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THEN & NOW: Allandale Presbyterian Church

Final Presbyterian service at Essa Road church was held Sept. 16, 2018

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

Allandale Presbyterian Church — 59 Essa Rd.

The Barrie Presbyterian Church became a congregation in 1875 and their story is told here.

The Allandale Presbyterians didn't get organized until 1887, when they set up a meeting place and Sunday School in a vacant blacksmith shop on the south side of Essa Road.

When the property on Essa Road was sold, Charles Catcher, a foreman at the Northern Railway and likely a good Presbyterian, donated a lot at 26 William St., as a site for the group's first brick building. The structure was later used as the Allandale fire hall.

Petitioning the Barrie presbytery for their own church, the Allandale-area members, with the help of Rev. Duncan D. McLeod of St. Andrew's, established the Allandale congregation in 1892.

They continued to worship at the William Street location before building a new Norman-styled church, designed by Orillia architect William Croker, on Essa Street (later named Essa Road). It was the first church of the 20th century to be built in Barrie. The cornerstone was laid on Aug. 16, 1901, and the new church opened to a packed house on Nov. 24.

D.D. McLeod, of St. Andrew's Presbyterian, was around back in 1888 when a group of women started meeting at his church to work on opening a new hospital in Barrie. He was there on March 5, 1903, as Royal Victoria Hospital board president, to preside over the opening of the new hospital on High Street.

It was also in 1903 that Rev. H.D. Cameron, of the Presbyterian church on Essa Road, first suggested the need for Christian
accommodation and a wholesome recreational area for young men. This was the beginning of the Railway YMCA at 268 Bradford St.

The official name, Allandale Presbyterian Church, was decided at a congregational meeting in 1904. The terms Essa Street and Essa Road Church were also sometimes used to describe the church, but it wasn't until 1961 that the name was officially changed to Essa Road Presbyterian Church.

The final Presbyterian service at the Essa Road church was held on Sept. 16, 2018. It is now home to the Alive Church.