When I met Lorne Hart I never put two and two together. I honestly never realized that he was THE Lorne Hart, who founded Hart’s Brewery Company in 1991. I always knew years ago that Lorne was way ahead of the current trends of craft beer. Long before some of these hipsters were opening their craft beer drinking palaces Lorne was negotiating a contract to brew and market the “brewtiful” Dragon’s Breath Pale Ale Company for a small brew pub in Kingston, Ontario.
The Montreal native made Carleton Place the town to be when he opened up Hart’s Brewery. He initially looked at Almonte, but Mayor Melba Barker welcomed Hart’s Brewery with open arms.Things have changed now. Years ago the LCBO levies etc. were staggering, and they financially crippled small breweries. But now, taxes and levies are lower, and the LCBO is encouraging small brewers. To those that think he is out of the game, you would be mistaken. After all, life is too short for boring beer brands. Lorne is heavily involved with the Ashton Brewing Company that operates out of the Old Mill at Ashton near Carleton Place.
I sat there and scratched my head– Lorne bakes too? I guess the British had it right when they maintained that every soldier was entitled to at least a pail of ale and a loaf of bread per day. No matter what the recipe, not just any baker can do wonders in the kitchen with some good ingredients and an upbeat attitude. The former naval petty officer has worn many hats. Managing director for the National Press Club, commercial real estate, Hart’s Brewery, and owner of The Old Towne Bakery in Carleton Place for the past 10 years.
I was curious to know what leads a man to become a baker. During his stint in real estate he saw that the bakery on Lake Ave West was for sale. He interned for a few months and realized like the beer business, it was all about the yeast. With my history in bread baking I beg to differ, but Lorne jumped in hook, line, and bakery pan, and never looked back. But as he says, “Remember the other persons job may appear easy, until you try it”.
Like every other business, stabilizing and making a profit is the number one goal. He is officially retired, but he views the bakery as a challenge. When the country’s tides in business grew grey, he jumped in and became the head baker once again. Lorne is not afraid to face a challenge. That is evident.
If you are looking for gluten free The Old Towne Bakery is not the place to go. Unlike a lot of restaurants I have seen, Lorne understands that a true gluten-free product needs a special working area and pans. He knows all about cross contamination. So, he guarantees the health of celiacs and leaves that to others.
In 2014 he restructured, redecorated, and introduced a pudding cake, chelsea buns, and raspberry pound cake among other things. I know as well as everyone else there is no bread like the Old Towne Bakery in Carleton Place. Want a little bit of heaven? Their raspberry filled cookies are so good they are always in hot demand. Did you know the Olde Towne Bakery also sells frozen pizza dough? It makes a delicious homemade pizza that anyone can make!
The High School kids come in every day at lunch and visit their adopted Mum Kathy. They buy fresh made sandwiches, and big cookies. Kathy says they are all good kids. But, be polite in your actions and manners, as she jokes she knows all your Mothers. Running late? Don’t forget to pick some up some homemade soup. Remember the way to a man’s heart is with bribery!
Lorne really is The Happy Baker and posts daily good thoughts on The Old Town Bakery Facebook page. He recently posted that after a hectic Easter Weekend, last Thursday and Saturday, the town cleaned them out. Now they are all busy little beavers baking to restock their shelves.
The man with the smile always speaks well of people and hates gossip. When I asked how he would change the downtown area he told me a story. The town hired a consultant in the 1990’s under Brian Costello’s watch on how to improve the Main Street. The consultants first words on the report was that, (and I will put it nicely) it wasn’t the most attractive Main Street in the area. As Lorne says the street needs cohesiveness.
Lorne and his bakery love the community and the town loves them. To those wanting to go in the bakery business he has these thoughts,
I got up early this morning ( 3:30 AM) a baker’s life is an early to bed early to rise sort of thing. Remember this, early to bed early to rise, makes you tired.
Funny, I never saw a tired bone in his body!
The Old Towne Bakery
73 Lake Ave. West