While renovating their restaurant in Downtown Barrie, the owners of McReilly’s Pub stumbled upon a unique piece of Barrie’s history: A jail cell with bars still on the windows.
McReilly’s Pub is located at 82 Dunlop Street in what is known as the McConkey building and it is absolutely bursting with local history. Mary Harris, Director of History and Research for the Barrie Historical Archives explained “This wonderful building is the oldest in the block between Owen and Mulcaster. It was built in 1866 and included a fire wall which was expensive and unusual at the time”. Located in a batch of wood buildings including some called “The Rookery”, Mary Harris went on to say “Built in the 1830s, 1840s and onwards, they were obviously rather prone to fire. One by one, each business block burned down with the Rookery being the very last to go in 1879. Brick was the only building material allowed after these fires, as you can imagine. The McConkey Building prevented the fire of 1879 from going any farther east along Dunlop Steet”.
As for the jail cell, the building was built by local businessman Thomas David McConkey who rose to become County Warden, MLA, and the Country Sherrif from 1875 until his death in 1890. This jail cell would have been part of Sherrif McConkey’s office.
McReilly’s says they are working with local historical experts to decide on what to do with the discovery and the possibility of preserving it.