In 1948, 13-year-old Ray Lothian started work at the Carlyle Bakery - and seven decades later, he's still there and still going strong.
Lothian's legacy goes beyond longevity, however. And Saturday, June 16's “Ray Day” celebration proved that, as family members, friends, customers, former co-workers and employees - past and present - paid tribute to a man whose work ethic is only outmatched by his kindness towards - and respect he earned - from everyone he encountered during his amazing - and ongoing - career.
Former employee and retired teacher Barb Swanson of Kenosee Lake was one of many who praised Ray as an employer.
“He was one of the best bosses I've ever had,” says Swanson. “I worked for him for four years and he was my first boss. Three of the kids in our family worked for him and I remember he gave me a beautiful candle as a grad gift. He was just so thoughtful and such a good boss.”
A former co-worker of Ray's who travelled to Carlyle especially for the celebration agrees, adding: “I worked with Ray in 1956, when Mr. Elgar owned the bakery. Ray was always, always working; always, always smiling and always, always getting along with the other employees – and it seems as though that hasn't changed.”
“I'd say I've easily worked with over 200 people in the bakery,” says Lothian. “We took it over in the 70s and I'm proud to say that our employees seem to stay and I see a few of them are here today.”
Lothian says of his beginnings at the Carlyle Bakery: “We baked bread by the fire, and we had no sewer and water when I started, so I had to haul water from about a block away and I had to haul wood, too. There was no sliced bread and everything was done by hand.”
Since then, the bakery's output and product line has expanded, with Carlyle Bakery cinammon buns and fruitcake earning iconic status, with fans both near and far.
Hundreds of congratulatory messages were gathered for Lothian, including accolades from Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and the province's Lieutenant Governor, W. Thomas Molloy.
In his letter, Premier Moe referred to Ray as “an integral part of the Carlyle Bakery” and lauded his contribution to “our way of life and the Saskatchewan economy.”
Lieutenant Governor Molloy extended his “congratulations on 70 years of service to the Carlyle Bakery” and thanked Lothian for his “outstanding commitment to excellence.”
However, for Ray, the work - and his family - are reward enough.
“I'd like to thank Steven (Lothian) for keeping the bakery going and Wilma (Lothian), Elaine (Porter), Jacky (Lothian) and Laurie (Day) for putting this day on.”
“For me, the best kind of exercise is working and I want to keep on working while I can,” he says.
“It will always be Raymond's bakery.”