This ongoing series from Barrie Historical Archive curator Deb Exel shows old photos from the collection and one from the present day.
John MacDonald Bothwell, born in Belfast, Ireland in 1845, was a well-respected merchant, grocer and businessman in Barrie.
Shortly after he emigrated to Canada in 1871, he opened his grocery and seed store in Barrie.
He built the striking Bothwell Block in 1882, designed by Thomas Kennedy, on the north side of Dunlop Street, east of Owen Street and next to the Sanders Block.
J.M. closed his store and retired after the Bothwell Block was renovated in 1911. He passed away on Jan. 12, 1915.
In addition to running his store on Dunlop Street, Bothwell served as a city councillor and reeve before he was elected Barrie’s mayor in 1895 and 1896.
It was during his tenure that verandahs, which he considered eyesores, were removed from Dunlop and Elizabeth streets and permanent sidewalks were built.
He is also credited with improving the road to Allandale and driving the incorporation of Allandale with the town of Barrie.
The intersection where Bradford Street meets Tiffin Street is where Barrie ended and Essa Road and the village of Allandale began, was referred to as Bothwell’s Corner.
The building which stood at this corner, and its memorable Bogardis smoke shop, were demolished in the 1970s.