The Grahame family have been worthy inheritors of a long baking tradition on the site. It is hard to know exactly when the wood-fired oven was first installed in the building that houses Grahame’s Bakery today. Alphaeus Patterson bought the building from Thomas Hicks, his father-in-law, in 1885 for $1,000. Patterson had been operating a business out of 16 Clothier Street East, the present location of the South Branch Bistro, before moving up the street. But when he sold his business to John McBride in 1888, the property included “All implements & fixtures connected with bakery business village nor within 10 miles thereof, etc.”. It seems the bakery held a monopoly in Kemptville and for ten miles around, yet McBride only paid $1200 for it, not much more than Patterson had paid three years earlier. That may imply that the bakery and the oven were already in operation when Patterson bought the property from Hicks. As of now, there’s no way of knowing; but it is certain that the present oven, used almost daily over the past century and a half, dates from before 1885.
The bakery passed through a number of owners, until Andrew Robinson bought it in 1900. He maintained the business until he sold it to George Eager in 1917, who passed it on to James Eager in 1921. The next year, Bert Frisby arrived in Kemptville from the Isle of Man, equipped with an entire collection of recipes for breads and cakes and other bakery goods. Bert Frisby ran the bakery from 1922 until 1960, when he retired and sold it to his assistant and apprentice, Len Grahame. Len had worked with Bert since 1939, using Bert’s recipes and learning the trade. It is a tradition that has continued through three generations of the Grahame family and looks likely to continue through a fourth, building on a long tradition going back almost 150 years of Kemptville history.