If you’re a newer resident of the City, chances are you’ve seen a few City of Barrie landmarks. We’re fortunate to host one of Canada’s largest Artisan Markets with our Kempenfest Celebration each summer. More than that, Barrie is known as a city that ‘curates the creative.’
Today we’re exploring some of our better-known landmarks and a brief history of how they came to be.
The Memorial Arch
This imposing installation, also known as the “Archer Arch” (in connection to former Mayor Ross Archer), is known as a Triumphal Monument or Memorial in the art world. With the shape being that of a mansard roof, it’s reminiscent of the original Market Building/City Hall.
The original building was designed by Toronto architect Joseph Sheard and built by local contractor Alexander Graham. This beautiful building served us as City Hall until 1985, when it was demolished. On a clear night, the Arch can be seen right across the bay.
The Rotary Fountain
Barrie has one of the most beautiful waterfronts in our province and we’re fortunate that it’s kept for public use with easy access. Many smaller landmarks are located around the waterfront, but the Rotary Fountain is one of the three most photographed.
This fountain was initially intended to be slightly offshore and appear as a ‘floating island.’ However, upkeep proved very difficult that way, so a spit has been created to adjoin it to the mainland. Our Rotary Club dedicated this much-loved fountain on July 1, 1967.
The Spirit Catcher
The Spirit Catcher is the second City of Barrie landmark that is found on the waterfront. This has become the most iconic installation in the City and graces many forms of tourism merchandise. Barrie Uncovered even uses it in one of its logos.
It was designed by sculptor Ron Baird for the 1986 Vancouver Expo and donated to the Barrie Gallery Project (Now MacLaren Art Centre) in 1987. This is the first permanent and undoubtedly most significant installation done by the centre.
It took Baird six months to create the 20-tonne steel sculpture. At an imposing 21 meters high, the 16 kinetic quills can be seen as you enter the bay.
The Sea Serpent
Ron Baird also designed this very whimsical installation, which holds an exceptional place in many hearts. Originally intended as a companion piece to the Spirit Catcher, initially purchased by the Sellars family, it spent many years on their property in Oro-Medonte. After the death of Mrs. Sellars, the sculpture was moved to her son’s house in Kingston by the family. It was donated to our City by the son in June 2016 as a magical piece that many visitors to Heritage Park adore.
The Verdin Clock
This four-faced, 16 foot tall, posted clock was donated as an installation by the Rotary Club. It was presented to the City of Barrie to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday and the Founding of the Rotary. Very interesting are the more than 1000 personalized granite bricks around the base of the clock. These bricks were sold as a fundraiser to cover the entire cost of the installation.
The Spirit Clock
Even though this installation isn’t located in the Downtown or Lakefront area, we travel to it next for an excellent reason. The very gifted Ron Baird also created this intricate sculpture as a City of Barrie landmark. Certainly, the City of Barrie has developed an excellent relationship with this spectacular artist.
The Spirit Clock was curated for us by the very prominent Pratt Family, a well-known local developer.
The design of this clock represents Barrie and Yonge Street and its proximity to the Go Station. With its 34 feet of height and 22 feet of width, this imposing train-themed clock reminds everyone of that.
Baird was once quoted saying, ‘She is the Steampunk, granddaughter of Barrie’s Spirit Catcher. In the tradition of popular public European clocks, she will dance on the hour.’
The Horn and Heart Sculpture
This final installation holds a special place in the hearts of many local musicians. The beautiful sculpture honours the memory of past resident Robert Hunter.
Bob, as he was known, founder of the Bob Hunter Band, gave years of his life in service to the community both as a musician and service club activities.
The sculpture, designed by local Barrie artist, John McEwen represents Bob’s love of performing, commitment to this community and vision of Barrie’s waterfront as a place to gather and enjoy. Ironically, this forward-thinking resident had proposed a space remarkably similar to Meridian Square shortly before his death in 1999.
City of Barrie Landmarks
We would love to hear from you if you have pictures and histories of any other City of Barrie landmarks or art installations.
Written By: Jane Laker
Photo Credit: Stephen Elliott
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