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REMEMBER THIS: The little cabin — Part 1

Current owner of home discovers old log construction while renovating

It’s right there at a busy Barrie intersection, but you can’t see it.

Actually, you can’t miss the house because it’s painted bright blue, but you would never guess you are idling a few feet from a little, old log cabin as you wait for the light to turn green.

The cabin has been there since Barrie was somewhere else. By that, I mean the southerly town limit was once Tiffin Street and this dwelling sits a few hundred metres south of that boundary.

In fact, you could say the cabin was once located on a different street without ever moving. Until 1952, when Mayor Marjorie Hamilton undertook the task of renaming a number of Barrie streets, this cabin had the address of 60 Baldwin St.

Many roads in Barrie were a patchwork of old street names and many of these only served to confuse motorists. One of them was present-day Innisfil Street. Early maps show sections of it as Jane Street, Thompson Street (later changed to Cotter Street) and Baldwin Street before all of these were combined together under the street name we see now.

Today, this is 310 Innisfil St. and it is the home and studio of John Ironside. This house, near the intersection with Essa Road, is being renovated as you read this, but it is certainly no stranger to that process. Far from it.

The blue box portion next to the street is the oldest part of the house. It is here that Ironside discovered the log construction as he tore away years and layers of building materials.

Who built the cabin? It is quite likely Andrew Carson, an Irish-born carpenter, constructed the small dwelling. Carson’s name was connected to the property as far back as 1876, according to land registry records. After his death, about 1902, his wife retained the property, and then sold it, and the cabin site changed hands several times.

Behind the cabin portion of the current house is an addition that started out as a summer porch. It was walled in to extend the living space of the cabin. That space was expanded as well, and more expansion came later on to create a rather long house on a very deep lot.

What is also surprising about the house is it was home to one family for more than 70 years. Few older homes in Barrie can claim that milestone.

The Webb family has deep roots in Innisfil Township. William Thomas Webb and his wife, Eliza Herrel, farmed Lot 23, Concession 12. The Webbs acquired their land in the 1850s and raised eight sons and one daughter there.

The second of these sons was also named William Thomas Webb, and he was known to everyone as Tom. On Christmas Day of 1883, Tom married Annie Scott. At that time, he was involved in farming, but within a few years, he was working for the railroads.

Norris Webb, son of Tom and Annie, was born in 1889. He took a different path and went into sales and moved to Toronto, where he met his wife, Blanche Fraser. They wed in 1911.

Norris wasn’t long away from Simcoe County. He and his new bride came to Barrie six months into their marriage as Norris took a job as a brake man for the Grand Trunk Railway. Land registry records show he acquired the cabin in 1920.

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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