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THEN & NOW: Elizabeth Street Methodist Church

After 150 years, the congregation with deep roots and many memories in the community came to an end in 2019

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

Elizabeth Street Methodist Church

The Primitive Methodist Church was built on the corner of Toronto and Elizabeth (now called Dunlop) streets in 1872.

But this was not their first location.

Their first church, on John Street (now called Maple Avenue) just south of Ross Street, opened in 1865 and parishioners worshipped there until a fire originating at the nearby Ball Sash and Door Factory on May 16, 1871, destroyed their building.

They built a new church at the corner of Toronto and Elizabeth streets, and services started in March 1872.

All was well until 1883 when the Methodist Church of Canada organized. The Primitive Methodists did not take part in this amalgamation and the Barrie congregation took the name Elizabeth Street Methodist for their church.

At the Elizabeth Street location, their church flooded twice (Sophia Creek ran through the basement), suffered fire damage and eventually outgrew the premises.

As the story goes, the church was moved to the back of the lot to make room for the building of the new church. The original church from 1872 was bricked to match the new building and used for Sunday School and meetings. 

Mrs. Nathaniel Dyment donated the Breckels and Matthews organ for the new church, which opened in March 1908.  

Over time, the church was renamed Central Methodist Church and in 1925, when the United Church of Canada formed, they became Central United Church.

By 1957, all signs pointed to another move: the commercialization of the area and routine flooding made the church look around for another location.

After an unsuccessful attempt to buy the southeast corner of Queen’s Park, Central United Church ended up at the corner of Toronto and Ross streets in March 1958, their final (in more ways than one) location.

After 150 years, the congregation with deep roots and many memories in the community came to an end in 2019.

The Firestone Tire Store expanded into the former church property on Dunlop Street and the demolition waste from the Elizabeth Street Methodist Church was used for fill as part of the waterfront reclamation.

The old Firestone building is now the Casa Mia restaurant.