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THEN & NOW: Mulcaster Street

Block has been a hive of activity for decades

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

Mulcaster Street from Dunlop to Collier

One of Barrie’s original streets was also known as Market Street in 1847.

The area where Mulcaster Street met Collier Street was known as Market Square.

In the 1840s, the Simcoe Agricultural Society began holding an annual fair on this site and eventually entrusted Market Square to Barrie town council in 1854.

By 1856, council was holding its meetings in a grand new building in Market Square, designed by Toronto architect Joseph Sheard and built by Alexander Graham, a local contractor.

The Town Hall and Market Building looked down on a short stretch of Mulcaster Street.

When this picture was taken by photographer William Henry Buttery about 1901, the Market Building did not have its third floor yet, but it did have extravagantly ornate cornices, friezes, cresting, magnificent windows and a commanding view of lower Mulcaster Street and its slope down to the bay.

Looking up Mulcaster Street, on the west side, while technically on Dunlop Street, the building at 128 Dunlop that once housed printers in the 1880s, grocers in the 1920s but better remembered as Pete’s Restaurant and now Tara, still shows off its decorative brickwork and windows to both streets.

The Mulcaster side of this building has had a number of businesses at the back: Okay Shoe Repair, Camp Borden Family Welfare Auxiliary as well as restaurants, floor service and TV repair companies.

Heading up the hill toward Collier Street, the building we know now as the Pizzeria Italia, was once S. Varley’s grocery in the 1880s and early 1900s and the Full Gospel Tabernacle in the 1950s.

The apartment building next door has been around since at least the 1880s – a partly brick (the northern three-storey section) and partly wooden with plaster (the southern two-storey part) structure, and may have included a restaurant at one time. It is still an apartment house today.

Finally, the little armory built in 1889, originally a drill hall, then farmers' marketMPP office and now a museum, still continues to be serviceable.

Across the street, could the barn that was located behind the Clarkson Hotel be the same building that was once Barrie Battery Service, Barrie Welding and Machine Shop, Barrie Furniture Ltd and now Akira Japanese Cuisine?

While the historic old fire hall (demolished in 1978) is gone and the Carnegie library (now the MacLaren Art Centre) had not been built until 1917, this little section of Mulcaster Street still hints of the past that is captured in this old photo.