By Chad Feehan
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
October 27, 2023 Edition
Jamie O’Flaherty had in recent years been known as the “bread scientist” of Powell’s Supermarket in Bay Roberts.
His sourdough had been known far and wide, bringing many dedicated customers from Bay Roberts and beyond to put one of his delicious breads in their grocery bag.
O’Flaherty had only been making bread since 2015, but in that short time he managed to make a palpable impact on those around him through the simple act of baking.
On September 29th, O’Flaherty died after a short battle with cancer, leaving not only his family, but his coworkers and customers to mourn.
Powell’s public relations coordinator Valerie Morgan said O’Flaherty’s time at the supermarket may have been relatively short, but it was meaningful.
In 2019 the store had renovated the baking area and wanted to bring something special to its bakery, and would eventually bring O’Flaherty onto its team.
“When they tried Jamie’s product and spoke with Jamie, that was something they obviously fell in love with,” Morgan said.
The bakery would go on to be named “Powell’s Artisan Bread by Jamie,” due to the presence, passion, and expertise O’Flaherty would bring daily to his craft.
O’Flaherty’s daughter Lisa remembers her father not just as a baker, but as a lover of cooking in general. Even after spending a full day at the supermarket, he wouldn’t hesitate to put on his apron after getting home and cook a good meal for Lisa and her daughter when they would come over for supper.
Though not a man of words, it was through actions such as cooking, that he showed his love for his family.
Whether going to work or leaving to go home, he would always honk his horn while driving past his daughters house – just a little way to say “Hi.”
“He loved hard, but he didn’t show his emotion. He showed his love in different ways… He didn’t say it or use his words, but he was always there for us,” O’Flaherty said.
She also remembers the joy her father felt from sharing his bread with others.
“He liked seeing people’s reactions,” said O’Flaherty. “Everybody loves his bread, there was nobody that I met that didn’t enjoy it… It was true sourdough.”
While he was a dedicated baker, O’Flaherty had many passions. In the 90s, he became enamored with Cuban cigars and the minutiae surrounding the hobby. He then picked up roasting his own coffee beans, smoking pipe tobacco, and coal barbecuing – all of which he approached with vigor.
“When he gets into something, he goes hard,” Lisa said.
Barb Thomson of Harbour Main was a dedicated customer of O’Flaherty, initially discovering his baked goods at a Christmas fair in Clarke’s Beach. They would then periodically meet up in parking lots where he would give her samples to try.
“Bread is such a basic, life-giving wonderful thing. He really was an artist and brought ongoing joy to so many lives,” said Thompson.
Morgan said she constantly admired O’Flaherty for the dedication he put into his breadmaking.
“Watching him in his element never got old,” said the Powell’s spokesperson. “He loved anyone who would come up and chat sourdough, which I guess is why we got along really well.”
Morgan said Powell’s Supermarket plans to honor and respectfully continue O’Flaherty’s legacy, which will be announced to customers in the “not-too-distant-future.”