Cream Filled Doughnuts - Doohers - ©

Ancestral Bakery Named Canada’s ‘Sweetest’

My dad’s side of the family came to Canada in the1830s from the extreme north of England and settled in what is now Eastern Ontario to milk dairy cows and make Cheese. Imagine my surprise and delight to find my ancestral town’s favourite bakery in the national news spotlight this week!

Making the Doughnuts - © Brighton NowGranddad Dooher helps out making the Doughnuts at Canada’s Sweetest Bakery…

When my grand dad’s family went to ‘Town’, they went to Campbellford, smack in the middle of Eastern Ontario’s Dairy Belt. When my family (the first to have lived their whole lives in the Big City of Toronto) went down to the old ancestral farm in the summers to stay at the little green cottage by the river, we always stopped in Town for groceries, a new fishing lure for Dad and some sweets from Dooher’s Bakery on historic Bridge Street. They’re in their third generation of family ownership and operation, and still make the same mouth watering treats from old family recipes that they started serving up almost 70 years ago.

Famed locally for their Doughnuts, Date Turnovers, Nanaimo Bars and Butter Tarts, Dooher’s has always been a must-do stop for anybody when they come to town for any reason. Now, this cherished ‘local treasure’ has won national fame as Canada’s Sweetest Bakery for 2018!

Dooher’s current matriarch, Cory Dooher, took over the operation from her dad a few years back, but she tells Brighton Now, “Dad still comes in and works occasionally. We had a big order the other day and lots of cookies to do…we sold 4,000 donuts on one Saturday. Generally speaking, they are gone by noon. We just can’t make them fast enough.”

How’d they do it?

Bakery supply firm Dawn Foods held a contest from April 1 to July 31 this year in which they invited folks to vote online for their favourite local Bakery. Almost 300 bakeries from across Canada were entered in the competition.

Angie Goldberg, Chief Marketing Officer for Dawn Foods, told Food In Canada: “As part of our longstanding commitment to helping our customers grow their business, the goal of this friendly competition is to help boost sales, drive traffic in-store and make our customers’ bakeries top of mind in their local communities.”

Cory Dooher was as surprised as anyone that her family’s humble enterprise won the contest: “It’s an incredible feeling to be named the Sweetest Bakery in Canada. As a third-generation owner, I know my grandparents – who started Dooher’s in 1949 – have been watching over us. We’re completely lost for words and can’t say enough to the community that supported us throughout this contest and to our amazing staff. We couldn’t have done this without them.”

Warning lights flashing…

I hate to bring it up, but there is a dark side to this otherwise bright, happy story. I can just see the Big Bakeries, which supply the supermarket chains with their mass produced, additive-riddled, bland baked goods, banging on Dooher’s door to license their recipes, or even just their name, in an effort to capitalize on the honour it’s customers have bestowed upon Dooher’s in the contest.

Then, there will be the franchise gurus who seek to make millions for themselves by putting a homogenized, washed out, corporatized ‘Dooher’s Bakery’ shop on every corner, right across from the Tim Horton’s. A pox upon them!

But perhaps worst of all, I fear that dear, drowsy, quaint old Campbellford will become one of those weekend destination towns that people flock to, just for something to do. I hate the thought of Bridge, Front and River streets (the ‘downtown core’) sprouting boutiques and tea rooms, and a whole lot of other ‘attractions’ that simply shouldn’t be there, to cater to city gawkers. I’ve seen it happen before, to other Eastern Ontario towns, the most ruined of which include Perth, Merrickville and Lanark.

I caution the municipal council to pass a bylaw NOW, against the licensing and establishment of any untraditional – unnatural – enterprise in Campbellford for all eternity. Don’t screw up my beloved ancestral town!

~ Maggie J.