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Sir Robert Barrie poems mark the man and his day

Today marks the 180th anniversary of the death of Sir Robert Barrie in 1841
2021-05-14 Sir Robert Barrie crop
Royal Military College of Canada painting of Sir Robert Barrie.

There’s now something positively poetic about this city’s namesake, Sir Robert Barrie.

A poetry contest to mark the 180th anniversary of his death has produced three winners from Barrie schools.

Cassandra Parent, a Grade 9 student at St. Peter's Catholic Secondary School, took first place and the $100 prize.

Levi Taylor, in Grade 8 and home schooled, took second place ($50) and third place went to Lucas Pennell, a Grade 8 student at Willow Landing Elementary School ($25).

“We were very impressed with the quality of the poems that we received from the Grade 8 and 9 students in Barrie,” said Bill Sergeant of the Sir Robert Barrie project committee. “The judges discussed the merits of each poem and took great care in making their decisions as to which ones would be awarded the prizes.

“We certainly have some talented students in Barrie, and their submissions certainly reflected that as they captured the essence and accomplishments of our city's namesake.”

Today — Monday, June 7  marks the 180th anniversary of the death of Sir Robert Barrie in 1841. It is also the eighth anniversary of the signing of the Twinning Certificate between Barrie and the Borough of Harrogate, Yorkshire, England. That ceremony took place at Ripley Castle, where Sir Robert is interred with his wife, Lady Julia Wharton-Ingilby, in All Saints Church in the shadow of Ripley Castle.

June 7 has also been declared Sir Robert Barrie Day, which caught the attention of Borough of Harrogate Mayor Trevor Chapman.

“I was delighted to hear that Barrie city council are planning to have the seventh of June declared as the Sir Robert Barre Day,” he wrote to Sergeant. “I understand that this is in honour of the eighth anniversary of the signing of the Twinning Certificate at Ripley Castle and the 180th anniversary of the death of Sir Robert.

“I was actually at the church service in Ripley and remember it well. I hope all goes well and I send you my best wishes.”

The Sir Robert Barrie Poetry Contest was held so city residents could learn more about the man this city is named after.

Barrie was incorporated as a village in 1833 and was named after Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Barrie, a hero of the War of 1812 and the commissioner of the Naval Dockyard in Kingston, Upper Canada from 1824 until 1834.

Barrie commanded HMS Dragon in Chesapeake Bay and sank, captured or destroyed 85 American vessels during the War of 1812.  

As Naval Dockyard commissioner, Barrie was instrumental in developing the facilities at Kingston, as well as supporting the building of the Rideau and Welland canals.

He came to the Barrie area to inspect the Nine Mile Portage, a key trading route from Kempenfelt Bay to the Nottawasaga River and Georgian Bay. Wharton-Ingilby said she thought the area at the end of Kempenfelt Bay one of most beautiful places on Earth and suggested they settle there.

In mid-1834, Barrie returned to England and King William IV made him a knight commander of the Royal Guelphic Order. He was promoted to rear-admiral in 1837 and knight commander of the Order of the Bath in 1840. 

Barrie lived in retirement in Swarthdale, Lancashire and died on June 7, 1841.

The City of Harrogate flag will be hoisted without ceremony by Barrie City Hall staff on the morning of Monday, June 7. This is to avoid the gathering of a crowd and contravening the provincial lock-down order of gatherings being kept to five or fewer people.


How Barrie Got Its Name 

By Cassandra Parent

Have you ever wondered how Barrie got its name? 

Well, it’s from a man who deserves much gratitude and fame.

Sir Robert Barrie is the inspiration for this town’s name, 

For he is the one who helped the War of 1812 tame. 

On June 7, we will commemorate all that he has done, 

For he has helped this nation and city become one. 

Without his accomplishments, so great 

The War of 1812 wouldn’t have ended, and everyone would have a terrible fate. 

Now, let’s jump ahead 20 so years 

When the War of 1812 had long disappeared. 

Without the constant fighting and fearing for their lives, 

Upper Canada began to thrive! 

Our wonderful city was established in 1833 

When it was incorporated as a village and named Barrie. 

Even though you may hear the name and think of a fruit; 

It was really named after someone who helped when times were acute. 

A hero would be a good name to use 

Since he was the opposite of an unhelpful recluse. 

Sir Robert Barrie helped Upper Canada indeed 

That is why he’s an important part of our history. 

Everyday, we meet many heroes 

Who have helped our city get to one-hundred from zero 

Even though Sir Robert Barrie’s life ended very fast, 

We should never forget him and the other heroes of our past!


Written by Levi Taylor in Spenserian Verse    

Barrie led troops at Chesapeake;

Loads were lost to his Dragon crew.

Their triumph made the foes so meek

Covid is like the foes he slew,  

A hazard to me and to you.  

Barrie beat the ships with boldness;

Would do the same with COVID too;

Fighting off the deadly virus,  

And helping to clear up this mighty mess.    

The cholera came to Kingston;  

1832 was the year.  

He was there to fight it head on

With quarantine and jolly cheer;

Barrie’s enforcement would help steer

Him to be the name for our town;

As the admiral of the rear  

His enforcement was well laid down,

So no single mutineer could be found.

Barrie found new territory

While on board ship with Vancouver;

On his voyage of discov’ry, 

He would have research in full gear

To help get the new vaccines here,

And help us clear the pandemic,

And get us back up in high gear;

It is time Barrie got credit,

For his work in a large epidemic! 


By Lucas Pennell

Sir Robert Barrie 

Commander in the Royal Navy 

A man of honour and bravery 

Sir Robert Barrie 

Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath

Knight Commander of the Royal Guelphic Order

Sir Robert Barrie 

Took part in the War of 1812 

Commanded multiple successful missions

Siobert Barrie 

Honoured throughout Canada 

Deserves to be known today

Bob Bruton

About the Author: Bob Bruton

Bob Bruton is a full-time BarrieToday reporter who covers politics and city hall.
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