September 21, 2016 will go down in Barrie’s history as an unprecedented evening that will not soon be forgotten.  The launch of the Barrie Historical Archive at the “Mayors’ Seat” event during Barrie Historical Week was a watershed moment for the City of Barrie, which up until this point has not had a dedicated, online municipal museum.  The uniqueness of the BHA is that it is online, free, accessible to all 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

But perhaps the most historical aspect of the BHA launch was the coming together of Barrie’s former Mayors for interview-style event at City Hall.  Never before and perhaps never again will all former Mayors be in one spot together like they were this evening.
The historic evening got underway at 7 PM to a standing-room-only crowd with a cinema-quality overture video that 2016-09-21-downtown-lorraine-morgan-daughter-of-former-mayor-les-cooke-shares-about-her-dad-at-mayors-seat-at-city-hall-2set an exciting tone for the night.  Narrated by former Mayors, the video explained why history was important and why Barrie’s history must be preserved.  Following the impressive opening video, former CKVR anchor, Michelle Rao took her place as emcee.  After rousing applause for each former Mayor as they entered, each former Mayor took five minutes to answer pre-arranged questions.  The daughters of the deceased Mayors paid beautiful tributes to their parents in place of their Mom and Dads.

The evening progressed, intermingled with impressive, interactive videos created by our outstanding design team.  I was honoured to speak and credit the incredible team of volunteers behind Barrie’s online museum.  Following the program, the Mayors’ Seat reception commenced in the City Hall Rotunda.  Chamber of Commerce CEO, Rod Jackson and Mayor Jeff Lehman assisted in cutting our inaugural cake as the crowds quickly flooded the room.

Once downstairs, attendees were treated to coffee, cake and refreshments and had the opportunity to visit a handful 2016-09-21-downtown-former-mayors-jeff-lehman-and-dave-aspden-share-a-laugh-while-barries-first-mayor-willard-kinzie-sharesof stations.  Rowell Photography operated a professional photo booth where civilians could have their picture taken with all of the former mayors.  BHA Designer, Tyler Steingard demoed the archive on a large screen while vintage film of Barrie in the 1940’s, unseen for decades rolled on an adjacent screen.  Other booths included fundraising stations where folks could purchase historic prints or find their Barrie Central Collegiate yearbook to take home.

2016-09-21-downtown-former-city-mayors-pose-with-scott-jackson-back-centre-at-the-mayors-seat-reception-at-city-hallAs I reflect upon the success of this evening, I can’t help but to be reminded of the incredible team of local historians, volunteers and donors that made this happen.  The BHA is 100% community funded and sourced.  If you want to see Barrie’s history continually preserved, free for all to access anytime from anywhere, please click on the yellow ‘donate’ button in the top right corner and join the legion of those in our community who are investing in our history.  If you are interested in joining our dynamic, multi-generational team or have historical materials to contribute, please email us at

For those who shared in “Mayors’ Seat” with us, thanks for coming.  The formation of the BHA ten months ago wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our incredible city and our generous donors.  From the bottom of our hearts, Thank-you!

Our journey has only just begun and the best is yet to come!

PS: For those who missed “Mayors’ Seat”, our video is included here as well as on our website, along with hundreds of incredible photographs from the event. Enjoy the program!

The photos featured in this blog and the Mayors’ Seat photo booth courtesy of  Rowell Photography

“I felt like I was at the Oscars.” – Mary Harris

“Probably the best historical presentation in Barrie I’ve ever seen.” – Councilor Sergio Morales (Ward 9)