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Remember This? Tweed suits, butchery mishaps, tuberculosis and charges of public drunkenness

The Barrie Historical Archive provides a glimpse of what was happening in Barrie in November 1916 in new column Remember This?
The Downtown Grey and Simcoe Forresters.

Below are snippets of Barrie from November 1916 - taken from the local newspapers.

An Unfortunate Incident

"Stephen Pratt, while dressing a pig, slipped and fell, striking the knife, causing a nasty gash between the thumb and forefinger.”

I would assume that the unfortunate gentleman from Cundles was engaged in the art of butchery and was not attempting to assist the animal into its Sunday best, although neither task would be accomplished without a certain amount of risk.

Record Snowfall

“Last Friday and Saturday brought the season’s first heavy fall of snow, the official record showing 16.8 inches. It was, however, followed by a rise in temperature and by Wednesday morning, the snow had practically all disappeared.” Nearly a foot and a half of snow – quite the welcome to winter for Barrie residents one hundred years ago, last week!

blog1CImage Courtesy of Barrie Historical Archive.

Camp Borden Construction

“The last of the Camp Borden construction outfit passed through here on Tuesday when a heavy freight train destined for Ottawa came loaded with all the implements, steam plows, shovels, diggers, cement mixers and various other machinery.”

With the Great War, still raging on in Europe, Camp Borden was built in 2 months and opened in July of 1916 for the purpose of training the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Sale on Clothing

The Sarjeant & King Shop in Barrie offered a great sale that month, on items of boys’ clothing that I don’t ever recall buying for any of my sons – Russian suits “much underpriced at $2.75,” leather gauntlet gloves and mitts for 50 cents, D.B. Tweed suits $5.75 and boys’ ulsters for $5.50.

Public Intoxication

Also in 1916, came the Ontario Temperance Act which outlawed the sale of alcohol in Ontario. By 1918, the federal government had created a law of its own that also forbade the manufacturing, importing or transporting of alcohol from other regions where it was still legal.

On November 16, 1916, Barrie had its first contravention of the fresh legislation. Police Magistrate “Radenhurst had before him on Thursday last the first case in Barrie under the new Temperance Act. Thos. Pierce was charged by Inspector Fisher with being drunk on the public streets. The accused admitted that the charge was true, stating that he had secured the liquor in Montreal and that there was very little left. The fine of $10.00 and $5.60 cost was imposed and paid forthwith.”

blog1AImage courtesy of the Barrie Historical Archive (

Prison Labour

It was noted one hundred years ago, this week that the Inspector of Prisons was unable to meet with the committee that was looking into “the question of prison labor in and around County property” but he did grant authority “to supply chief constable of the county with a supply of hand-cuffs and badges for county constables.” Just in time too, if the police were to be expected to deal with those citizens who were a bit worse for the wear like Mr. Thos. Pierce there.

Stamping Out Tuberculosis

As the holiday season was approaching, the familiar Christmas seals were being advertised in the local newspapers. Today, they are a fundraising tool of the Canadian Lung Association, but back 1916 it was not asthma, lung cancer or tobacco that was in need of attention, but another scourge that threatened the health of people everywhere, including Barrie. “The National Sanitarium Association has issued over five million seals, to meet the requirement of this year’s Xmas Seals Campaign.” and that “No easier way will be found by which you may ‘do your bit’ in stamping out the plague of tuberculosis

blog1BImage courtesy of the Barrie Historical Archive.

Ford Wins Auto War 

T.R. Huxtable, a dealer in Ford cars in Barrie, was fairly certain that he had chosen the right brand to sell when he placed his ad in the Northern Advance paper. He made a lengthy list of all the makes available in the fall of 1916, and how many automobiles were registered in Ontario during that time. Ford, of course, came out on top, beating out now long forgotten names like Brock Atlas, Gray Dott, Overland, Regal and the Orillia made Tudhope that sold for $1,500.  There were just over one thousand registered Fords in 1916.

blog1DImage courtesy of the Barrie Historical Archive.

Much like today, Barrie of 100 years past had its ups and downs. The good old days weren’t always that good, and even as we sometimes we yearn for that simpler life, we forget that war, poverty and disease were ever present. However, new inventions and medical breakthroughs were on the horizon, and the Great War would eventually come to an end.

Back in 1916, Barrie residents were constantly digging themselves out of snow banks, but also enjoying their advantageous position on the shores of beautiful Kempenfelt Bay, just as we do now. Not much has changed there. Although I wouldn’t mind paying 42 cents today for a dozen eggs …     

  • Many thanks to the Barrie Examiner and Northern Advance, whose pages are archived at the Barrie Public Library.

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.