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Remember This? Oh the things that went down at Roxboro after the oysters were disposed of

That's when the literary chit-chat would commence

The Silver Star, a gentlemen’s lounge some might call it, closed this week amid mixed reaction.

This venue with the neon ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ sign in the window was the last remnant of the old Port of Barrie restaurant business that operated on Dunlop Street West near Five Points for some 50 years, I’m told.

Thirty years ago, my now husband and I were a young couple living above a shop on Dunlop Street East and living on very little money.

One of our luxuries was our ‘architectural tours’ which were walks around the downtown area to look at the lovely old Victorian homes.

This was followed by lunch of a Caesar salad and a glass of wine somewhere, most commonly at the Port of Barrie. This was living large!

The end of the Port era this week reminded me of the houses that were some of our particular favourites – 3 Peel St., 33 Theresa St. and 200 Collier St.

Two still stand.

Roxboro 1982Roxboro is pictured in 1982. Barrie Historical Archive

The fantastic old house on the corner of Collier and Dundonald Streets does not, which is a shame.

Admittedly, by the time I first saw it, the house on Collier Street was looking somewhat reminiscent of a movie set for a spooky film. It had that once grand but past its prime look, but I adored it nonetheless.

I knew nothing about the place, only that I was enthralled with its multitude of high Victorian details, almost as if it were a builder’s catalogue of every available feature that a late-nineteenth-century customer might want – porches and verandas, a side tower, porthole windows, fish scale shingles, beautiful trim and turned wood, all high on a hill which undoubtedly allowed for some fine lake views.

But who built this place?

Mr. Allan John Lloyd, a barrister and later County Clerk, a man with very refined tastes and a keen desire to mingle with the who’s who of Barrie, was the original homeowner.

He was an amateur actor and the chairman of the Barrie Literary Society during the mid 1800s and was likely eager to host fellow members Creswicke, Radenhurst, Lennox, Sanders et al, in fitting surroundings.

Just before Christmas in 1885, the Northern Advance reported that Lloyd had treated his fellow literary buffs to an opulent oyster supper at his residence.

“After the oysters, with their garnishings, had been disposed of, music and literary chit-chat filled up the passing hours and the cobwebs were brushed from the brain during the evening’s intercourse gave new zest to the next day’s life.” 

The grand home, christened Roxboro, was certainly the setting for many rich affairs after its completion in 1888. 

After the very posh Mr. Lloyd vacated the place, the next owner was not surprisingly another lawyer. Jeffrey Agar McCarthy moved his family into the home as he joined the well-known law firm which became McCarthy Pepler and McCarthy.

Surprisingly, Jeffrey McCarthy and his law partner, D’Alton McCarthy, were not related, but they were both Irish men, so the possibility for a distant connection is there.

As for the third law partner, Francis Edward Philip Pepler, there was definitely a family connection as F.E.P. or Frank, as he was known, was married to Annie Dora Bernard.

Annie was both D’Alton’s stepdaughter and niece as he had married his widowed sister-in-law when his own wife died.

Pepper HomeThe Pepler home is pictured at 113 Collier Street. Barrie Historical Archive

The Pepler home was not far from Roxboro.

A large and beautiful home in its own right, it still remains today at 113 Collier St.

I wonder did the esteemed lawyers walk to their law office just east of Five Points, or did they ride in horse and carriage?

D’Alton McCarthy had only a short walk down Bayfield Street from Carnoevar, his splendid house on Wellington Street East.

None of these fine men lived to be old men, nor did wealth prevent their families from experiencing the same griefs as ordinary working folk.  

Rae Brydon McCarthy, son of Jeffrey McCarthy, was killed at Vimy Ridge in France in 1917. F.E.P. Pepler’s lad Roger Crooks Pepler died near Ypres, Belgium in 1915.

D’Alton McCarthy passed away in Toronto in 1898, at the age of 61, after being thrown from a carriage.

F.E.P. Pepler passed away at age 47 in 1900, and Jeffrey McCarthy lived to be 55 years old and died due to a seizure while a patient in the asylum on Queen Street in Toronto.

Mrs. Jeffrey McCarthy stayed on at Roxboro for many years after her husband’s tragic passing and raised their children there. Notices of pleasant McCarthy wedding receptions at Roxboro can be found in Barrie newspapers up until the 1930s.

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.


Mary Harris

About the Author: Mary Harris

Mary Harris is the Director of History and Research at the Barrie Historical Archive. The Barrie Historical Archive is a free, online archive that centralizes Barrie's historical content.
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