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THEN AND NOW: Corner Cupboard owner dazzled ladies with his cake-decorating skills

This ongoing series from Barrie Historical Archive curator Deb Exel shows old photos from the collection and one from the present day, as well as the story behind them.

Corner Cupboard Bakery — 45 Dunlop St. E.

The old Glebe Block still bustles like it did in the 1870s.

The shops and businesses on the south side of Dunlop Street East, between Five Points and Memorial Square, have come and gone countless times in more than 150 years, but it’s still a thriving section of Barrie's downtown.

This parcel of land was first allocated to the Church of England as a glebe in 1836, but the property was leased out instead of used for church purposes. A glebe is a church-owned property providing income.

By 1852, the glebe system had been abandoned and the land passed into private ownership. The wood buildings and stores on the glebe block at that time faced the bay, not the main street.

Fires in 1868 and 1871 took care of those wooden structures and in 1871, when the new buildings went up, they were brick or roughcast and they faced onto Dunlop Street.

THEN AND NOW: Corner Cupboard owner dazzled ladies with his cake-decorating skills

Strolling along this same stretch in the 1950s, you would pass places like Laura Secord Candy Shop, the City Café, Robinson Hardware, Simmons Furs, and the Corner Cupboard Bakery.

The Corner Cupboard had previously been a tea room, located where Simpsons once operated. Russell Bloomfield took over the business in 1947, opening the Corner Cupboard Bakery and Delicatessen. The new shop offered a complete line of fresh baking daily, cooked meats, dainty salads, and pastries.

In 1948, Bloomfield moved his business a little bit east to where Jackson’s Grills cigar bar would later be.

All the baking for the busy little shop was done at their bakeshop on East Street, but by 1951, Bloomfield recognized the advantages of consolidating his operations in one site and moved everything to 45 Dunlop St. E.

Bloomfield was a popular guest speaker around town and in nearby communities, giving inspiring and interesting faith-based talks at local churches, and baking-themed presentations to Women’s Institutes, Lady Lions and other organizations.

He dazzled the ladies with his cake-decorating skills — creating roses, sweet peas, apple blossoms, violets, daffodils, storks, bluebirds, shells and marshmallow bunnies.

While Bloomfield conducted his cake- and bread-making demonstrations, he talked about the quality of ingredients – Russell used only natural, unbleached flour (not white) that was reserved for him at the milling company. Bloomfield willingly explained his tools, sharing baking tips and secrets with his audience.

But perhaps the best part of having Bloomfield speak to your group was getting to eat the cake he had just decorated for you.

Bloomfield was also known to be generous to his employees, whether it was hosting a turkey dinner including gifts at Christmas for all his staff and their families, or chartering a coach to take staff, relatives and friends to a picnic at Little Lake Park in Midland. You can bet the food would be good!

Now, so many years later, the former bakery of Russell Bloomfield is still known as a destination for yummy stuff with the Olive Oil Co. taking up residency.

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