As time seems to be moving forward faster and faster, we can easily lose track of the vast history and heritage that Downtown Barrie has – over 200 years of it! Did you know that the Nine Mile Portage starts at Meridian Place and Memorial Square and was an integral travel route during the War of 1812, but actually dates back to the pre-Huron era. Furthermore, because of our proximity to the water and railway, Downtown Barrie has always been a regional hub that has been built up, burnt down and built up again. To help slow time down, we wanted to recognize, relish and remember our many historic and heritage buildings, properties and public areas within the Downtown and so we created a pewter ornament collection that has been sold through some of our Downtown stores for 18 years now.
We are excited to announce that the 18th heritage ornament in the collection will showcase the Lakeview Dairy located at the original location of 185-205 Dunlop Street East right on the water’s edge. The property was originally founded by the Thomas Bros. in 1884 and was later purchased by Willard Kinzie in 1947. It has a great history of food production and restaurants and a complete recollection is etched on the back of the ornament. The Lakeview Dairy property is currently owned by Aalto Developments and is moving through the development process and eventually will transform into a premium residential condominium.
You can purchase individual ornaments or a complete gift box set at the following locations in Downtown Barrie and area. Barrie Public Library, Bill LeBoeuf Jewellers, Everleigh Garden, Mantiques, Metzger Studio, Our House, MacLaren Art Centre, Summer House and the Simcoe County Museum. More information can be found at downtownbarrie.ca.
Let’s reflect on our deep historic roots as we build upon and look forward to the future of Downtown Barrie!
2002: Allandale Railway Station (circa 1905)
For more than a century, Allandale was the hub of central Ontario’s rail transportation. Considered the flagship of the Grand Trunk Railway, in 1905 Windsor architects Spier & Rohns designed the three buildings: a passenger depot, a restaurant and an office building each to match the beauty of the shoreline setting. Each was linked by an open breezeway and featured a tower waiting room with a commanding view of approaching trains. From the first arrival of the Ontario, Simcoe and Huron railroad in Allandale in 1853 and until the decline of the Canadian National Railway passenger service in the 1980s, Allandale was a major railway centre. This landmark building is a legacy of that history.
2003: Barrie Town Hall & Market Place (circa 1856)
Toronto architect Joseph Sheared completed an impressive building in the market square at Mulcaster and Collier. Area farmers were desperate for a market building. Town Council, just 3-years-old, needed a place to meet. Public weigh scales were installed and merchants rented stalls to sell their wares. The building was the heart of the community. Remodeled in the 1870s in the 2nd Empire style, the new Mansard roof and tower were decorated with patterned slate and fanciful ironwork. Converted to City Hall in 1959, it was demolished in 1985 when a new City Hall was built. The outline of the 2nd Empire design is mimicked by the towering metal arch that still stands over Mulcaster Street.
2004: Royal Victoria Hospital (circa 1903)
Barrie’s first hospital opened in the 1850s with four beds and was incorporated in 1891 as Barrie General Hospital. In 1897, the High Street home of Reeve R.E. Fletcher was converted to a 13-bed medical unit and the name was changed to Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. In 1903, a new 35-bed unit equipped with modern technology was built on Ross Street. By the late 1960s, RVH had expanded to 315 beds. Construction of RVH’s new Georgian Drive location began in 1995 and opened in 1997 with the support of residents. To date, the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre specializes in cancer and critical care, surgical and mental health rehabilitation services as well as women and children’s programs.
2005: Carnegie Library (circa 1915)
Construction of Barrie’s free library building at the southeast corner of Mulcaster and Collier began in August 1915. Designed in the Beaux Arts Classical Revival style by Toronto architects Chapman & McGriffen, it was built with the assistance of the Carnegie Corporation Trust Fund. When a fire in December 1916 closed Barrie Collegiate Institute, the former library on Owen Street was converted to classrooms and the unfinished new library was occupied in January 1917. It was enlarged in 1964 and used until a new library opened in 1996 at the northwest corner of Owen and Worsley. Protected by the Ontario Heritage Act, the Carnegie Building now serves the community as the Maclaren Art Centre (est. 2001).
2006: Barrie Fire Hall
Completed in 1875, this is the second fire hall at the southwest corner of Collier and Mulcaster streets. The fire hall built on the site a decade earlier burned in one of the many blazes that devastated Barrie’s downtown. The wide doorways allowed the horses and water pumper to enter. On the second level was an apartment for the fireman on duty and rooms for the volunteer fire brigade. The tower was necessary for hanging the long fire hoses inside to dry. At various dates, the building also housed municipal offices and a police lock-up. It was enlarged before being demolished in 1978.
2007: The Opera House
On the south side of Collier, just east of Clapperton, were the ground floor remains of Barrie’s magnificent Grand Opera House. Simcoe County Treasurer Sidney James Sanford financed the construction of the Opera House in 1895. His gift to Barrie was later revealed to be a $63,000 shortfall in the County’s accounts. Sanford moved to South America where he made a fortune in mining and repaid all his borrowed wealth. Professional and amateur theatre, Vaudeville and silent films were popular at the Opera House. Talking films were new when the building was partially destroyed by fire on November 6, 1926.
2008: Wellington Hotel
About 1841, David McCausland built a frame and roughcast plaster hotel at the northwest corner of Elizabeth St. (Dunlop St. West) and Bayfield St. It was later enlarged and known as Summersett Hotel. A fire in July 1876 along Bayfield St. destroyed the building and several others on the north side of Dunlop St. West. The following year, the brick box-like Wellington Hotel was built at the corner. Although succumbed to fire in 2007, the building will be a landmark at Barrie’s unique intersection known even in the 19th century as Five Points.
2009: Barrie Arena
Also called Dunlop Arena, the Barrie Arena was located at the corner of Dunlop St. West and Eccles Ave. Built in the early 1930s, the Arena was funded in large part by William Wright, the founder of today’s Globe & Mail. The Arena hosted the OHL’s Barrie Flyers (1945-1960) and served as the city’s main hockey venue until the 1995 opening of the Barrie Molson Centre. It was also briefly used by the Barrie Colts in their inaugural season. Dunlop Arena was demolished in the fall of 2008 to build the city’s new fire station.
2010: Mulcaster St. Armoury
The Grey and Simcoe Foresters Regimental Museum is located in the original 35th Simcoe Foresters Armoury at 36 Mulcaster St. which was built in 1887. The museum offers a variety of artifacts from the 1800s and from both World Wars. Foresters are a very old form of infantry finding its antecedents in Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest. The Grey and Simcoe Foresters were formed from the 1936 amalgamation of the 31st Grey Regiment and the 35th Simcoe Foresters both originally gazetted in September 1866. In September 2000, the 1909 colours were reclaimed by the Regiment and laid up in the Regimental Museum.
2011: Simcoe Hotel
Originally known as the Simcoe House, then as the Simcoe Hotel and now known as the Flat Iron Grill, this iconic building is located at Barrie’s Five Points intersection. The original building was established in 1857. In 1876, it succumbed to fire and was rebuilt with brick and enlarged. During the 1880s as the Simcoe House, it was the main stagecoach stop for the growing town attracting people on the move. Today, the building is considered the most recognizable structure in Barrie and is arguably one of the most unique buildings in the world due to its flatiron style architecture. Image courtesy of Simcoe County Archives.
2012: Memorial Square
Memorial Square is located at the junction of Dunlop St. East, Owen St. and Simcoe St. Ten years after the railway came to Allandale, the tracks were extended to Barrie and the Station Gore was built in 1865. In 1884, a new Post Office was built on the Dunlop St. frontage. In 1922, the Cenotaph was erected on the site’s west corner known as Post Office Square. Renamed Fred Grant Square in 1957, in honour of a local historian, the Post Office building was demolished in 1958. The Station Gore was torn down in 1963 and the site was renamed Memorial Square in 1993.
2013: Barrie Central Collegiate
At the corner of Bradford St. and Dunlop St. West, Barrie Central Collegiate is the oldest school in Simcoe County. Founded as a grammar school in 1843 in the Mulcaster St. Court House, it moved to Blake St. in 1849. Upgraded to a high school in 1873, the larger facility opened in 1879 and was renovated in 1914. When destroyed by fire, the school moved downtown in 1919. Since moving, the school has had two name changes: District Collegiate (1943) and Central Collegiate (1973) along with numerous expansions (1929, 1952 and 1963) and an exterior facelift (1973). As Barrie continues to grow, the Central site remains integral to downtown revitalization and can be envisioned as an education hub.
2014: Steele’s China & Gift Shop
Steele’s China & Gift Shop once stood at the corner of Bayfield and Collier Streets. Built in 1881 as a blacksmith shop for the (James) Barr & (William) Henry Carriage Works, expansion of the modernly equipped building was completed in 1884. In 1947, Samuel & Sybil Steele arrived from Newfoundland and later opened a china shop in the Carriage Works space. After finishing at Barrie Collegiate, their son Harris took up the family business. The china shop thrived in the 50s and 60s with visitors stopping while on route to cottages on Georgian Bay or in the Muskokas. A champion of downtowns, Harris Steele passed away at the age of 76 (d. 2007). The years took a toll on the century old building and despite being historically significant, the China Shop was torn down in 2009.
2015: Court House Hill (circa 1910)
Construction of the Court House began in 1841 and occupied a commanding site on top of the Worsley Street hill. Serving as the administrative centre for the newly established Simcoe District, very few admired the building and groundskeeping. The Court House was enlarged and renovated in 1877 with improved landscaping The building was remodeled in the 1940s before it was demolished in 1977 to make room for the existing Court House and Land Registry Office complex.
2016: Old Barrie Gaol
In 1837, the Simcoe District was established and authority was given to build a Court House & Goal (Jail). Construction of the Jail began in 1840. Built from Lake Couchiching limestone, the Jail was designed to make inmates feel less confined. Once complete, however, there were several ways to escape. So during construction of the adjacent Court House the Jail’s roof was reconfigured. More improvements were ordered in the 1860s including adding the east wing, outer walls and replacing a portion of the original castellated central section with the present roof and lantern. In 1968, the province took over management. The last inmate was transferred in 2001.
2017: Queen’s Hotel
The Queen’s Hotel, located at 94 Dunlop Street East, is the oldest hotel in Barrie. This Georgian style building opened as the Barrie Hotel in 1850 by Edward Marks. The original namesake, Queen’s Hotel, was located down the street and was built as a log tavern in 1832 by John Bingham. In 1915, this tavern was destroyed by fire allowing for the renaming of the current Queen’s in 1924. Ironically, in a village still without brickwork, Edward Marks made the bold and expensive decision to build out of brick. Current owner and former Mayor, Rob Hamilton, has operated the Queen’s for over 40 years; a period through which it has remained a favourite among locals and known as a gathering place for homecomings.
2018: Prince of Wales Public School
Prince of Wales Public School, formerly known as the West Ward School, was a long-time fixture on Bradford St. near Dunlop St. West. Originally built as a six-room school house in 1876 by the Loan & Strong Company, it was expanded in 1919 and renamed the following year to commemorate a visit from the Prince of Wales to Canada. In 1947, the school’s population peaked to 624 students which required another addition & renovation in 1949. However, forty years later the school’s population lessened to under 200 students as Barrie grew and families moved into subdivisions. When Prince of Wales Public School closed in June 2011, it was 135 years old and the oldest elementary school in Simcoe County.
2019: Lakeview Dairy
Once located at 185-205 Dunlop St. East, this historic property was founded by the Thomas Bros. in 1884 and purchased by Willard L. Kinzie (the City of Barrie’s first Mayor) in 1947. Throughout its history, the Lakeview manufactured many products including bread, whipped cream, ice cream, juices and non-carbonated beverages. In 1951, it became one of the first Ontario dairies to motorize its delivery fleet. In 1961, the Lakeview’s original Dairy Bar was replaced with a modernized waterfront restaurant which included a store, bakeshop and the Colonel Sanders KFC franchise. In 1962, the restaurant also became one of the first Barrie eateries to serve pizza. This historic piece of property has sat vacant for several years and has the opportunity of being an exciting development along the waterfront.