Barrie Gas Works

Happy Sunday Urban Explorers

Here is another post for Barrie history buffs.  Specifically, we present two images, taken in approximately 1923-1924 on some street work in downtown Barrie - 

Elizabeth Street (now Dunlop Street West) looking East towards Five-Points. There are still a good number of structures in the older photograph which still stands.  Here is a quick round-up of some businesses visible in the old pic -
Of note - the Capitol Theatre, which at the time of the photograph is only about a year or two old.  Continuing along the south side of Elizabeth is the optometrist O. R. Rusk (newspaper advertisement clipped from a latter date after the street re-naming), P. C. Lloyd, Funeral Director and then the G. G. Moore Garage (tires, car parts and petroleum fuel).

On the north side of Elizabeth we can see Bryson's Ice Cream shop and then the Wellington Hotel (burnt down - see our post here).  In the far background at the five-points intersection is the Sterling Bank of Canada where Sam the Record Man was last before it too, burnt down.
Here is another image of the pipe laying gang on Bayfield Street looking north to the Simcoe Hotel, also taken during 1923 / 1924 during the pipe laying construction downtown.

Today's street-scape is nearly unrecognizable with the Maddy Centre occupying the south-west corner but the Simcoe still in its place.

These two old images were purported to be of watermain installation from the waterworks pumping station foremerly located at the base of Mary Street, but we fairly certain these are gas lines instead.  Water mains would have been a single line of 6 to 8 inch ductile or cast iron pipe laid along the street but these smaller diameter pipes are racked up to two racks of four.  One theory is that these pipes may have carried steam, but our best guess is that these were gas lines being installed from the Coal Gasification Plant formerly located on Dunlop Street near Louisa, currently undeveloped due to significant soil contamination, which is still being remediated.  There were two steel holding tanks at this site capable of holding 96,000 cubic feet of coal gas and a railroad spur to deliver the coal.

The Barrie Gas Company provided gas for lighting, cooking, heating and power in Barrie, Ontario, between 1878 and 1938.  At the plant, coal was converted to make coal gas, which was piped to customers to burn for illumination, heating, and cooking.  The Barrie gas works operated from about 1878 to about 1939.  The City took over the gas works to make it a public utility approximately 1928.  The main reason for its decline (other than the process being 'messy' and producing hazardous waste) was most consumers favouring electric for lighting and cooking.


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