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THEN AND NOW: Compelling story hides behind nondescript facade

Unassuming storefront on the northwest corner of Mary and Dunlop streets might once have been hard to miss, but it's rich in history

This ongoing series from Barrie Historical Archive curator Deb Exel shows old photos from the collection and one from the present day, as well as the story behind them. 

West End T Store — 68 Dunlop St. W.

Ever wonder what was (or is!) behind the nondescript façade of some of the buildings we pass downtown? Or what their story is? 

This unassuming store on the northwest corner of Mary and Dunlop streets might once have been hard to miss. Built about 1873 by Charles Henry Clark and nicely trimmed with decorative brickwork and verandah, the West End T. Store owners once had high hopes of extending the building on the west side, although the expansion never happened.

The West End T. Store was likely similar to the Canton T. Store. In addition to selling teas, they may have also offered wine, liquors, crockery and other provisions.

Over the years, 68 Elizabeth St. (now Dunlop Street West) became part of a busy little downtown neighbourhood.

By the 1930s, the old tea shop was now H.E. McCullough’s grocery, a friendly, well-stocked store which carried local and area products such as meats from the First Cooperative Packers and items from the Utopia Flour Mills, and offering home delivery.

Nearby businesses included Ernest A. Williams, Jeweler at 66 Elizabeth, John Rol, Florist kitty corner at 67 Elizabeth, George Montgomery Auto Parts next door and William D. Minnikin, Funeral Director directly across the street at 69 Elizabeth.

When Mr. and Mrs. McCullough returned from their honeymoon in 1921, they briefly lived at 83 Mary St., before moving down the street and closer to work.

Harry Elwood McCullough’s wife Elsie’s brother, Alfred Rayner Jr., worked in the store, too, and it looks like they were all ‘neighbours’ as well.

Alf Rayner was listed at 49 Mary St., and Harry McCullough at 49½ Mary St. The house at 49 Mary was likely constructed about 1872 for Humphrey Bennett, father of one of Barrie’s mayors, John Henry Bennett, who had constructed a beautiful home on Bayfield Street for him and his wife Fanny Meeking, daughter of hotel owner Edwin Meeking.

The home at 49 Mary St., which we know as The North restaurant now, is where Harry’s son, Rayner McCullough, grew up. You can listen to the Barrie Archive’s video interviews with Rayner as he describes growing up in the Mary Street neighbourhood and Barrie in the 1950s.

Looking at the 1870s photo of the Charles Clark’s West End T Store, you’ll see a white roughcast home behind it  that was the Clark home at 50 Mary St. It was later made much more elegant with the addition of brick and is still a beautiful building today.

The Clark family owned the property for many years and by the early 1900s, Dr. Henry Wallwin was living in the Clark home.

Another doctor would follow.

Dr. Norman Wilfred Rogers attended the West Ward School, followed by the Barrie Collegiate Institute before proceeding to the University of Toronto for his medical degree. Dr. Rogers' first practice was in northern Ontario: first Cobalt then Cochrane, Haileybury and finally with the Grand Trunk Pacific Construction, 60 miles west of Hearst.

In 1912, Dr. Rogers took over the Stroud practice of Dr. Leonard Jennet Simpson, who was minister of education from 1934 until 1940, before being appointed medical officer with the Royal Flying Corps at Camp Borden and also the Kapuskasing internment camp, later serving overseas.

Back in Canada in 1919, Rogers resumed his practice in Stroud until he took over the practice – and property – of Dr. Henry Wallwin, lcoated at 50 Mary St., in 1926.

Dr. Rogers was back. No stranger to the neighbourhood, Norman Rogers had been born on Mary Street himself, in 1885, to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Rogers.

And in 1930, Dr. Rogers delivered a baby for his neighbours, the McCulloughs, across the road at 49 Mary St. It was none other than our video star, Rayner McCullough.

And that’s a little bit of the story of 68 Dunlop St. W., and two of the stately homes on lovely, shady Mary Street.