Billy Courtice

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About Billy Courtice

Billy Courtice is the Chair of the Barrie Historical Archive. Otherwise, he is a writer, reader and rampant ice cream eater who makes a living in strategic communications.

On May 31, 1985, a devastating tornado touched down in Barrie and left eight dead, hundreds injured and countless homes and businesses in ruins. Despite the passage of time, for survivors, there are some scars that will never fully heal and memories that will never fade. The following is a collection of comments and recollections from Barrie residents, aggregated from social media channels and our own inbox. To share your story, feel free to email [...]

They were just two. But to all, they were many. Willard Kinzie, to some, was the "Milk Man". To hiking partners, he was "Titanium Man". Officially, a mayor, a businessman. But also a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather. A fellow parishioner. A walking guide, a restaurateur, a curling skip. A storyteller - sometimes, for a little too long! Ross Archer too, was a mayor and businessman. Also a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Also a weekly [...]

"Here's another one of Borden. Some more on Borden here." And so on, and so on it goes. Sitting with Ann Campbell, she lifts one voluminous book after another onto the dining table before us. Ann, who traces her ancestry to the McCutcheon family of Florence Street, Barrie, has invited me to her handsome Newmarket home. We're surrounded by boxes of family photo albums and precious keepsakes. And while Ann and her family have amassed [...]

Mary Harris tells the history of buildings in Barrie's downtown core. Exposed to the stiff fall breeze, a large group of warmly dressed people looked south from Homestead Bakery and Artisan Cafe and took in a view of Kempenfelt Bay that didn’t exist 60 years earlier.  The group huddled around our own Mary Harris, ready to embark on the organization’s second annual Places in Time walking tour on Saturday.  Harris directed everyone’s attention [...]

This marks the third installment in an exciting blog series for the Barrie Historical Archive, made possible by archive supporter Diana Strachan. Check out the preceding blogs here. Last time, we felt Peggy Newman’s anticipation for the Barrie Central Collegiate formal dance and heard about her adventures with best friend Joyce Little. Today, we hear about her late-night out at the dance (along with her impressive dancing skill!), and learn about an exciting new course she [...]

This is the second instalment in a new blog series for the Barrie Historical Archive, courtesy of archive supporter Diana Strachan. Catch the first instalment here. After settling in Barrie with her sister, auntie and uncle, we see a snapshot of 16-year-old Peggy Newman finding her way in a new town. In these letters, Peggy details friendships she’s made since enrolling at Barrie Central Collegiate, many of which, according to her daughter Diana, would last [...]

This piece marks the first in a new series for the Barrie Historical Archive, courtesy of archive supporter Diana Strachan. Strachan’s mother, Peggy Newman, was just 16 years old in July 1940 when she, along with her younger sister Joan, set sail from the United Kingdom to join her Aunt Rhona in North America. Peggy’s parents had sent the children to live safely, with their father’s sister and her husband, Alan Childs, as war broke [...]

Wish you were here. A simple sentiment that, at one time, was likely entirely overused. At one time, when distance was a real thing. When entering into someone’s company, regardless of spatial separation, wasn’t as easy as booking a cheap fight to any corner of the world. When our best friends, even from far-off places, weren’t just a click away. After all, there are very few instances today in which we really wish you were [...]

Members of the BHA celebrate their group award from Heritage Barrie. All the Barrie Historical Archive wants for Christmas is...you! Cliche? Maybe. But in earnest, we want you in 2018! We would be amazed if you shared your historical photos/documents with us. Elated if you offered us your time as a volunteer, or as a member of our board of directors. Honoured if you supported our cause with a monetary gift or recurring donation. [...]

It's just a tiny, clapboard building in Oro-Medonte, just a few kilometres from Barrie's city limits. But it's left a HUGE impression on our community. Now, learn about the HUGE undertaking required to restore the church, first constructed more than 170 years ago, at the Barrie Historical Archive's monthly meeting. Join us on Wednesday, November 1 at 7 p.m. at The Creative Space to listen to a presentation from Mike Rekker, a consultant on this extensive engineering project. "Some [...]

Steadily, Rayner McCullough walks me along Elizabeth Street. Hines grocery, then next to the that, a meat market. Next, an empty lot next to Central United Church on the east side of Toronto Street, where he played in the mission band. Just seconds later, we make our way to old Allandale, en route to a hardball game at Shear Park on Holgate and William Streets. There, his eyes light up as he sees Webb’s menswear [...]

Local graphic artist and entrepreneur, Tyler Gooding is making history – quite literally – with typographic Barrie-centric art. Having long appreciated the graphic art depicting the names of streets and locations in other famous towns, Gooding asked: “Why not Barrie?” The result: Stunning typographic art posters paying homage to some of Barrie’s most historic streets. Gooding’s new business, 67 & North – with a name inspired by Canada’s year of Confederation – launched a month ago with a [...]

Danny Stephens walked 47 miles of barbed wire. He used a cobra snake for a necktie. And finally, in his rendition of the Bo Diddley/Ronnie Hawkins/George Thorogood classic, he asked the 70 patrons at our Help Pay the Rent Event: Who do you love? At the end of the night, with more than $1,000 donated, the response from the audience became clear. They love the Barrie Historical Archive. At the November 16 event, members of [...]

You remember the ‘Don’t Pay A Cent Event’, don’t you? Perhaps you piled the kids into the back of your sedan to drive them down to the cavernous Leon’s showroom to pick out a new bedroom set. Or maybe you were one of the kids, chasing your siblings around seven-seater sofas or testing coil-spring mattresses for the sake of quality assurance. Whatever your reality, one thing was undoubtedly true about the grand furniture sale at [...]