Historical Locations

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A recent site visit provides glimpses into theatre's many glory days. Test, test and test again is how you de-risk an event so everything will run smoothly ... and that's just what we were doing in preparation for our Barrie on the Big Screen night when we were treated to some nostalgic moments at the Uptown Theatre. Since the doors first opened in 1937, this now trendy indie theatre has had a long history and [...]

“Hey Lang, you should go out of business more often!” shouted one jokester, but I doubt that that Lang even heard him over the drone of the kitchen exhaust fan, that was running full tilt, accompanied by the laughter and conversation in the packed small diner. Yes, they were here to patronize Lang’s business, but the real draw was long-time cook/server and familiar face, Anna, who was serving her last customers that Saturday, after an [...]

The ladies of early Barrie, along with all of their Canadian sisters, laboured under the most extreme circumstances each and every day. Corseted and coiffed in the restrictive fashions of the day, their clothing was equally unsuitable for the deep Barrie snow, the winds off the bay and the oppressive heat and humidity of summer. Yet they were expected to scrub clean and iron clothes for perhaps a dozen family members, keep a wood stove [...]

I wrote this review just a few months ago, as a salute to one of the time-tested eateries of Barrie that were still soldiering on. Sadly, for fans of the Crock & Block, this piece now seems like more of eulogy.  The Crock closed their doors this week for the last time. ****** "They're lined up out the door. Move faster!" These are words that no line cook wants to hear, not me anyway, on [...]

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 [...]

Prior to his passing in April 2016, Brian Baker was a well-known personality within the historical community of Barrie.  With multiple cameras around his neck at any given moment, he was Simcoe County’s unofficial photographer and a regular historical columnist for the Barrie Examiner for decades. Brian’s late wife, Margaret (Goodfellow) was a well-liked school teacher who begun her carrier at 13A Innisfil aka Huronia Public School before moving to Warnica Public School when [...]

When Mother Nature builds you your very own arena, complete with ice, lots of good lighting, enough space for a limitless audience and a surface twenty-six hockey rinks long, you make the best use of it that you can! Every winter, the cold northerly winds blew and the mercury plummeted and soon after, the waters of Kempenfelt Bay turned rock solid and remained that way for several months. The ice fishermen, skaters and those [...]

"If you are yearning for the good old days, just turn off the air conditioning." - Griff Niblack Janet and I arrived in Barrie on Sunday, September 1, 1963. We had been married the day before. It was a short honeymoon. I would start my new job on Tuesday. Our new home was on the third floor of an apartment building on Kempenfelt Drive. The apartment was now furnished with a card table, four chairs [...]

Every day can be historic with the City of Barrie's 2017 Waste Reduction Calendar, featuring images from the Barrie Historical Archive. The calendar provides important community information AND some incredible vintage photo's from Barrie's new online museum, the Barrie Historical Archive. "We were thrilled to partner with the City of Barrie on the calendar - it was a great opportunity to showcase just a few of our incredible photos of the community."  Calendars are not [...]

A small group had gathered at the end of the Waterfront Heritage Trail. It crossed my mind that I might be late. It was early afternoon and the sun was warm. The brightness reflected on the snow to create beautiful light, perfect for the photos I was about to take. Today was the opening of the Waterfront Heritage Trail plaque, and naturally the Barrie Historical Archive was present for the dedication. As I stood in [...]

A little park with a big history Over the course of Barrie's history, what is currently known as Memorial Square appears to have had an identity crisis. Originally Memorial Square was the terminus of the nine-mile portage between Kempenfelt Bay and Willow Creek which flowed into the Nottawasaga River.  This ancient trail was first used by the Wendat, whom the French then called Huron.  In map from 1688, it was labelled as "Portage de dix [...]

I parked several blocks away, in the lot beside the Barrie Public Library, where one of the H-Block houses likely stood, and pulled my coat tightly around me as I walked eastward in the direction of Collier Street United Church.  Sure, I could have parked closer, but on this blustery November day, I wanted to walk to church as the Barrie residents of yesterday must have done. I could imagine the fine ladies in their [...]

By Woody Woodland The pilgrimage that brought me to the grave site of my great uncle, Private AJ Blake, began long before I found myself at a Commonwealth Cemetery on the Somme, just outside Courcelette, France this past September with my 16-year-old son, Zachary. It began many years ago when I inherited his medals from my mother’s side of the family, obtaining them in the same broken-down box that my great grandmother would have received them [...]

A bird's eye view of Barrie over the past 70 years He may not be able to "read your mind" as the old Alan Parsons Project hit suggests, but Herman Koeslag, owner of Eye in the Sky Photography is still the leader of aerial photography in Southern Ontario and arguably, much of Canada. That's why we have been so thrilled to partner with him and his talents to build and enrich the contemporary photography represented in the Barrie Historical Archive. A born [...]

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