The first bagels to make it to outer space

Who can be credited with opening the first bagel bakery in Montreal is a matter for some debate. As no historicalrecords exist, it’s impossible to know if it was Isadore Shlafman or Chaim Hyman who introduced the bagel to Montreal.

What we do know is that Isadore Shlafman opened his bakery in 1919, the year he immigrated to Canada. Unable to find work, the Jewish Russian immigrant decided to open his own business. He had brought over with him a unique know-how and the secrets of a recipe that would establish Fairmount Bagel as an iconic Montreal brand.

Shlafman opened the doors to his first operation in a modest building off a back alley on the Main. In 1949, he bought a small duplex on Fairmount Street West and relocated the bakery there. Today, 70 years later, that building still houses the family-run bakery, which is now headed by the third generation, Rhonda and Irwin Shlafman. Daniel, a fourth-generation Shlafman, is set to soon take over.

It’s been a hundred years since the first bagels came out of the oven, and nothing has changed in the way they’re made—rolled by hand, lightly boiled in honey-sweetened water, then baked in a wood-fired oven that burns 24 hours a day. The bakery cooks up 12,000 bagels in 18 varieties every day.

This long-standing traditional technique has cemented the international reputation of the Montreal bagel. They are enjoyed not only throughout this province but also in Israel, Japan and England. Such is their appeal that a Japanese tourist once arrived by limousine in front of the bakery holding a map with a dotted line leading from Osaka to the Fairmount Bagel shop!

Montreal-born astronaut Greg Chamitoff, Rhonda and Irwin’s cousin and also a huge fan of bagels, brought more than a dozen of these tasty treats with him into space.

74 Fairmount Street West