This ongoing series from Barrie Historical Archive curator Deb Exel shows old photos from the collection and one from the present day.
152 Bradford Street
The house at 152 Bradford St., was built about 1905 for well-respected local contractor Wesley Cline. One of his better-known and more challenging projects, was the Elizabeth Street Methodist Church.
Cline was active in the community and served as a Ward 5 representative on town council in 1907. His home on Bradford Street was considered one the most attractive residences in Barrie at the time.
Toward the end of the 1920s until the early 1940s, there were various occupants in the stately home as well as a brief period of vacancy during the Depression.
But in 1936 (according to one source) or as late as the early- to mid-1940s (according to another source), the house at 152 Bradford St., became another type of home: a funeral home.
The Jennetts – Bert and Edith – had a funeral home at 23 Owen St. in the 1930s. Their business was listed at the Owen Street address until at least 1942, although it’s possible they were already in the process of converting the residence at the corner of Bradford and John streets — right across from the grocery store that would become the Midway Diner — into their new business location.
Bert was the grandson of Robert Jennett, who migrated to Canada from Portadown, County Armagh, Ireland about 1858. He and his wife, Mary Ann Reid, had eight children, none of whom were alive for the sixth annual reunion of the descendants of Robert Jennett, that was held at Springwater Park on July 4, 1939. Approximately 100 gathered to honour their ancestors and enjoy a supper served by the Women’s Association of the Midhurst United Church.
The minutes of the last reunion were read and the president, Bert Jennett, called on Rev. R.J.D. Simpson, D.D. of Toronto (his wife was a Jennett), the official historian, for a report.
Since the last gathering, Rev. Simpson was happy to report that in their family of more than 200, there had been no deaths, just three marriages and four births. Following that, the officers for the next year’s reunion were elected.
Once the business was concluded, games took place with prizes for: guessing a length of rope (Evelyn McCann, Utopia), youngest child (John Robert Bogardis, Barrie), oldest lady present (Mrs. Mary Ann Miller, Barrie), oldest man present (Jas. Miller, Barrie), family to come the farthest (Charlie and Lottie Smith and Mrs. Eve Walsh, Detroit), milk drinking contest (Robert Parr, Barrie), nail driving contest (Mrs. Laura Hood, Alliston), peanut contest (Eleanor Jennett and Mrs. Bill Ohlis, Barrie), and the shoe contest (Mrs. Mary Carson, Toronto).
Back on Bradford Street, the Jennetts had modified and expanded the funeral home, adding the unique bays at the front of the building in the early '60s.
Simon Slessor and David McClelland purchased the business from the Jennetts in 1985.
A year later, as a result of a fire in the third-storey apartment, the top floor of the building was lost, but fortunately the beautiful stained-glass window, fireplace and staircase in the gracious home were saved, along with important records dating from 1936.
The Jennett home at 152 Bradford St., has presided over the final journey for the loved ones of generations of Barrie and Allandale families, and the Jennett name lives on in the community.