Big Bang Bagels

Jesse Bell Photography

For years I've stumbled into Big Bang Bagels on early mornings. Whether to cure the hangover I nurse on New Year’s Day, or to fill my stomach before rushing to the ski hill, I can always count on the bagel shop, as dependable as the line-up that overflows outside its doors.

“Can I get an Avolauncher, on a salty-top whole wheat with fried ham, please?” I order. My go-to. Salty. Filling. Delicious. Or the Big Banger, for those days where you just need an egg.

Then finally, on a hot summer day in August, I make bagels. Don't tell anyone, but I got their secret recipe:

just kiddin
this isnt the recipe
fooled yo
3 squirts of

Just kidding. I don't know the recipe. But I do know that if you want to make bagels at Big Bang you have to get up early. Painstakingly early. So early you feel like a shell of a human.

I wake up at 5am and drag myself to the little corner brick shop on Main Street. The air's already warm, and Michael Bull greets me – a bagel-maker turned school teacher, who still makes bagels in the summer months. Tina Turner blasts through the speakers overhead, and the shop's alive before it even opens. I need coffee.

“How do we make bagels?” I ask Michael, unaware that last night's mascara shadows my eyes.

“I can't tell you.” Cheeky. I wash my hands and get to work.

We work our way through the first batch of dough, add flour and other ingredients to Hobart, the mixer, turn him on, wait. The dough reaches desired consistency and we separate it into five—add blueberries to one, hot sauce and jalapenos to another, cinnamon and raisin, cheddar. One batch of dough makes five batches of bagels.

We cut 4.4 to 4.6 ounces of dough, roll, connect both ends into the shape of a skinny donut. The dough rises, and Cat, a new bagel-maker, puts the bagels into a giant pot of boiling water. She takes them out, tops them with shredded cheese, poppy seeds, cinnamon, and slides them into the oven to bake. The shop smells decadent, rich, cheesy. I smell decadent, rich, cheesy.

I'm hungry.

“Making bagels means we get to eat them, right?”

“I eat about three bagels a day,” replies Michael. He's skinny, the proud owner of a fast metabolism that leaves me cursing beneath my breath. “Sometimes I have cookies for breakfast.” Seriously?

Big Bang Bagels begins in Carolyn Doyle's kitchen in 2008. Carolyn bakes 200 bagels in her house every Saturday, and sells all 200 at the Fernie Mountain Market on Sundays. She develops the Fernie-style bagel; fluffier, bigger, better than the counterpart Montreal-style bagel.

When Carolyn outgrows her kitchen, she asked to use the kitchen at 2-for-1 Pizza uptown. The owner happily hands her the keys, and twice a week that autumn she delivers specialty bagel orders from her bicycle.

One year after she sells out at her first Mountain Market, Carolyn opens Big Bang Bagels on Main Street.

50,000 bagels; that's how many they've made this summer. A reflection of success, of support from Fernie and its visitors. Inside, there's a framed photograph of a man with his face in a giant bagel – The Bomb. Two-and-a-half pounds of bagel and ingredients.

Michael finishes The Bomb in 42 minutes once, sort of. He pukes along the way. The record? Five minutes, 35 seconds.

“We're now a part of Fernie,” Carolyn says. “There are so many locals who come out of the woodwork in the shoulder season. We love our staff, we have a lot of fun.”

Indeed, Big Bang Bagels is notorious for throwing the best staff parties. They nearly always win best costume at the annual Raft Race. I can't help but notice the camaraderie between staff. It's barely 7am. Not just staff, but family.

When time comes for me to fold my last bagel, I don't want to leave. I could stand in the back with Michael all day, dance to Tina Turner, eat bagels, drink coffee. Though, if I ate three a day I wouldn't last long. I grab a bag of day old bagels from out front, and carry on my merry, bagel-filled way.