Some time back in one of these columns (in the year 2000, I believe) I was reminiscing about homes in the Barrie area, and what their former lives had included.

For instance, before the Bayclub was built in the 70’s, there was a Supertest Station on the corner, and two stately homes towards Albert St. For many, many years, the home closest to Albert was known as the ‘poor house.’ It had been donated by its owner and was a sanctuary for the disadvantaged. Funny location for it, right across from Ovenden College, Barrie’s private girls’ school, long gone now, replaced by the multi storey seniors apartment at 1 Blake St.

Anyway, I mentioned a railway station that used to sit near Ball Planing Mill and when it ceased being a railway station, was moved to Donald St where it continues today as someone’s home.

Enter Bill Bradford.

Not content to just read about this, Bill set out to find it. The current owners are renovating, and Bill drove up and down the street, pausing, looking, and finally decided that #84 looked like it might have been a station. He drove to the house at various times of the day, never to find the owners home.

However, this is one determined guy. He knocked at the door of #82 and was told that yes, indeed, #84 had been a train station, at least the front part had been. Bill then knocked at #86 and struck paydirt! Mrs. Harrison grew up in the station! She was the daughter of Meaford and Irene Donnelly, the family who moved the station to Donald St in 1953 and lived in it until Mr. Donnelly died.

The station had been the end of the Hamilton and Northwestern Line, located on the Wright farm, just behind the old Mansfield Denman (General Tire) plant, and west of the old Ball Planing Mill.

The Donnelly’s lived as a family in the “Donald St” station, with its original single dormer, board and batten siding, later adding a small room on the rear. The Donnellys even left the small cupola that was positioned in the centre of the roof.

The station had two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room and bathroom.

After the Donnelly energy moved out, the Tiggs moved in and more construction occurred, a two storey addition to the rear, changes in the roofline, removal of the large overhang and the cupola.

And so this historic, interesting building is remorphed into a house! And Bill Bradford’s thoroughness has brought it back to us.

Thanks, Bill.

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