Neighbourhood Guide: Allandale Historic Walking Tour

Welcome to Barrie’s waterfront – or is it the Allandale Waterfront where your train pulled in?

That’s the latest, modern twist on a debate that’s almost 125 years old! There was a time when Barrie and Allandale weren’t on the same track, so to speak. Today, Allandale is the destination station for Barrie if you’re travelling northbound on the GO train.

Soutshore Centre

The Tourism Barrie office is located in what was the Grand Trunk Railway’s mechanic’s building. A roundhouse was located to the east, and if you look closely while you walk contemplatively through Barrie’s Military Heritage Park, you may see some of the roundhouse foundation or a testament to it in the stonework.

The first train pulled into Allandale in October 1853 and sparked the founding of the Grand Trunk Rail yards and passenger station that welcomed travellers looking to escape the heat in the big city of York. The community that grew up there is Allandale, a name honouring Toronto politician and railway advocate William Allan.

Allandale Station

The historic station dates from 1905-1906 and is owned by the City of Barrie. The station sits empty now, despite the city having invested millions in updating and securing its exterior. An archeological dig is now taking place on the site, located at the west end of Kempenfelt Bay and at the beginning of an Indigenous travel route westwards.

The Farmhouse

Next to the station is The Farmhouse restaurant. This building was the first YMCA in Barrie and in the hey days of the railway, it provided lodgings for railway workers. The Farmhouse serves up locally designed meals made with local ingredients; the view from the balcony is unbeatable on a summer day.

Allandale’s quaint, tree-lined streets that still feature heritage Victorian homes as well as period homes built throughout the decades honour the men who shaped Allandale and its railway legacy. The vibrant town had several churches – Presbyterian, United, Anglican and Roman Catholic.

St. George

On Essa Road, you will see Essa Road Presbyterian, now closed. It was originally Allandale Presbyterian Church, and across the street in a small building on Burton Avenue was the Loyal Orange Lodge. Just a half a block down, you will see Burton Avenue United and St. George’s Anglican churches.

Remembering The Tornado Victims

Allandale put Barrie on the map in May 1985, when a tornado ripped through the area on its way east to the open waters of Lake Simcoe. On some Allandale streets, you will see newer homes interspersed with older ones – the newer ones being built after the tornado that killed eight, injured 155 and destroyed 300 homes.

Cumberland Street

Old Allandale, as it’s affectionately known, is located on the other side of the tracks from the lakeshore. To get there, cross Lakeshore at Tiffin Street and pass by the historic station and The Farmhouse Restaurant, walk a block and you’re there! Walk straight for two blocks, have a quick look at the Presbyterian church, then go back a block and head down Cumberland Street. Cumberland Street is a real treat, as it provides shade and a variety of housing types and styles.

Shear Park

Burton Avenue, which is a piece of Yonge Street that heads north from Lake Ontario, also provides some interesting homes to see, and a block north, Holgate Street, also provides a more modern mix of architecture and a place to stop at Shear Park. A tornado ripped through this area in May 1985 and there’s a plaque recalling the tragic storm that killed eight, as well as injuring and displacing many more.

For food in this area, choose between either Chinese or Mexican! Both provide lunch buffets: The Dragon, located on the corner of Essa Road and Burton Avenue or Cocina Mexicana Restaurante, 144 Burton Ave.

Don’t miss All About Used, an incredible two-storey treasure house of vintage items. Whether you’re looking for a unique jewellery piece, a small sculpture or artistic accessory or a larger piece, All About Used is a place to look – or just get lost in time in! Look for the building with a helicopter on the roof! Located at 171 Burton Ave.

On this walk, be sure to see:

  • Southshore Centre -the Grand Trunk Railway Office & Stores.Built in 1903 for the master mechanic, this is made of poured concrete. In 1994, it was expanded with a complementary addition on the bay side.
  • Allandale Station: Built in phases with the most recent in 1905-1906, the station features wide eaves, detailed windows and breezeways in an Italianate/Prairie School blend.
  • The Farmhouse: 268 Bradford St. was built in 1907 as the YMCA.
  • St. George’s Anglican: Built in 1892, this church also features a parish hall added in 1918.
  • 129 Cumberland St.: Built in the Second Empire style likely in the 1880s, this home has an incredible bay window and an interesting entrance pediment.
  • Unity Christian High School, 19 Burton Ave: Once an eight-room schoolhouse that served Allandale, this building dates to 1906. It was expanded, served as a public school for over a century then was sold to a private Christian group to be a high school.




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