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Mid-Week Mugging: Campbell's British Food and Tea Room

Eat like the Queen with traditional breakfast or afternoon tea
Shop owner Ray Garrett poses with his huge bear that greets customers at Campbell's British Foods and Tea Room. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

You can't miss the giant stuffed bear when you enter Campbell's British Food and Tea Room. 

The 52-year-old original Meriweather Bear with his traditional redcoat once guarded Harrods Toy Store in London. 

"We flew him over from the U.K," said Campbell's owner Ray Garrett. "He gets looked after very well here. He finds it a bit cold," said Garrett, laughing. 

"Everybody wants their picture with him."

The shop has been on Burton Ave. for 15 years but Ray and his wife Jane bought it seven years ago not long after moving to Barrie from Britain. 

"My wife said, 'I want to own a tea shop' and the British Store came up for sale and I said no and she said yes. I said no again and she said yes again," Garrett said. 

"It was, I suppose, meant to be. It's been eight years of hard work and it really is a lovely little store. Very proud of it. It's all my wife's fault."

So the printer from London, England became the baker in Barrie and today he boasts the sale of over 5,000 of his meat pies a month made from traditional recipes. 

He arrives at work at 4 a.m. to fire up the ovens and start baking.   

English breakfast and afternoon tea are most popular at Campbell's. 

"English breakfast features your choice of meats - black pudding, square sausage or haggis - with eggs, home fries and toast. We do English bangers as well," Garrett explains. 

They offer a selection of 56 varieties of tea to sip with your afternoon tea that includes the classic cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, clotted cream with jam and fresh-baked daily scones. 

"I probably bake 80 to 120 scones a day," Garrett said. 

Despite being surrounded by a grocery section of British products and baking and serving traditional sweets and meals, Garrett still misses home.

But next Wednesday he and Jane will become Canadian citizens. 

"I don't know if it makes it easier or harder because I'm faced with Brits every day that make you feel homesick and then the food makes you feel homesick. So there's an element of does it make you feel better or keep making you yearn."

He does enjoy going home to cupboards full of British food but is torn whether it's a comfort or not for him. 

The joy of the business is the lovely people he meets, including some very loyal, regular customers.  

"One man comes in every day either for breakfast or lunch sometimes twice a day," said Garrett. "There's a 98-year-old couple whose been married for 74 years and they come in three times a week."

Last May, the Garrett's bought English and Miller British Tea Room in Barrie and moved it to Collingwood following extensive renovations in the space. 

"It's very cozy," said Garrett of the 3,000 square foot space that includes a giftware section. 

He says his wife and three children love it here in Barrie and despite being homesick, he too thinks the city is great for family life.

"It's the blend of Barrie to the city. You get a bit of city life," he said. "The nature - my kids enjoy the lakes in the summer, snow hills in winter. They're always busy. At home that would never be the case. They'd be stuck in front of the computer."

Campbell's British Food and Tea Room is located at 274 Burton Ave.


Sue Sgambati

About the Author: Sue Sgambati

Sue has had a 30-year career in journalism working for print, radio and TV. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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