Bairstow's parents are both musicians with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and he was exposed early the arts. By age 10, he was on the Canadian children's series "Okay, Let's Go" and while in high school took musical theater classes with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Bairstow ventured to the USA for a summer at age 17 to work as an apprentice at the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. A stage acting role in "A Study in Scarlet" landed him a New York agent and he ventured to the Big Apple to work. What he found, instead, were restaurant jobs and a work as a day player on the ABC soap opera "All My Children."After a year, Bairstow returned to Canada where he starred in a Manitoba staging of "Our Town" and directed several Gilbert and Sullivan productions. He was seen by a talent scout and signed for a TV pilot in Hollywood, but the series was not picked up. Nevertheless, Bairstow was signed to a one-year development deal with ABC. In 1992, he appeared in three Dr. Pepper TV commercials, but the ABC deal did not yield work. Bairstow finally made his US primetime debut in the 1993 CBS TV-movie "There Was A Little Boy," playing the son of Cybill Shepherd. Bairstow was in a memorable as a faith healer using his powers for both good and evil in a memorable 1994 episode of "The X-Files" (Fox). That same year, he inherited the role of Newt (originated by Rick Schroder in the miniseries) in "Lonesome Dove: The Series." as well as the lead in his first feature, "White Fang 2: Myth of the White Wolf" (1994). Again, the young actor replaced a better-known one (this time Ethan Hawke). Bairstow went on to appear as a alienated teen who falls victim to a group interested in the occult in "Black Circle Boys" (1997). On the small screen, he starred as the leader of a group of teens who kidnap and accidentally murder a hated high school teacher in "Killing Mr. Griffin" (NBC, 1997) and as Henry, a confused twentysomething in the unsuccessful series "Significant Others" (Fox, 1998).