Monadnock Moments No. 36: The Butternut Bakery

During the 1920s and 30s much of the bread used in Keene and the surrounding area was baked in a small bakery on Cottage Street in Keene.
Thomas Duchesneau opened his Butternut Bakery in 1908.  At that time he and one assistant were baking 100 loaves of bread daily.  Mr. Duchesneau’s ¬Butternut Bread was popular and the business soon began to grow.
By 1928, the year of the bakery’s twentieth anniversary, Mr. Duchesneau had enlarged the bakery and was employing twelve men.  At that time the bakery was turning out 15,000 loaves of bread weekly, in addition to 200 dozen rolls and 50 dozen doughnuts each day.
Much of Mr. Duchesneau’s success was undoubtedly due to his distribution procedure.  All of the Butternut baked goods were marketed in Cheshire County.  The company had three delivery trucks, each taking to the road at any early hour every day so that the stores and restaurants in the county would have fresh baked goods each morning when they opened for business.
The sight of Leo Duchesneau, son of Thomas, making his rounds in his doorless delivery van is still a fond memory of some Cheshire County residents.  Leo removed the door from his van so that he could exit and enter the van more quickly at his numerous delivery stops.  Summer and winter, rain and snow, Leo could be seen traveling the roads of Cheshire County with no door on his Butternut delivery van.
The Duchesneau family continued the business for several years after Thomas Duchesneau’s death in the 1930s.  The Butternut bakery was last listed in the Keene city directories in the 1940s.