Rosemary and Tom met on the first day of Grade 9 at Barrie Central Collegiate and remain the best of friends today. Rosemary still lives in her hometown but Tom has moved on and now resides in Montreal, but that doesn’t stop him from coming back to Barrie about twice a year to visit family and friends.
As for Rosemary, she loves this city, particularly its quirky side, and she relishes the more unusual tales from its storied past.
Recently, when Tom was due back for another visit, the pair decided to plan a little guided historical walk through the oldest section of Barrie with a focus on Tom’s childhood home in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood. That’s where I came in.
Tom grew up in what was long known as the ‘dairy house’ at 118 Sophia St. W., at the corner of Eccles Street.
I know it well. I walk past about once a week as I head to the nearby Wellington Plaza for groceries and I admire it every time. The tiny brick house has received several additions over the years and has undergone some recent and stunning renovations which perfectly blend Victorian and modern.
My intention was to leave a letter in the mailbox of the home in hopes that the owner might be interested in speaking to Rosemary and Tom. Of course, I forgot the letter. However, all was not lost as I met the homeowner, Dorothy, outside and she was quite open to meeting the pair of walkers.
Naturally, I wanted to learn all about this so-called dairy house. I started at 1921, just over 100 years ago, although the spot was likely associated with dairy goods production before that.
At that time, two brothers named Henry and James Roberts were living in the house and running the Barrie Dairy. This was just one of many small dairy businesses in town at the time. Other dairy operators included George Coles, Allandale Clearview Dairy, J. McQuarry, A.G. Walker, Mrs. Daley, F. Pemberton (Lakeview), Mrs. Hogan, and Charles Robertson.
A year later, G.E. Barker had taken over the Barrie Dairy but he was not there for long. In 1923, Norman E. Ineson, a longtime dairy man from Toronto, and his brother-in-law, Fred Clarke, bought up most of the small independent dairies of the town and formed one entity – the Barrie Allandale Dairy.
The headquarters of the newly created business was the property at 118 Sophia St. W. By all accounts, it was a very well-run place. Dr. Little, working on behalf of the Ministry of Health, visited all of the dairy locations in Barrie in 1924 and commented that the Barrie Allandale Dairy was clean and had been pasteurizing their milk even though that process was not yet mandatory.
In 1928, Mr. Ineson gave up his interests in the Barrie Allandale Dairy to run the Lakeview Dairy at 185 Dunlop St. E. He installed a new manager in the Barrie Allandale Dairy, Robert D. Hodges, another of his brothers-in-law.
Robert Hodges also came from dairy people. His father, Edward Albert Hodges, had farmed near Toronto, and latterly at Caledon before moving to Barrie in 1929. E.A. Hodges was the actual owner of the dairy but the running of it was left to his youngest son, Robert, who was about 20 years old at the time.
Robert lived across the street with his parents at 121 Sophia St. In 1925, his elder brother, John Hodges, married a neighbourhood girl, Ruby Wiles of Eccles Street, and the couple lived in the dairy house until around 1936 when Robert married Margaret Ann Beriault. Afterwards, John ran a dairy operation in Midland.
In 1934, E.A. Hodges was elected alderman for Ward 4 but his service was short as the 70-year-old died in office later that year. Mrs. Hodges continued to live at 121 Sophia St. W., until her own death in 1946.
The Barrie Allandale Dairy was frequently advertised in the local newspapers. An ad from 1935 noted that the dairy sold milk, cream and whipping cream and that “There is a red wagon on every street every morning before breakfast.”
The late Jack Garner was an active community member, merchant, local politician and keen promoter of local history. He often shared his valuable memories of his youth during the 1940s.
“I used to help out cleaning the stables. We were given an Eskimo pie (ice cream bar) for our efforts. Mr Bob Hodges also had a cheese factory on the site. I used to help out there also, cleaning up. The cheese rolls were about 12' in diameter and about 6" thick I remember. Bill Laking, oldest of the Laking boys, worked there in the summers. Great times !!!!”
Each week, the Barrie Historical Archive provides BarrieToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past. This unique column features photos and stories from years gone by and is sure to appeal to the historian in each of us.