yukon Prospector Web Extra

What do engineers, croissants, and compostable cups all have in common? 

  They’re converging at The Village Bakery in Haines Junction. 

  Chelsea Hamilton (30) and Andrew Marston (31) met in 2003 at the University of Toronto.  Chelsea is a mining engineer and Andrew is a mechanical engineer.

  Both worked in their fields after graduating, then decided to “retire” to Haines Junction and run The Village Bakery. 

  The pair say the town is a special spot.  A place where they can associate with people who have like-minded interests at heart. 

  Both are staunch environmentalists for instance.

  “We started talking to people who are from here, and who’ve been here.  There’s a lot of sustainability talk going on in town.  People want to be self-sufficient,” said Chelsea.

  She says her work as a mining engineer didn’t really align with her values.  But now, she gets to make people happy, and wake up under the mountains. And concentrate on ways to support the environment. 


  For instance, Andrew says they’re trying their best to make the bakery less wasteful.

  “One thing that bugs me still is the amount of waste, the amount of garbage,” he says.  He'd like to see a zero waste facility.

  The pair have brought in compostable take away containers as an initial move towards this goal. 

  They’re also trying to encourage people to eat in, and use the bakery's dishes.  You can get $.50 off your coffee if you’re using your own mug for example.

  They’ve also added more options for local and organic food, which people seem to be enjoying.   

  “We have some big burly construction workers come in and order the vegan shepherd’s pie.  They love it,” says Chelsea.

  This is uncharted waters for the pair. Andrew says that the pair both loved to cook. But they’re learning the ropes of the business as they go.

  “You could say we knew nothing about [the industry],” says Andrew.

  “We’re both kind of known for doing random things.  Most people would consider crazy,” says Chelsea.

  They've had some help from the old staff.  About 1/2 of which work for them. 

  Andrew is now learning to bake from the baker John. He says he’s only burned a few things so far. 

  “A lot of our employees know what they’re doing, and it’s awesome. They pretty much teach us everything,” says Chelsea.

  The engineering degrees don’t hurt either. 

  In the first week they were open the walk-in cooler, oven, dishwasher, ice machine and van all broke.

  Andrew was able to fix all but the van.

  The pair say they have a thousand ideas for their shop. 

  They definitely want to keep the random music events happening. On Tuesday night for instance, a band just started jamming on the patio.  That’s just the kind of place Haines Junction is.

  They’ll also keep the Friday night salmon bake going.

  And eventually they’d like to see the bakery open a bit later into the fall.  Right now they’re only open May to early September,

  But their main goal will be finding ways to be more sustainable, and teaching others about the importance of sustainability. The pair are looking for more local growers and producers. There's also talk of putting in solar.

  “And a bicycle smoothie maker!” says Chelsea. Y  

Story & photos by

Jonathan Duncan

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  • commented 2015-06-19 05:09:18 -0700
    What do they do in the off-season?
  • published this page in People 2015-06-18 14:48:44 -0700