What began for Rosemary Brazeau as a bucket list opportunity during an interrupted career quickly turned into a happier, simpler stage in her life.
Brazeau and her two sisters Carol and Joan, are the namesake three sisters of the Three Sisters Bake Shop and Cafe.
Ten years ago, the 57-year-old Brazeau was a high-flying sales and marketing exec for a big corporation, flying every week to Chicago, New York, Atlanta, with two phones and a pagers.
“I was like Pavlov's dog,” she remembers. “Every time one of them rang I couldn't answer it fast enough. I practically salivated.”
She was fast climbing the corporate ladder, that is, until 2008, when the financial market crashed and Brazeau's business dried up overnight.
“God had another plan for me,” she explains.
Brazeau decided it was time to focus on her family and build her bucket list business, opening the original Three Sisters bake shop with her sisters on Kilborn in 2011. Months after opening, it was obvious she needed a much larger space, eventually moving to Arch street around the corner in 2016.
She knows exactly why her cafe has been a success.
“I like people,” she says. “I wanted to create a place I was comfortable in with my kids for a hot chocolate.”
“I come from a big Irish Catholic family with 140 first cousins,” she adds. “Anytime I visited Calabogie, everyone in town knew me. I wanted the same feeling here, a spot where people could run into each other.”
Located in the unlikely heart of Elmvale Acres, in a small strip mall across the street from Canterbury High School, Three Sisters looks like a general store you might find in cottage country. At nearly 1,700 square feet, there's room to breath. Besides coffee, they serve regular and vegan breakfasts and lunches and pastries galore. They also cater. There are also coolers of locally prepared frozen meals from Les Fougeres. Find their menu online at www.threesistersbakeshop.com
Oddly, there's no WiFi, television or other electronic distractions. Unlike other coffee hubs, no one is watching TikTok videos on their phone. Brazeau laid the ground rules for her cafe on a sign posted on the wall, (and here, I'll paraphrase) “We don't have WiFi. If you want to communicate with someone, talk to the person sitting beside you.”
You would think that by not offering WiFi, Brazeau was risking commercial suicide, but you'd be wrong. Customers seem to enjoy the quiet hum of people chatting in the background.
Brazeau's hosted more weddings, birthday parties and family occasions than she can count. Former mayor Jim Watson used to host casual meetings over coffee here.
“A lot of women arrange their first dates here,” Brazeau says smiling. “They'll even ask me what I think of their date, and we'll talk. I like that. I want this to be a safe place for woman and kids.”
With all the good vibes she generates, Brazeau concedes there are times she finds owning and running a coffee shop challenging. She logs, on average, 70 hours a week. However, she regards the time as an karmic investment in the community and some goodwill.
“There have been times in my life when things didn't go so well and people have been so kind to me, beyond kind, and I want to be that now. Help when I can. I've been blessed. There are a lot of lonely people, particularly seniors. I want them to feel at home here.”