YESTERDAY AND NOW: The old Murchison store on Mulcaster St. still looks the same today

The bay window and first floor changes in the south building likely occurred when the structure was converted into apartments in the 1940s

This ongoing series from Barrie Historical Archives Curator Deb Exel shows old photos from the collection and one from today, along with the story behind them.

DJ Murchison Store – Mulcaster Street

Last week we talked about Duncan John Murchison and his gorgeous Sunnidale Road home, Woodlawn. He was able to afford to build such an impressive estate thanks to the success of his dry goods business.

Murchison, born in Etobicoke in 1833, partnered with Thomas C. Watkins to form Watkins and Murchison, a wholesale company. Their business then grew into The Right House, a successful dry goods house in Hamilton, which continued as a large store until the 1980s.

When Murchison arrived in Barrie in 1868, he bought property on Mulcaster Street and quickly built his store.

The lower floors of what is now 28-32 Mulcaster St. would have been Murchison’s store. In 1885, Murchison’s son Duncan Charles occupied the top floor. DC was a partner of Edward J. Hearn and their company, Hearn and Murchison, Barristers, Solicitors, Conveyancers and Money to Loan Office, was located above DJ Murchison’s store on Market Street (now called Mulcaster), with a branch on Potter’s Block in Tottenham.

In the summer of 1889, Duncan Charles Murchison married Minnie Elvira Ball, the only daughter of builder George Ball, in a brilliantly fashionable ceremony at Collier Street Methodist Church. The interest of this marriage was such, considering the importance and the social status of the two families, that an hour before the service, the building was packed with barely standing places – the body of the church and galleries filled with “Barrie’s best citizens and the crème de la crème of their society.

Needless to say, the church was lavishly decorated with rare and fragrant flowers, and the bride, her servants, family, and guests were all beautifully decorated. The bride and groom walked out of the church, walking on a carpet to waiting cars to take them to the Ball House on John Street (now Maple Avenue) where 100 guests enjoyed an elegant and lavish reception.

In June 1900, Duncan Charles was a partner in the McCarthy, Boys and Murchison law firm, operating from offices in the McCarthy Block on Dunlop Street.

The building on Mulcaster Street remained in the Murchison family until Duncan Sr.’s death in 1900.

By around 1904 the property appeared to have two sections: the three-story building, or north section, had a grocery store on one side and a shoe store on the side closest to Collier Street, in 1907. The south section (now 24-26 Mulcaster St.) would have had a grocery store in the northern half and an engine repair shop in the southern half of the building.

This structure once had a balcony on the second floor and an unusual fireplace. The changes to the bay window and the ground floor of the south building likely occurred when it was converted into apartments in the 1940s.

Today, the old Murchison store is part of a small stretch of Mulcaster, between Collier and Dunlop streets, which has retained all of its original buildings except the old fire station and l Victoria hotel.

About Marilyn Perkins

Check Also

Labor group says US should reject Amazon’s plan to buy MGM

A smartphone with the Amazon logo is seen in front of the MGM logo displayed …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *