To mark 200 local history stories in BarrieToday’s 'Remember This?' column, I have taken a look back and created a list of my all-time favourites, which wasn’t easy. So many cool people, places and events in Barrie’s past!
- The 1896 murder of John Strathy at Ovenden and the trial of Michael Brennan.
- Silent pictures and arson came to town with the Guthrie family.
- That time when the KKK came to Barrie and tried to blow up a church.
- Sidney James Sanford, respected citizen and financier of the Grand Opera House, vanished.
- James Carruthers was the first man hanged at the Barrie Jail.
- A loud crack of gunfire signaled the beginning of the gunfight on the government dock
- The chimney sweeps of old Barrie took on a job that was hazardous, low-paying and underappreciated.
- In 1947, the town of Barrie still had 205 households using an outhouse. Those who cleaned them were known as night soil men.
- Glen Ormond sure is a beauty and, fortunately for us, she still stands.
- Roxboro was once the site of fantastic soirées held by the Literary Society of Barrie.
- A 2017 fire tried to destroy Lilac Villa but failed.
- Springbank was the grand home of the Burton family, later Simcoe Hall and then the IOOF Seniors Home of today.
- Evidence of the fire that destroyed the original Simcoe Hotel in 1876 is still visible.
- The peaceful Gables Park is named for a house which had some odd people in its history.
- Fortune teller Madame Larkin was convicted of arson but somehow never saw it coming.
- When he died alone in the Clarkson Hotel in 1927, Thomas Baggs was called the ‘Mystery Man’.
- They say he once ran his route of 60 miles in a single day. So goes the legend of Deer Foot the mail carrier of nineteenth century Simcoe County.
- Percy Pelch was a colourful thief, jail breaker, fugitive and regular guest of the Barrie Jail.
- D'Alton McCarthy, lawyer, politician and avid horseman was struck down in a carriage accident in Toronto.
- The extraordinary story of a British military officer and his Chinese born wife Amoi Chun Bird.
- Brewer James Anderton died suddenly while camping in his apple orchard. Was it an act of God or something else?
- The site of the Grand Opera House on Collier Street is said to be haunted by more than one spirit.
- The stuff of tall tales or an actual prehistoric creature? The truth behind Kempenfelt Kelly continues to fascinate.
- Allandale widow Christine McKenzie met a dangerous man through a lonely-hearts newspaper ad and has never been found.
- Theatre magnate Ambrose Small disappeared in 1919 and his eccentric sisters got into some bizarre situations themselves.
- In 1900, members of the T. Eaton family breezed through town in a new-fangled automobile contraption.
- In 1949, a flying object known as a helicopter, landed downtown.
- The people of Barrie were thrilled to see their first airplane in 1913.
- In 1922, Oscar Reid opened the first funeral home in Barrie.
- Bobbed hair and permanent waves gave rise to the dawn of hair salons in Barrie.
- In 1885, the people of Barrie were very excited to be part of the new telephone technology.
- Pizza was popularized by Second World War soldiers returning from Italy. It took a little longer for it to catch on in Barrie.
- After the First World War, camping for leisure became popular in Barrie.
- Early dentistry wasn’t pretty but it was necessary.
- Until 1900, Barrie folks listened all their music live. That changed when the phonograph came to town.
- When a freed slave wished to write his will, he found that he needed a name other than simply George. George Darkman’s will was the first probated in Simcoe County.
- After shoemaker Nicolas Cotter’s wife and only child died, he offered his home as a children’s shelter.
- Bloomer Girls were daring young ladies having fun on their bicycles while protesting the restrictions of Victorian clothing.
- The welcome mat wasn’t immediately out for Chinese immigrants in Barrie.
- Some people are still forced to make their homes outdoors in places much like the Jungle of the 1930s.
- The last man hanged at the Barrie Jail. Only 17 years old when arrested, Lloyd Wellington Simcoe was Indigenous and possibly intellectually disabled. What if he was innocent too?
- E.B. Crompton was the Corset Man . He ran the Golden Beaver, a dry goods and clothing shop, at Owen and Dunlop Streets until joining his brother in manufacturing corsets.
- 42 Dunlop Street East still bears the name Craig's in mosaic tiles. John Craig was a tailor and 3-time mayor of Barrie.
- Years ago, the apple processing plant of J.W. Gossling operated at the corner of Maple Avenue and Sophia Street.
- When the Olympia Candy Works closed in 1951, owner George Bakogeorge threw one last big event – a celebration for the players of the Barrie Flyers after their OHA Junior A hockey championship.
- Speculating on lake ice was like gambling in the stock market. Before modern fridges, this was big business.
- Only hours into the Second World War, the liner Athenia was torpedoed off Ireland with the principal of Ovenden Ladies’ College on board.
- A typical June thunderstorm in 1890 just wouldn’t quit and caused a destructive flood.
- Flames have tried to erase the Glebe Block no less than three times over the years.
- Anyone who lived in Barrie during the spring of 1985 will have a tornado story to tell.