Toronto

'A tradition for the city': Tiny Tom Donuts owner Tom Brazier dies at 73

Thomas Brazier, who owned Tiny Tom Donuts and delighted thousands in Toronto with his miniature fried treats, has died at age 73, the company says.

Mini-donuts have been a staple at the CNE for nearly 60 years

Tom Brazier had been looking forward to celebrating his 60th anniversary at the CNE this summer, a company statement says. Tiny Tom Donuts have long been a favourite at the annual Toronto fair. (Tiny Tom Donuts)

Thomas Brazier, who owned Tiny Tom Donuts and delighted Torontonians with his miniature fried treats for nearly 60 years at the Canadian National Exhibition, has died at age 73, his son says.

Brazier died peacefully Tuesday in a Markham hospital next to his wife Bonnie, said Adam Brazier, who said his father died of kidney failure after dealing with several illnesses.

Tiny Tom Donuts are a longtime staple of the CNE, which was cancelled this summer due to COVID-19. It will be the first time Canada's largest fair won't go ahead since the Second World War.

Tom Brazier was so grateful that his doughnuts "meant things to people," said his son, who called Tiny Tom Donuts "a tradition for the city."

"His favourite times at the CNE were when people would come up and say, 'When I was a kid, my father picked me up to watch these doughnuts being made, and now I'm here picking my kid up," Brazier told CBC Toronto.

"He would get that story three or four times a day. And nothing made him beam more than that."

Tiny Tom Donuts has been selling doughnuts for decades in Toronto. (Tiny Tom Donuts)

A 'generous spirit'

Brazier was a joyful man who loved the happiness that his doughnuts brought other people, said his son. 

Brazier added he will most remember his father's "generous spirit." He was an advocate for marginalized people, and "loved everybody," he said.

"Hs favourite thing to do was to laugh and make other people laugh," Brazier said.

"He'd always say ... if you arrive anywhere with Tiny Tom Donuts, suddenly everyone in the room is happy."

Tom Brazier spoke with CBC's Jill Dempesy in 2017.

"I think the secret is pretty simple. They're hot and they're fresh, and they're flavourful. They melt in your mouth," Brazier said at the time.

"And everybody likes a hot, fresh doughnut."

Born in 1946, 'he's Tiny Tom'

Brazier was born on July 24, 1946 and died Tuesday, June 3, said a statement on the Tiny Tom Donuts social media accounts.

Tom Brazier's uncle and father, Ron, owned Margaret's Donuts in Toronto, which was later sold and became Primrose Donuts, Adam said.

Tom Brazier had purchased mini-doughnut machines for his father, then later bought them back and established his own iconic business.

People have been eating Tiny Tom Donuts at the CNE for nearly 60 years. (Tiny Tom Donuts)

"He's Tiny Tom. It's him. He was the face of it and the hard work behind it," said Adam Brazier. 

Tom Brazier stopped making doughnuts himself about three years ago due to illness, his son said, and the company is now run by his son and daughter-in-law.

For decades, the CNE was the only time you could get Tiny Tom Donuts, said Brazier. The company later expanded to Canada's Wonderland, where it would have been celebrating its 27th summer; the Markham Fair; mobile spots throughout the summer; and permanent location in Markham.

"Tom was beloved by all who were blessed to know him," the company's statement said. "He was looking forward to celebrating his 60th anniversary at the CNE and the 27th year at Canada's Wonderland this summer."

Tom Brazier and his 'Tiny Tom family.' Brazier would have celebrated his 60th summer of Tiny Tom Donuts at the CNE this summer. (Submitted by the Brazier family)

'One dozen per bag, one flavour per dozen'

"Tom's family would like to thank the city of Toronto for making us a part of their summer tradition every year," the statement continued.

"The Brazier family will be carrying on Tom's legacy and looks forward to serving you his famous Tiny Tom Donuts again soon."

A 'golden donut' is awarded to Tiny Tom staff members after a decade of service at the CNE, says Adam Brazier. He says he is among the 25 people who've got one. Seven people have the 'golden diamond donut' after 20 years, he says. (Submitted by Adam Brazier)

Adam Brazier said his father was a "very tolerant man" who had a lot of hope in people. 

"What is happening now in the earth and ... in politics and everything, this was a very depressing time for him," he said.

The company statement Wednesday contained a parting quote from Brazier:

"One dozen per bag, one flavour per dozen."

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