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Major Thomas Gray

Grays Bakery Staff c.1922
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In the early 19th century there was no specific native-born wheat grown in Canada. At that time farmers were struggling with Siberian wheat, prone to disease and low yield. Then around 1840 a Glasgow man took a sample of wheat, possibly of Polish or Turkish origin, found in the hold of a ship docked in Glasgow and sent it to his friend David Alexander Fife living in Peterborough County Northern Canada.  Within a few years, Mr Fife had changed the landscape of Canada forever, when Red Fife wheat as it was then called became the mainstay of world food production.
Between 1842 and 1900, Red Fife and its genetic variants grew in popularity as a reliable spring wheat because of its resistance to rust, early maturing, high productivity and excellent milling and baking qualities.

Doorway to the bakery room on Chapel Street.

Meanwhile in Carluke in the 1881 Census we have a Thomas Gray,  Master Baker living in Chapel Street. He was aged 32 and employed 2 men, 1 boy and 1 girl in the bakery, which was a thriving shop near the corner of High Street and Chapel Street delivering to the township.

Thomas was also a Saturday Soldier in the Lanarkshire Yeomanry, formed in the 1860s when it was believed the French were likely to invade Britain.
Being a man of importance now in Carluke, Thomas was probably promoted due to his being a shopkeeper and by around 1885 he was known as Major Gray commanding  G Company 9th LRV (Carluke)  His brother Johnnie also enlisted becoming Quartermaster Sgt. Family Tree .

By 1891 it is recorded in Hamilton Advertiser that Major Tom Gray and D Company muster at the Public Hall and march to the Established Church for Sunday service there to listen to a most eloquent address from Rev. J. W. Wilson. There were 47 present of all ranks.

By now he is known around town as Major Gray and letters arrive simply as Major Gray, Carluke.

Lord Newlands letter

Indeed this picture shows a letter from Lord Newlands paying £6 on account for the bread and cakes  Major Tom was producing. By this time the Gray Bakery was doing quite well and the next three letters show his communication with flour suppliers in Glasgow



Smith and McKay
Craighall Milling

On the left can be seen a letter from Craighall Mill in Port-Dundas and on the right is a letter from Mowat Brothers.  The Brand names are Excelsior, Minnesota, Ozima, Odissa, Lilian, Chancellor and Australia at prices ranging from 26/6d to 31/- per sack.


Mowat Bros.
John Mitchell

Here John Mitchell & Co is offerring Union brand at 22/9d & Minnesota brand flour at 26/6d.  The next is a good example of McConnell & Reid of Waterloo St bending over backwards to get his business. White Carnation and Sweet Violet are the brands in question.


McConnell & Reid
Read more stories from the People section
The Grays of Stonehouse Cross (the next story in sucession)
Andrew Hamilton Looking Back
Carluke Family Names in 1751
Carlukes Early Sculptors
Dixon Vallance
Dr Hunter-Selkirk

Created before 2012