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THEN & NOW: The Royal Hotel

Downtown building has housed numerous businesses over the decades

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

The Royal Hotel 

It was about 1875 when the Royal Hotel opened at the corner of Toronto and Elizabeth streets, now Dunlop Street West.

The ‘Royal’ had several innkeepers before W.H. Gray became the proprietor close to the turn of the 20th century.

The wild times of Barrie in the 1870s and 1880s were winding down and the hotel was catering more to summer tourists and families.

Guests of the Royal enjoyed the spacious dining room, good bar and hot air heating, with Mr. Gray reportedly guiding lodgers who were there for sport, to the best fishing spots.

The hotel was thought to be well situated between Queen’s Park and the Agricultural Park, where Central Collegiate would later be built, as well as being close to the train and bay.

From the 1920’s into the '50s, W.A. Lowe and Son operated their furniture business out of the old Royal, followed by Burroughes Furniture.

Several other businesses — such as Poor Richard’s, the Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlour, The Loft, Tiffany’s Ice Cream, the ‘10’, Tiffany’s Restaurant, Chances, Phil’s Gym and Twin Dragons Kung Fu — were located at 94 Dunlop St. W., from the late 1970’s until the mid-1990s when Liaison College moved into the former hotel.

Although the second-floor balcony has been enclosed and other changes were made to the structure, hints of the old Royal Hotel are still recognizable today.