Barrie Through the Ages: Glebe Block

Reflecting on our past can help us move forward.

Working with the Barrie Historical Archives, we are happy to present an ongoing series exploring the history of Barrie, famous landmarks, and lesser-known places that might not be around or have changed dramatically over the decades.

Glebe Block

Glebe Block has had its fair share of ups and downs over its 150-year history with changing ownerships, dismantling, and even several fires.

So named because it started life as a property belonging to the Church of England who leased it out for income rather than using it for religious purposes. In 1852 the land passed to a private owner and one thing you might not know is that the block actually faced the bay and not Dunlop Street for the first few decades of its existence.

In 1868 the first of three fires would ravage through the block, destroying several stores. Only 3 short years later another fire would destroy more of the block, including the home of George Plaxton, the then Fire Chief of Barrie! When the block was rebuilt in 1871 it would now face Dunlop Street, but its troubles weren’t quite over yet as a fire that destroyed several buildings across the street would also damage the Glebe Block’s still wooden roof.

Black and White image courtesy of the Barrie Historical Archive

In 1880, Duff’s grocery would take over the corner lot and for the next few decades would see some major renovations. That corner lot would change hands several times over the next 100 years, including H.W Payne and Company, British Consols, Jackson’s Grill, and more.

Overlooking a place that has been called Railroad Square, Station Gore, Post Office Square, and Fred Grant Square, you know it now as Memorial Square, and that Glebe Block has had a long and resilient history in Barrie.

If you want to learn more about Glebe Block and all of Barrie’s history, head over to the Barrie Historical Archives, Barrie’s online museum. It’s full of pictures, videos, audio, and documents spanning nearly 200 years and it’s completely free!

Be sure to check back soon for more in our Barrie Through the Ages series and we’ll also be updating this interactive map so you can explore Barrie’s history yourself!

Featured image courtesy of The Barrie Historical Archives via