Jack Garner’s boyhood recollections of our town were many. He was particularly familiar with the area around the Barrie Allandale Dairy during the 1940s and remembered how undeveloped the neighbourhood was during that era.
“At that time there was nothing but a field on the east side of Eccles Street right up to Wellington Street. It was a former apple orchard and there were still some great wild apple trees in the field. It was a great time to be a kid.”
Times were changing though. In 1949, the Barrie Allandale purchased the equipment that it needed to homogenize milk.
Two years after that, the five remaining dairies in Barrie, namely Barrie Allandale, Lakeview, Norris, Smith Farm and Pure Milk, all agreed to reduce their delivery schedule to five days a week, eliminating Wednesdays and Sundays.
Prior to that, their milk men had been on the road seven days a week, from before sunrise to 8 p.m. on occasion, serving a radius of 20 miles, including Camp Borden.
As the 1950s came to a close, the world of small local dairies was changing more drastically. Consumers were now enjoying shopping for all of their food stuffs under one roof in groceterias and supermarkets supplied by big dairy companies.
Robert Hodges still lived at 118 Sophia St. W. in 1959 but he was no longer a dairy man but a real estate agent instead.
In 1961, Sexton’s Sheet Metal and Heating relocated from their previous Codrington Street shop to the former dairy building on Eccles Street adjacent to the dairy house on the corner. For a time, the Hodges also shared their house with two business tenants, Northland Dura Clean and Silver Jewel Enterprises.
1962 saw local milk delivery reduced even further to three days a week. Most people had modern refrigeration in their homes by then and no longer required more frequent delivery. In 1968, only two local dairies remained; Lakeview and Smith’s Farm.
In 1971, Sexton’s was gone and the former dairy building on Eccles Street was vacant. It was demolished a few short years afterwards.
Rob Bellamy, another great fan of local history who enjoys sharing his memories of Barrie had this to say about the years just after the demolition of the old dairy building.
“Barrie Allandale Dairy was located at 75 Eccles St., Barrie, now a small apartment building. The Dairy building was actually built over top of Kidd’s Creek which ran under the South-East corner of the building. In my youth I caught many Speckle Trout in a little honey hole inside the culvert under this building - but this took some courage, as the abandoned building was infested with rats. In fact, when they tore down the building our neighbourhood was very busy trapping rats - which didn't take long to correct the problem. There's an interesting story which follows this Barrie Allandale Dairy, it goes like this: The Dairy purchased a team of older horses from the Barrie Fire Dept. to deliver their milk. One night there was a fire & this team of horses, hearing the fire bell, broke stable and ran to the fire dept. - So the story goes.”
Robert Hodges passed away in 1970 and his widow, Margaret, remained in the home for a while afterwards. By 1974, it became the home of the Shepherd family, Tom’s grandparents. A little while after that, Tom and his family moved into the home as well.
Many happy memories were made in this house during those years. The creek running through the backyard was a great source of joy and entertainment, so much so that Tom sought out and bought a home in Montreal with the same natural feature.
Our kind host, Dorothy, showed us around her property with pride and Tom was touched by the love that has clearly been put into the place. Delightful gardens of flowers, herbs and vegetables line the babbling creek.
Not surprisingly, numerous old milk bottles have surfaced in the area. Just prior to our visit, a large bottle with a broken neck appeared. It bore the words H.W. Taylor Cranston Dairy. Dorothy presented it to Tom who plans to clean it up, repair the jagged edges and display it in his home.
As we departed, Tom and Dorothy made plans to meet up again in autumn. Tom is going to take a small cutting from a lilac bush in the back yard which was planted by his grandmother.