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THEN & NOW: 16 Dunlop St. E.

From furniture to grocery stores, banks to nightclubs, this building has served many purposes over the decades

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

16 Dunlop St. E. 

The Dougall brothers, Henry and David, immigrated from Scotland about 1844.

They both landed in Innisfil Township, Henry running the mill at Tollendal and David farming near Churchill.

Just before 1850, David moved to  Barrie and worked as a carpenter and wood turner until he opened his own factory in 1856.

The David Dougall Bedstead and Chair Manufactory, located at the southeast corner of Worsley and Mulcaster streets, was destroyed by fire in 1858. But within a few years, Dougall was up and running, back to making home furnishings again.

His brother Henry Dougall, meanwhile, had been busy designing the new fire hall across market square at the southwest corner of Collier and Mulcaster, which would be move-in ready by the end of 1865.

In 1863, there was a new smoke stack in town. David Dougall had changed his factory over from horse power to steam power. His brother, Henry, was in the furniture business as well, opening his own warehouse in the same year, with his son James. Three years later, they sold the business to local merchant, house and carriage painter Bill Capon, and became building contractors. 

David Dougall was the original owner of a heritage home on Wellington Street, which is wonderfully still intact today. Built about 1874 or 1875, it doesn’t appear that Dougall ever lived in the house himself – it was flipped three times before it was granted to Eustace G. Bird in 1922. Prior to that, one of the owners, Frank M. Montgomery, deputy registrar for the County of Simcoe, had lived in the house for 40 years.

Henry’s home — pictured here with wagons that were used at the market — was on the other side of Market Square from his brother’s factory.

In 1889, David retired and transferred the business to his sons, John and James B., who continued to run the company as Dougall Brothers Furniture. However, the Dougalls couldn’t compete with the big furniture manufacturers and ended up closing the factory in February 1892. The tall chimney that had stood as part of Barrie’s skyline was now rubble. The bricks were re-purposed to face one of the three homes that were built on the old factory site. 

On the retail side of the business, Dougall’s Furniture on Dunlop Street remained open until July 1920, when the brothers gracefully closed their furniture and wallpaper store after 40 years.

The post-war economic depression was affecting many other local businesses, too. Earlier that year, the general manager of the United Farmers of Ontario (UFO) Cooperative Co., spoke to around 35 members about the benefits of a co-operative retail store.

That GM, T.P. Loblaw of Essa Township, unfortunately retired from the UFO soon after and the rest, as they say, is history.

In an interesting turn, by about the mid-1930s, a Loblaws store would occupy 14-18 Dunlop St. E. (now 16 Dunlop) until the early 1960s.

It remained a grocery store through that decade (Buehler Bros), followed by banks (Sterling Trust, General TrustLaurentian Bank) and electronics (Danforth Radio).

The very cool Foxx Lounge, now closed, is the last tenant (so far) in the old Dougall Furniture Store space.