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THEN & NOW: 113 Collier Street

Several prominent Barrie people have lived in the home, including Mayor F.E.P Pepler from 1888 until the early 1900s

This ongoing series from Barrie Historical Archive curator Deb Exel shows old photos from the collection and one from the present day.

113 Collier Street

The first of many land transfers for this property was the one from the Crown to William Blackie in 1835.

In 1847, the property changed to John Alexander, from Scotland. He was appointed the Crown Lands Agent for Simcoe District as well and an agent for Equitable Fire and International Life Insurance companies.

At the time of his death in 1868, his estate was estimated to be worth $75,000 to $100,000 and he had a long list of unfunded local projects he had planned to leave money to, such as new fire department equipment, the Presbyterian church, tree planting, an addition to the town hall, a Protestant Common School as well as improvements to Collier Street. Legal complications prevented many of his bequests from being fulfilled and the office of Crown Lands Agent was dissolved upon his death.

The next notable occupant, about 1872, was Joseph Anderton and his wife, Catherine. The Anderton name was well known in Barrie for the brewing business. The father, William Anderton, founded the family brewing business when he arrived in Barrie in the 1850s.

Brothers Joseph and James had started construction of their Fair View Brewery on Victoria Street, next to saw mill, about 1861. When William died in 1866, Anderton Bros. was dissolved, relaunching as Barrie Brewery. The brothers also purchased the Queens Hotel in 1875 only to dissolve their partnership in 1883.

Word on the street is that Joseph and two other dudes took off with about $40,000 belonging to the Barrie Syndicate, which was part of a larger outfit involved in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Joseph sold the Queens, his stake in the brewery and mortgaged his other properties in an attempt to raise what he owed, ultimately skipping town with about $18,000 of stolen money.

The story of his brother James is far worse … read parts one and two, of the tragedy that befell him in 1892. The Anderton family, in spite of all the drama, continued in the brewing business, buying the Simcoe Brewery about 1900 and collaborating on a new start up in 1901, the Barrie Brewing Company. The Fair View Brewery closed in 1906 and later burned in 1916.

Judge Ronald Gunn is listed as a resident of 113 Collier St., about 1884. His father, lumberman Allan Gunn was a frequent visitor at historian Fred Grant’s family home on Mary Street. Gunn, who was one of the wealthiest lumbermen in Canada, lived in Bingham’s Rose Cottage (Newton’s Farm) on Davidson Street when he first arrived in Barrie in 1862.

Prominent lawyer Henry H. Strathy’s name appears on the title of the home at 113 Collier St., in 1880 and again in 1886.

But the most notable resident of 113 Collier St. was lawyer and Mayor F.E.P. Pepler, also a one-time occupant of Pearson House at 16 Mary St. The Peplers appear to have been in residence from about 1888 and the home remained in the family until the early 1900s.

F.E.P. was a very successful lawyer at McCarthy, Pepler and McCarthy (he married Miss Bernard, step-daughter of D’Alton McCarthy in a private ceremony at St. George’s Church, Toronto, in April 1881) and a very popular mayor of Barrie from 1889-91.

A fire around 1890 partially destroyed the home, and the reconstruction of the second story resulted in the Gothic Revival detailing that we see today on 113 Collier St.

Besides his legal career, position as a community leader and his tenure as Mayor, on November 6, 1891, F.E.P. was also elected chairman of the newly established County of Simcoe Pioneer and Historical Society.

That same afternoon, the mayor, a representative from the Provincial Association, four participants from the country including John L. Warnica of Innisfil and four members of the Barrie and Orillia press including Andrew Hunter of the Examiner, had met to consider the organizing of such a group.

Once the decision was adopted and a chair in place, they went on to move that members must 21 years of age and “those who resided the county of Simcoe prior to confederation, July 1, 1867, or their descendants who shall be known as pioneers; and also natives of the county who have been resident in the county for five years previous to their application for membership.”

In the 1890s, there were plans for a railway around Kempenfelt Bay from St. Vincent Park on the north shore, through downtown and around to MInet’s Point, with talk of extending this line to reach the large, summer residences on the south side of the bay, such as F.E.P. Pepler’s estate ‘Tyne Head’ which was built on his land near Tollendal.

The Northern Advance society page describes a ‘quoiting party’ (kind of like horseshoes) that was held on Sept. 6, 1895, at the beautiful summer home of F.E.P. Pepler. The steam yacht Seaflower transported guests from Barrie to the event. The attendees included many of Barrie’s political, legal and business elite, most with impressive homes of their own: Judge Ardagh (The Hill), Judge/Mayor Boys (who also had a summer home just past F.E.P.’s), Mayor Radenhurst, H.H. Strathy (owner of Foxley, but he lived across the street in Ardraven), D. McCarthy Sr. (Carnoevar) or D. McCarthy Jr. (Roxborough), Captain Bird, J. Cotter (Rockforest - Rockforest II shown here), Mayor Bothwell, Sheriff Drury, Mayor C.H. Ross (Maple Hill), County Treasurer S.J. Sanford (Statenborough), Lawyer Charles Hewson (Inchiquin), Johnathan Henderson (Bellevue), J. Dickinson (Glen Ormond) and city council treasurer D.C. Murchison (Woodlawn)… just to mention a few. Following the games, Mrs. Pepler received the guests, who enjoyed lunch and social time.

Even 20 years later, F.E.P. was still in the spotlight, reading the civic address on June 3, 1915 at the Allandale Station, when the Duke and Duchess of Connaught (Prince Arthur) visited Barrie.

The beautiful home at 113 Collier St. has had many owners and tenants over the years, as it changed from a single family home, to duplex about 1909, and at one point housed the office of the Gryphon Theatre Guild. Thanks to its current occupants, MHBC Planning Urban Design and Landscape Architects, the elegant features of this magnificent heritage home have been preserved both inside and out and F.E.P.’s stately home continues to grace this historic stretch of Collier Street. 

And now the answer to your burning question: F.E.P. stands for Francis Edward Phillip.