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THEN & NOW: Memorial Square

The ‘before’ photograph was taken after the fires of 1871 and 1875, but just before gas streetlights were installed in 1878

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

Memorial Square 

The inscription on the old 1877 photo reads: "The Gardens, at the foot of Owen Street."

Most people would know this location as Station Gore, Memorial, Post Office or Fred Grant Square and now as Meridian Place.

At the time of the ‘before’ photograph, it was after the fires of 1871 and 1875, but just before gas streetlights were installed in 1878. There were wooden sidewalks and the main street was still a dirt road.

The Barrie railway station would have been to the left.

It would be still be several years before the post office, which once resided in Memorial Square, was built in 1885, and almost 15 years before King’s Music Hall and the Gazette office were built in 1891, in what became known as the King or Music Hall block.

The prominent, three-storey structure with the ‘Edwards and Laird Stationary’ sign, later McKeggie’s Bank about 1894,  and Jackson’s Grill in this lifetime, still exists today, but as a convenience store.

To the right, a glimpse of a tall building on Dunlop Street, the former Dominion House hotel which also still stands, can be seen.

In the square itself, although relocated, some fixtures such as the cenotaph and water fountain still remain.

Strolling west on Dunlop Street from Memorial Square to Clapperton Street, the many original buildings that still preside over the  main street reveal brickwork, doorways, millwork and other hints from their past.