For those of us who were lucky enough to be living, playing, and trying to grow up in and around Ponoka in the 1980s, one of the real treats and stress-busters was a daily visit to a new and always friendly Bakery and Deli operated by Bill and Marlene Goodbun, family and staff. For six days a week, in the wee hours of the morning, the little shop at 5026-51 Avenue in Ponoka was busy preparing ‘from scratch’ (using no mixes), a full and quality line of bakery items, from bread to buns to cakes to donuts, as well as an amazing variety of delightful pastries to suit all taste buds and culinary fantasies. Those popular sweet treats and aromas also attracted an avid public following of customers of all ages to take advantage of a wide and daily made assortment of sandwiches, beverages, and snacks for sit-in or takeout orders at the deli.
A youthful dream comes true
Bill Goodbun and Marlene Moore were both born, raised and educated in Roblin, Manitoba, and would eventually become childhood sweethearts. Bill’s favourite Uncle Bob was a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Canadian Navy, and at an early age, he was bound and determined that he, too, was also going to pursue his lifetime career as baker. At the age of 14, Bill started work at the local bakery, and his first assignment was delivering the freshly made bread daily to different stores and locations in and around Roblin.
Soon overwhelmed by the ‘baker’s bug’, Bill pursued his ambition and enrolled at the American Baking Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, graduating in 1957 and specializing in the art of making and decorating magnificent cakes of all sizes and shapes, created personally for all family occasions and special requests. Bill and Marlene were married in 1959, from which the happy couple embarked on an ambitious journey that included moving 17 times to various locations where Bill worked for 11 years in private bakery shops before settling down as a head baker for Safeway for five years. Over the years, Bill and Marlene received many delightful comments and questions about their name and their occupation, with the best coming from a pair of nice old ladies in Drumheller who believed that Bill changed his name to Goodbun when he became a baker. They always took it all in fun, but throughout his career, Bill always maintained that he did have the best buns in town.
In 1969, the Goodbuns arrived in Drumheller, where Bill started work as a baker at the local Co-op store. Along the way the children started to arrive, and as they began to develop what would be a life-time passion for swimming, Marlene and Bill became very much involved, and helped to start the first Drumheller Competitive Swim Club in the 1970s. In 1980, Bill was transferred to the busy Ponoka Co-operative Store to take over the management of the bakery department, but there was always that ongoing dream of opening his own store. It would finally become a reality on October 3, 1984 with the grand opening of Goodbun’s Bakery and Deli in the Harry Noble building next to the Post Office on 51 Avenue. Right from the beginning at the popular Ponoka shop, it was a total ‘family affair’, with Bill and Marlene leading the way, with lots of help from their girls, Jerry Lee, Billy Jean and Bobby Jo, whose names by the way were taken from the famous television show ‘Petticoat Junction.’ Over the hectic years of operation of the Goodbun’s Bakery and Deli from 1983-1997, the girls also got their boyfriends and schoolmates involved in the daily frenzy of flour and dough, while some of the dedicated staff included Byron Bloxham, Kevin Rowland, Wendy Gartner, Marlene Morriss, Adele Bartley, Margo Rost, Alice Picketts, Amber Jones and many others. The shop also had a ‘baby chair’ installed so that when the grandchildren or little visitors came along, they could sit and enjoy goodies while watching the all the action. As well as working long hours in the bakery, Marlene also became the first bus driver for St. Augustine’s School, and loved every moment it.
After coming from Drumheller to Ponoka the family also quickly got involved in the local Pool Sharks Swimming Club. Billy Jean (Rowland) was employed by the Town of Ponoka as a life guard at the Aquaplex in the early 1980s, and later coached the Sharks with her sister Jerry Lee (Reynolds). Bobby Jo (Christiansen) was the ‘stylish’ swimmer in that torrid threesome of water wizards, and after many active years on the Sharks team, she also took up the coaching reins, and carries on that proud family tradition to this day. Bill was a longstanding member of the Lions and Rotary Clubs, while along with Marlene, his wife of 55 years, have always been avid supporters and volunteers of the Pool Sharks programs over the years. As a favourite summer pastime for the past 38 years, they really look forward to working the morning shift when the club hosts the infield food booth at the annual Ponoka Stampede.
After selling the bakery in 1997, Bill and Marlene set up the food counter at Bed Rock Fitness, which was run by their daughter Billy Jean Rowland, and welcomed the public every day until 2007. During their retirement Bill and Marlene continue to stay as busy as they want, with Marlene crocheting and knitting and adding to the family photo albums while Bill still enjoys spending time in the kitchen and dabbling in oil painting, as well as together hosting family barbeques and pampering their five grand and two great-grandchildren.