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THEN & NOW: Marches and merchants

Old images feature not only the event being documented, but also offer glimpse into the past with surrounding buildings in the background

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

Marches and Merchants

We love these snapshots in time for their nostalgia. These black-and-white photos are a peek into high-school life more than 70 years ago as well as the wonderful bits of history hiding in plain view within the corners and backdrops of our pictures.

The images were taken a few years after the end of the Second World War. The first one on May 15, 1948 and the second one just a few days later on May 20. Both are part of annual cadet inspection activities. The view is looking at about 60 Dunlop Street East, towards the corner of Owen Street.

For those of us not old enough to know or remember this, all the boys in physical education (or PE) at Barrie Central were expected to be a cadet, with the exception of band members. Bob Halfyard (centre in photo of Codrington Street School staff) recalls that when he was in Grade 9 and 10, they had to wear “terrible (First World War) uniforms with puttees, which were a nightmare."

In this 1944 Grade 10 photo on a cadet inspection or rehearsal day, Bob (featured second row and second from the left) shows off that uniform!

Bob confides that, “in Grade 11 and 12 we had more modern uniforms” and “when I got to Grade 13, you didn’t have to be a cadet, so that is why I was able to take pictures. You will note that the girls marched, too, in tunics, which is what they wore in P.E.”

In addition to the march down the main street, the students participated in rehearsalsdrills and inspections conducted at Queen’s Park

The other thing we love about these photos is the behind-the-parade glimpses at Barrie in the late-1940s.

In 1946, Barrie was starting to explode with post-war growth in housing and development, including commercial projects like the new Zeller's store (click to see how things looked in 1875 , 1913 and in 1945, before Zeller's appeared). Pictured here behind the band, the Zeller's of 1948 looks remarkably unchanged over the years from the 1960s and 1970s, before it ultimately relocated to the new Kozlov Mall almost exactly 34 years ago on Aug. 13, 1986.

Although Zeller’s moved on from its long-held downtown location, the space has continued to be home to department stores such as BiWay and Dollarama.

The Bank of Toronto building (the former J.R. Henderson Hardware store of the 1870s) has housed financial institutions such as Municipal Savings and Loan and the current National Trust ever since.

In the second photo, look beyond the cadets to see William Crossland’s drug store and Hong’s Café, which opened in 1927 as Barrie’s fourth Chinese restaurant. 

If this has you racing to re-examine your old photos for hidden history in the backgrounds, let us know if you find anything cool!