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THEN & NOW: Dunlop Street East

By 1897, Thomas Sidsworth employed eight people year-round and needed two wagons to supply his many customers

This ongoing series from Barrie Historical Archive curator Deb Exel shows old photos from the collection and one from the present day.

Dunlop Street East — T. Sidsworth & Son 

Thomas Sidsworth, revered for his successful business experience in many large U.S. cities and reputation as a self-made man, had the top bakery in one of Barrie’s finest downtown stores.

His father, George Sidsworth, started the bakery business in 1850, and Thomas took over in 1872, immediately building the business.

An advertisement in the Northern Advance in 1873, read:

“WANTED – A BOY – GOOD AND Strong as an Apprentice to the Bread and Biscuit Business. None but a boy from the country need apply. T. SIDSWORTH”

Shortly after assuming control of the company, Sidsworth lost everything in a fire in the 1870s. At that time, records indicate that the bakery was located on the north side of Dunlop Street between Clapperton and Owen streets. 

In 1879, T. Sidsworth was promoting his biscuit, pastry and confectionery business in the premises next to Graham Bros. Dry Goods (the Cheap Cash Store), offering to fill orders for bridal or other festive occasions and providing meals at all hours of the day or evening.

By 1897, Sidsworth was boasting a stylish new store at 127 Dunlop St. E., in the Boys Block, as well as a large bakery on McDonald Street which employed eight people year-round and needing two wagons to supply his many customers.

Regular advertisements in the local paper invited customers to visit Sidsworth’s bakery in their new location opposite the Queen’s Hotel and enjoy confections, fancy breads and cakes, as well as their dainty ice cream parlour and elegant soda fountain.

The Northern Advance wrote: “It is doubtful if a more beautiful confectionery store can be found in northern Ontario than the one fitted up and now occupied by Messrs. Sidsworth and Son, next to The Advance office. The fine plate glass windows deftly and artistically arranged, attract much attention, and the interior, with the lofty ceilings and ornamental shelves, with other appointments in keeping, renders the establishment a point of general attraction.”

Then on July 5, 1900, the following notice appeared in the Northern Advance:

‘FOR SALE OR RENT. Store with Dwelling flat overhead. Nos. 125 and 127, Dunlop Street, opposite the Queens Hotel. The store is all newly furnished with wall show cases and counters for confectionary, ice cream etc. The building is fitted with all modern conveniences. Terms reasonable. Apply on the premises, THOS. SIDSWORTH.’

It would appear that Thomas, his wife Eliza and most of their seven children had moved to the west coast, as the society pages report Mrs. Sidsworth and son Grover visiting from Vancouver as early as March 1902.

Shortly after their relocation to British Columbia, their son Thomas Alfred drowned off the steamship Humboldt in Seymour Narrows, Alaska, in 1905. Thomas Jr. was an assistant purser on the steamer that was travelling from Seattle to Nome.

It’s unclear how he came to be in the water – a passenger saw him swimming toward the boat early in the morning and sounded the alarm, but by the time the boat had turned back to get him, Thomas could not be seen and the body was never recovered.

Thomas Sr. continued to live out his days in Vancouver until he passed away in 1913. He and Eliza, as well as other members of the Sidsworth family are buried at Barrie Union Cemetery.

Today, it is still a beautiful building.