Allandale YMCA

The former Crazy Fox on 268 Bradford Street, Barrie, Ontario in 2004
The Crazy Fox Restaurant & Bistro is a popular Five-Star restaurant that used to operate at this location near Barrie's waterfront in the 1980's. This is a beautiful building with an cornice butting into a mansard-roofed tower.

The building as it was circa 1910 operating as the Allandale Railroad YMCA.
Of course, it was not always a Bistro. The building served initially as the Allandale YMCA, built and administered by local citizens.

Latter, after the YMCA moved out, it is rumoured that it served as a 'gentleman's club' of some ill repute with ladies of 'easy leisure' entertaining patrons. The last occupant, the Crazy Fox restaurant, moved out to it's new location on Bayfield Street in 2000 and building has since been abandoned. But not for much longer . . .

First a little bit of building history.

A postcard of the YMCA circa 1900. Note the 50 foot water tower adjacent to the building. The railway had a deal to supply fuel and water to the YMCA.
Recognizing an opportunity to serve the railway workers of the Grand Trunk (Canadian National Railways after 1918), the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)began to support railroad workers in the late 1800's. The YMCA offered alternative pastimes such as reading and bible studies to railway workers who otherwise were limited to visiting saloons during their leisure hours.

The nearby Allandale train station, shown here, was a comfortable 60 second walk for the rail workers to accommodations at the YMCA.
By 1900 six railway associations had sprung up and by 1910, eight out of 15 had their own buildings, while others operated out of rooms provided by the railway. In 1920, there were a total of 19 railway associations with 15 facilities known as "Railroad YMCAs".

By the 1950's, the need for men working the lines dissipated as did the need for overnight accommodations for the rail workers, and the YMCA eventually closed its doors. A very small branch office of the Toronto-Dominion Bank also operated out of this building with the entrance on the building's north corner. The building's use after this time is a bit of a mystery until the Crazy Fox moved in.

To the right, a very poorly-stocked bar on the main floor. A soft cushioned bumper on the bar top prevented many a drunken injury and served as a make-shift pillow in a pinch.

A food preparation area with some decent-sized commercial refrigerators. These, unfortunately were not stocked with wine, beer and savories for our thirsty / hungry explorer at the time of investigation.

A very interesting time capsule find on the second floor. A copy of the Toronto Daily Star from Thursday 7, 1961 used as a shelf-liner. An advertisement for Sayvette claims to "have wide aisles and wider smiles". One may procure a 23" console TV for a very-reasonable $ 219.93

To the left, a snapshot of the stairs accessing the 'tower'. The stairs, designed for persons with feet less than 6" in length, were difficult to reconnoiter.

The abandoned Allandale lawn-bowling club green is visible through the window.

Here, we see stark evidence of Ozzy Osbourne's hauntings to this building.
I had a very close encounter with this bird's very-alive friend in the tower's room.

Given the closed quarters, shallow stairs, and unwieldy camera tripod, I'm quite glad not to have taken the 'easy way' down the stairs.

Current events

After a few short years of neglect, the building was purchased in late 2004 for approximately $750,000. The new owner is Mr. Mark Porter, a construction company owner from the Toronto area. Mr Porter has a history of purchasing and restoring Ontario buildings with heritage interest. His adept work crews are currently busy restoring and renovating the building which may open again as a restaurant in the near future.

I think Barrie needed visionaries like Mr. Porter when city council were tearing down such beautiful buildings like the old Post Office, Fire Hall and old City Hall.


Andria said...

I am currently conducting research on the history of the institutions within the province of Ontario. I was hoping that we may be able to share some information as to what is still standing as well as I have some photos that may be of interest to you. A few of the photos are posted at the link noted below, but I am currently in the process of editing and revising my footage. Feel free to get back to me either on my own blog or at akidd2@cogeco.ca Thanks in advance!

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