Deanna Clark – Economic Development Officer, United Counties of Leeds and Grenville
KEMPTVILLE – One of the country’s longest-operating commercial heritage brick ovens is proudly located here in the heart of North Grenville.
Grahame’s Bakery owners Rick Grahame and sister Debbie Wilson are the third generation to keep the fire burning in the famous circa-1885 oven. They enjoy how locals and fans from throughout the Ottawa Valley fondly call their bakery a meeting place, a destination and an institution. Their unique oven, beautifully restored in 2009, is as famous as the baked goods that come out of it.
“It’s not just a loaf of bread,” says Debbie. “It’s a loaf of bread baked in a wood-fired 131-year-old oven. It’s the real thing and people want that. Some of our recipes are over 50 years old.”
Rick and Debbie grew up within the “warm and fuzzy” atmosphere of a family-owned bakery. They didn’t realize it as youngsters but they would later take over the business after their father Ken passed away in 2005. Today, Rick’s kids, Wesley and Leah, help out as does sister Cindy and nephews Owen and Deiter Colfe. Family ownership dates back to 1960 when their grandfather Leonard Grahame bought it. He knew what he was getting into as he’d worked at the bakery since 1939 with then-owner Bert Frisby. First and second-generation Grahames Leonard and Ken worked side by side until 1978.
Their location at 115 Clothier Street has been a working bakery for over a century. The Grahames carry on a tradition of strong community service as well. When the ice storm of 1998 hit the region, all perishable foods from area stores were brought to the bakery to be cooked and then distributed. The family worked day and night to ensure food wasn’t wasted and people had access to hot meals during the extended power outage.
Customers are loyal. “We’re a meeting place. People come in for conversation,” says Debbie. Word spreads and then new clients discover their products, she says. “When they find us, they say they wish they’d have found us sooner.”
Rick is most often found in front of the oven in the open-concept bakery. It’s part of the experience. He is proud of their all natural, no preservative products. “Keep it small. Keep it simple,” says Rick. Grahame’s is known for their butter tarts, apple fritters, scones, dipped and stuffed donuts, cookies and bread, to name just a few items. They sell to retail outlets and restaurants throughout Leeds Grenville and are also known for promoting neighbouring businesses to their customers.
“We make people feel welcome,” adds Rick. Learn more about Grahame’s by visiting their website or Facebook page. Call them at 613-258-2317. Book early for special orders at peak holiday times. A cash only operation, they are open Tuesday to Saturday 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.