We are not detectives, but we certainly are curious and just a little bit local history obsessed! Queries come in from all over. Some are in response to this column or to Then and Now, others come directly to us through the Barrie Historical Archive or by way of connected associations related to the preservation of our shared heritage.
A variety of resources are used to stitch together a timeline of events that bring to life a colourful historic person, a place, a business, or an interesting happening from the past. Some of our go-to favourite resources are currently unavailable due to the pandemic situation and it will be a great day when they re-open again.
Fortunately, the power of online news and social media has not been diminished. I imagine that a number of readers are right now looking over this story and thinking about their personal memories of this particular house and that is exactly what is hoped for.
“Mr. A. Rankin is building a residence on a vacant lot on Bayfield Street, north of Wellington Street.” So says this short paragraph in the Northern Advance of July 8, 1897.
Is this 166 Bayfield St.? This has yet to be confirmed, but there are some good clues pointing in that direction.
Abraham Rankin’s name first becomes associated with Lot 15 on the west side of Bayfield Street in 1887. Before that, it appears D’Alton McCarthy was the owner of the property.
Mr. Rankin was born in Ireland and came to Barrie in 1867 after which he carried on a successful contracting business that was responsible for the building of the fire hall, the separate school and numerous houses and business buildings.
Lot 15 was divided in half and the southerly section of the northern half became the eventual site of 166 Bayfield St. In 1898, that portion was sold to Albert Edward Dyment.
Mr. Dyment was one of the sons of Barrie’s lumber king, Nathaniel Dyment. Albert Dyment was heavily involved in the lumber business, too, and spent most of his time in Thessalon, Ont., where he had a mill. In fact, he served three terms as MP for East Algoma.
In 1906, Albert Dyment sold everything and moved to Toronto where he became a stock broker, and highly successful one at that.
That same year, William Graham ‘W.G.’ Colville bought the property. He was a commercial traveller, originally from the United States, but more recently from Bracebridge when he arrived in Barrie in the 1890s. He didn’t remain long. In 1909, he left for Port Arthur, Ont., where he started his own hardware business.
The property then passed to another newcomer in town, Stephen Wesley ‘S.W.’ Moore, who was a native of Welland, Ont. After running a series of small shops in several southern Ontario communities, he purchased the general store in Churchill. In 1908, he ventured to Barrie began a business partnership with James Vair.
By 1912, Moore was the sole proprietor. He then bought into an established Guelph dry goods business and operated it, as well as the former Vair store, under the name Moore & Armstrong. This shop was located where the old Zeller’s store used to be near the corner of Dunlop Street East and Owen Street.
Before retiring in 1941, S.W. Moore had relocated his business to 15 Dunlop St. E., just east of Five Points. Three years after that, Moore sold his house on Bayfield Street to spend the rest of his retirement in Toronto.
The next name to be associated with 166 Bayfield was Fraleigh Crowe who was part of the well-known Crowe Automotive and Machining business that once occupied a spot just east of what was Firestone Tire on Dunlop Street West near Toronto Street. Mr. Crowe remained at this address until the mid-1960s.
Every house has a story and more of 166 Bayfield’s remains to be told. With a little input from some longtime Barrie residents, we can add to the biography of this fine old home.
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.