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REMEMBER THIS: The little cabin on Innisfil St. — Part 2

Somewhere between 1928 and 1938, the Webb family built their first addition, possibly the closed-in summer porch, and found hidden cabin at Innisfil Street home

Part 1 of this column can be found here.

In 1920, railway worker Norris Webb and his family began their long residency at 310 Innisfil St., then known as 60 Baldwin St., in Barrie.

At that time, the house was described as “plastered with cement and mortar,” so the Webb family had no idea that their home had once been a log cabin. It seems likely that more than 100 years have passed since all of the original rough-hewn log features have seen the light of day.

One year before Norris Webb purchased the house, the brake man’s career and life were nearly cut short. Just about midnight on April 18, 1919, as their freight train approached Colwell Junction, just west of Barrie, Norris Webb chanced to spot a man clinging to the side of a rail car.

Once stopped at the junction, Norris confronted the traveller who promptly drew a revolver and fired three quick shots. One shot hit Norris Webb in the left leg. The injury wasn’t deemed fatal or serious, so the train just carried on to Midland.

By 1921, the Norris family was certainly living at what was then 60 Baldwin St. The census record of that year confirms their residency in the home. Norris was still working as a brakeman despite his earlier fright.

Norris Webb’s railroading luck finally ran out in 1928. In a November 1928 news piece reporting on Webb’s election to council for Ward 6, the Barrie Examiner mentioned that this newest alderman had recently lost a leg in an accident at Collingwood.

None of this seemed to hold Mr. Webb back. He spent several years as an LCBO inspector, and in sales for the R.J. Sanderson Marble Company, while involving himself in various community and political groups. All the while, he was the undisputed champion of the local cribbage scene.

The seemingly unstoppable Norris Webb passed away 1971. However, his death did not signal the end of the Webb family’s presence in the home. Some 25 years afterwards, Norris and Blanche’s son, James Webb, was still living at 310 Innisfil St.

The descendants of Norris and Blanche Webb still have wonderful memories of 310 Innisfil St. As I searched for the story behind the structure, I was fortunate enough to hear from Emily Beeforth, their great-great-granddaughter.

Emily told me that John Ironside’s find was not the first time that a home owner was surprised by the discovery of the cabin. Somewhere between 1928 and 1938, the Webbs built their first addition, possibly the closed-in summer porch, and found the hidden cabin.

To the best of Emily’s knowledge, the second addition to the house happened about 1976, as extended family planned to move in. James Webb, Emily’s great-grandfather, Norris Webb’s son, lived on the property until 1996.

Over the years, the family often talked about the cabin and wondered about its origins.

If it was built by early property owner Andrew Carson, it is possible that it is nearly 150 years old.

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.

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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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