Ottawans travelling down Rideau Street in the last few months may have noticed a familiar landmark missing.
Rideau Bakery's 1960s-style sign, which jutted out above the bakery's Rideau Street entrance for more than 50 years, is gone.
The sign was destroyed in a windstorm in May. According to bakery owner David Kardish, customers watched it blow away. They helped pick up the pieces, but only one part of the sign remained — the kerchiefed baker's smiling face.
"I was kind of shocked when I came in Saturday evening and I looked up at the sign, and there was no sign anymore!" Kardish told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.
"To get the exact duplicate sign, it's not that easy. We were lucky enough to be able to save the little bakery guy."
Customers to the rescue
So it must have come as sweet relief for Kardish when regular customer Trina Cooper-Bolam, a graphic designer who curates exhibitions, came in one day to offer her help.
About a week later, Kardish received a Facebook message from Derrick Smiley, owner of a business that makes signs and engravings for businesses. Smiley offered to help replace the sign at no cost.
All he needed was a vector image of the sign — basically a high-resolution reproduction — something Cooper-Bolam was able to create.
"This was literally one of the first sights I saw in Ottawa.... It's iconic," said Smiley, whose first home in the city was a block away from the bakery. "Hopefully [the new sign] lasts another 60 years."
A friendly place
Cooper-Bolam told Ottawa Morning she used to visit the bakery as a teenager. She grew up in Orléans, so the Rideau Bakery sign became an important wayfinder as she learned to navigate downtown Ottawa.
"It was sort of always the safe space and this friendly space on Rideau," she said. "I have a real fondness for it. I love being able to bring my daughter here. She loves coming here after school. We make it a fairly regular thing."
Smiley said he's aiming to deliver the sign on Aug. 24, to have it hanging in front of the bakery by September.
Mother Nature may have had her way with the original sign, but Kardish said he's been blown away by the support of his customers.
"It's absolutely amazing," Kardish said. "I'm really very impressed. And just that people would offer to help like this for no charge and just be part of the community, that's the big thing to me."