Name: Jonathan Snelgar

Title: Owner and Head Baker

Organization/Business: Nelson The Seagull

Social: @nelsontheseagull

What do you do and how did you get here?

I own Nelson The Seagull and I am the head baker there. We (my sister and I) came to Canada about 7 years ago, just around the time of the Olympics. I had finished university and my sister was wrapping up a job in London. It felt like a natural starting point to try something new, so we ended up in British Columbia. The choice made sense as we were both born Canadian but culturally, we are South African.


What inspired the name and concept?

The concept is reflective of what’s happening a lot right now in Capetown with big open rooms and a feeling of being at home in the kitchen. The name was inspired by a well-known South African folk song called “The Seagull’s name was Nelson”. We didn’t want to be this tacky South African themed café but anyone who is South African will know who owns the place.


If you had 15 minutes only, in Gastown, how would you spend it?

I would probably go to Revolver and get a coffee and then check out Old Faithful Shop around the corner.


What do you love about the neighbourhood?

It feels like the most diverse neighbourhood in the city, with a lot going on, all the time. It’s not spotless and that’s something I like about Gastown. It has an edge and is forever interesting. The best restaurants and coffee shops are here.


What’s your most memorable happy moment or experience in Gastown?

Two of my best friends, who met for the first time in Nelson The Seagull, just got engaged last week. She is a customer and the guy is my friend from back home. He intially came for a visit and then ended up staying and working in the shop. Without the café, they wouldn’t have crossed paths.


What’s your philosophy for a good life?

Keeping it simple and putting things in perspective. I struggle to achieve these and to try each day to find a balance. We live in the best city in the world. Nothing is ever that bad, genuinely, and unless you’re losing someone, everything has a solution.