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COLUMN: Famed Barrie bakers began in Bradford

In 1899, John Bryson and family to Barrie and purchased property at 14 High St., opening Bryson Bros. Bakery
Bakery: While this photo is not of the Bryson bakery, it nonetheless is reflective of what an early 20th century bakery would have looked like inside.

For a half-century Bryson Bros. Bakery was a fixture in Barrie.

The company founders, John Stewart Bryson, wife Agnes, and younger brother and junior partner James Bryson, got their start in Bradford.

But not as bakers.

Indeed, there was nothing in any of their backgrounds to suggest future success in the baked goods industry.

John and James were sons of Daniel Donald Hattan and Rebecca Bryson. Scotland-born Daniel immigrated to Canada where in 1854 the 31-year-old married Rebecca White. A year later John was born. James followed five years later.

The Brysons were farmers. John and James grew up raising livestock, not cakes and breads.

On Nov. 21, 1876, John married Agnes Rennie. Five years his senior, Agnes was the daughter of Robert and Jessie Rennie, early Bradford pioneers. John and Agnes settled into life as farmers in West Gwillimbury and raised a family of five – daughter Jessie, sons Albert, Harry, William and Edward.

For more than two decades, the couple seemed content to work the land.

But then something happened. Life took a different direction. And for reasons we don’t know.

In 1899, John and the family to Barrie and purchased the property at 14 High St. Here, partnered with James, he opened Bryson Bros. Bakery.

Despite a lack of experience in the industry, the business took off. Demand was high as bread constituted a far higher portion of one’s diet in those days than today. Bread was denser than it is today, and more calorific – ideal for working-class people.

Soon, the bakery was employing several workers and John branched out to open another, related business in Barrie, a combined tea room and ice cream parlour. Breads and sweets for the tea room came from the bakery. It, too, thrived.

James seems to have disappeared from the business because by the time John dies in 1919 the bakery is assumed by James’ eldest son, Albert.

The bakery thrived for several decades beyond.

Baked goods made the Bryson name well known in Barrie, but they got their start in Bradford.