(In 1956, Silas Bradley opened Bradley’s Insurance on Main Street in Stittsville. In this photo taken in the early 1960s, were: (l to r) Silas, Mary Jane (nee Argue), Jean (nee McCoy), young son Ross and Sid Bradley. Family photo: Bradley collection.)
The name Bradley is a long-time familiar name in our town of Stittsville. Albeit there are different arms to the Bradley clan, most of us older residents know, grew up with or are related to many of the family members. Having said that, and being fortunate to grow up with and be related to some, on a personal note, this Editor is extremely pleased that the Bradley family will be recognized with an official naming of the trailhead entrance to the Trans Canada Trail on Friday, July 8 at 3:00pm – to now be known as Bradley Square. A commemoration worthy of the dedication and support for the years of devoted service and charity the Bradley family has shown to our residents over the years.
Allan Ryan, past councillor of the former Goulbourn Township, Past-President of the Stittsville Business Association and the 2021 Roger Griffiths Memorial Citizen of the Year, is instrumental in bringing this recognition to fruition.
Allan shared with Stittsville Central, “When I first approached our city councillor, Glen Gower, with this idea, it was quickly endorsed by Glen. He and his staff have been excellent to work with from the beginning of this project to the end, and I truly want to thank Mr. Gower for working so hard to bring this project to fruition for both the Bradley family and for our Stittsville community“.
“The naming of this Square, in the heart of our Main Street for the Bradley’s, was simply the right thing to do and will serve as a family legacy for the significant contributions they have made to the Stittsville business sector and to the fabric of our community. Small businesses and local ownership are so important to the success and growth of any community and Bradley’s Insurance was a shining example of exactly that for Stittsville”, Allan emphasized.
“The Bradley family have throughout the years provided financial donations to the Ottawa Heart Institute, the General Hospital, Kanata Hospice Care, not to mention the many minor hockey teams they sponsored here in Stittsville, a family who have always given back to our community and beyond,” ended Ryan.
Ross shared with Stittsville Central, “my family and I are honoured, yet humbled, with this recognition in the hometown where we all grew up…but it is the community that shares in this”. “As a business that had been here for over 60 years, it was our dedicated clients that allowed us to support the many local events such as the parades and Canada Day festivities, to the kids playing on minor sports teams and associations such as the Stittsville Lions Club and Rotary Club”.
“It is the people in these associations and organizations who deserve the credit – they volunteered many hours over the years to build the character and sense of community in Stittsville that we know today – we were fortunate to be able to help with the provision of funds”.
“I want to thank Allan for spearheading this project, Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor Gower for bringing it all together. Our family is truly honoured,” said Ross.
A slice of history on the Bradley family business –
Silas Bradley was born in 1898 and married Mary Jean (nee Argue) on September 24, 1930. They had four children: Sid, Helen, Beth and Grace.
Silas’ commitment to the community all started back in 1956, when Silas, (a mover and shaker of his day), was seeking a new challenge after retiring from dairy farming. This new chapter in his life would see him founding Bradley’s Insurance and working from a rented one-room property on Main Street. Bradley’s Insurance went on to be an institution in our community for 63 years.
Silas was well-known and greatly respected for his hard work in our community – having been an elected officer for the Hazeldean Loyal Orange Lodge No. 246; prior to serving as Reeve of Stittsville, Silas served as a member of the South Carleton School Board and served as Chairman in 1958; Master of the Hazeldean Masonic Lodge; elected Warden of St. Thomas Anglican Church; Justice of the Peace for Carleton County; and a charter member of the Stittsville and District Lion’s Club. He also served as Reeve for eight years when Stittsville became incorporated in 1961 after having been a police village for five years in the Township of Goulbourn – the first and only of two reeves of the incorporated Village of Stittsville from 1961 until 1968. As Reeve, Silas saw Stittsville established as a municipality on a solid financial footing. He also presided over a period of time when there was considerable new building taking place in Stittsville. So you see, Silas was not just any dairy farmer, he was smart and extremely involved in our community – always in leadership roles.
Silas’ son Sid joined his father at Bradley’s Insurance in 1959. With politics playing an interest in Silas’ life, he passed the business to his son Sid who took over the reins and grew the business. Sid in a lot ways followed in his father’s footsteps. He, too, was always looking for a challenge. He is a chartered member of the Stittsville and District Lion’s Club. His interest in and ownership of race horses (pacers specifically) brought much activity to his life in earlier years and to the Bradley farm. He started a real estate company and was an enthusiastic outdoorsman being a member of the Lake St. Patrick Hunting and Fishing Club for several decades. Sid has always been community-minded and through Bradley’s Insurance could always be counted on to support our many local sports teams, charities, service organizations, special events and golf tournaments. Sid played on the local hockey teams and spent hours playing 18 holes at the local golf club, the Glen-Mar at the time, when my Uncle, Glen Scott, opened the course.
Back in 2019, Sid and this Editor were reminiscing about the business and other changes in Stittsville and I asked him how he felt about the sale of Bradley’s Insurance, “sad, but it is time to sell”. “It has grown to several branches and a larger staff from Renfrew to Ottawa’s east, Quebec and eastern Ontario that Ross (his son) is managing, but he (Ross) is ready for retirement – well has other business interests”. Whoa, not Ross – retire?! Ross took over from Sid by purchasing the business in 1998 and was instrumental in branching the business out to the various locales in the Ottawa Valley, further east and beyond. He is the third-generation of the family to enter into the business. There is a fourth-generation too, Ross’ son Branden, joined the business to follow in the footsteps of his Dad, Granddad, and Great-Granddad.
I mentioned to Sid their famous Wawanesa calendar from the 1950’s and 1960’s. He laughed, “boy we mailed them out to all of Stittsville back in the day and god help us if we forgot five or six families on our list – we would definitely hear about it!” ‘Back in the day’ everyone in Stittsville was insured with Bradley’s who sold Wawanesa insurance at the time. I know my parents always looked forward to receiving ‘the calendar’!
When Bradley’s Insurance was sold to Brokerlink in September, 2019, the personal service Stittsville residents have experienced for years continued. Ross sent a personal note to all of his loyal customers, past and present, thanking them for ‘their patronage over the past six decades’. He also thanked his employees for ‘the work and dedication which has contributed to our success’.
When this Editor thinks back to all that not only Bradley’s Insurance has done for our community, but Silas, Sid and Ross too, it is most deserving that the family be recognized with a park in their name. But not just any park, Stittsville’s trailhead entrance to the Trans Canada Trail on Stittsville Main. a trail that leads people in a new direction, just as the Bradley family assisted and led by example for so many people here in Stittsville. Their family legacy lives on.