This ongoing series from Deb Exel at the Barrie Historical Archive shows old photos from the collection and one from the present day.
Vespra House Hotel
Downtown Barrie was crowded with hotels in the mid- to late-1800s and about 1878, another emerged – the Vespra House Hotel, hosted by Mr. Stritch – on Bayfield Street, just north of the Wellington Hotel.
By the early 1900s, John, J. Coffey was the proprietor and was said to run a comfortable and busy hotel; attentive service, the accommodations refitted, completely renovated and considered first-class.
The hotel featured a barber shop, a billiard room and a good bar.
Apparently the hotel’s large, well-kept barn made it popular with farmers. The rates were $1 per day with special pricing by the week.
The address of the Vespra Hotel varied. At one time, it was 36-42 Bayfield St., then 40, at other times 44-48 and 44-50 Bayfield St.
By the 1920s, the hotel had become apartments, but continued to have businesses on the ground floor, such as R.G. Houghton’s barber shop, A.S. Black a veterinary surgeon, realtor L.O. Vair and Canada Life representative Ken Ross.
In 1952, Loblaws was now listed at 52 Bayfield St., the former location of the Vespra Hotel. (Loblaws was listed at 14-18 Dunlop St., as well, in 1952).
But in spite of the many changes over the years to the west side of Bayfield Street between Dunlop and Ross streets, the Vespra Hotel’s next door neighbour continues, its distinctive brick work still as noticeable today as it was in 1897.
Coincidentally, J.J. Coffey’s son, John L. Coffey, operated Barrie Hardware in this building at 40 Bayfield St. and it continued to be the home of Barrie Hardware until 1971.