The New Meridian Place & Memorial Square

Explore the space

Welcome! You’re about to depart on a historical journey through time that all begins 100s of years ago right on the edge of Kempenfelt Bay. Along the way, take a moment to learn about the design components of our new Meridian Place & Memorial Square, why these design decisions were chosen and how they preserve the historical components of the space.

Meridian Place and Memorial Square Points of Interest

Marker Number 1

Start of the Nine Mile Portage

  • Large communities of pre-Huron peoples lived around the Kempenfelt Bay area
  • They used the Nine Mile Portage as a trade and transportation route
  • The Nine Mile Portage remained a favoured trade and supply route through to the War of 1812

Elevation

  • The tiers were designed to address elevation from Simcoe Street to Dunlop Street in a usable way
  • The stairs, along with the promenades, act as a conduit between the waterfront and the Downtown
  • The bronze inlay of the artwork and the graphics came from the original script of a map from the 1800s which included the water’s edge, canoes and the beginning of the Nine Mile Portage trail
Marker Number 2

Station Gore

  • In June of 1865, the railway was extended from Allandale into Barrie and stopped at Station Gore
  • The water’s edge was infilled to allow for this extension
  • From here, people could board the Lady of the Lakes steamboat and head to Orillia and Muskoka

East Promenade

  • The trees, gardens and soft scape create a pedestrian friendly space with a European feel
  • The promenades also make the entire space accessible which was a key component to the design
Marker Number 3

Time Capsule

  • Originally buried in 1989, it was dug up during construction and buried here along the east promenade to be opened in 2089
  • A strange historical parallel: when the time capsule was originally buried in 1989, Mayor Lehman’s father was the Chair of the BIA. When the time capsule was re-buried just a few weeks ago, Mayor Lehman was the same age his father was at the initial burial

Accessibility

  • An important design component of the space is that it is completely accessible. The ramps to the promenades, the promenades themselves and the ramps to Memorial Square all work together to make the entire space completely accessible
Marker Number 4

Donor Wall

  • The fundraising initiative behind this whole project was led by the Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA)
  • This wall represents the community members and organizations who worked with us to support the project financially
  • Everyone from Meridian Credit Union, our naming sponsor, to our cenotaph champions whose donations were centered around the Memorial Square expansion

Patios

  • There are 3 patios throughout the space – one by Casa Cappuccino, a second by Swirleez and the third by the West Prominade next to the old BMO building
  • The patios were incorporated into the design such that the buildings wouldn’t become barriers to the space, but rather build into the space and maintain that feeling of fluidity
  • Also found throughout the space are 3 foundations – these are foundations for public art
  • We are working with the public art committee to curate and put together an outdoor public art tour
Marker Number 5

Fred Grant

  • In 1957, this space was named Fred Grant Square in honour of the local journalist and historian for “saving the history of the town from oblivion” (Quote from Barrie Archives)
  • Fred Grant Street was the name of the curved street that ran around Fred Grant Square and one way that we honoured that memory is with the signage which reflects the direction that Fred Grant Street flowed

Red Maple Trees at Memorial Square

  • The four Red Maple trees at Memorial Square represent each of the four divisions of the Canadian Corps who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge
  • The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the first time all four divisions fought together as one formation
  • The Battle was a great success and marked a turning point in the war but came with a heavy cost as over 3500 Canadian soldiers lost their lives
  • Each tree is uplit and the colour of the lights can represent the colours of each division (red, blue, gray and green)
Marker Number 6

Cenotaph

  • In partnership with Vespra and Innisfil, Barrie erected the cenotaph on June 28th, 1922
  • The Cenotaph honours our fallen veterans and supports our military heritage - past, present and future
  • Members of the Legion, Base Borden and Grey & Simcoe Foresters have said that in a time when cenotaphs and war memorials are being tucked away due to development, having ours expanded is a great thing
  • Memorial Square is now 10x the size it was
Marker Number 7

Vimy Ridge Monument

  • This new monument houses the urn which holds sacred soil from Vimy Ridge
  • The soil is symbolic of the Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917

Marlene Hilton Moore

  • Marlene Hilton Moore was the artist who designed the Vimy Ridge Monument
  • She has also designed the monument at Base Borden, a Vimy Bugler sculpture in France, a memorial at Confederation Square across from Parliament Hill in Ottawa and many other places including one at the Simcoe County Museum
Marker Number 8

Post Office

  • In 1884, Barrie’s most beautiful building was erected - the Post Office
  • The space became known as Post Office Square
  • Stood for 74 years until it was demolished in 1954 at which point the space was renamed Fred Grant Square
Marker Number 9

End of Nine Mile Portage

  • For the Huron/Ouendat peoples, the end of the Nine Mile Portage was a trading area that was actually the halfway point between Kempenfelt Bay and the Nottawasaga River
  • Again, the original script from a 19th Century map has been featured here
  • The War of 1812 proved the worth of Fort Willow as a supply depot for the British military
Marker Number 10

Sight Lines & Flow Lines

  • From this point in the tour, we can look out toward Kempenfelt Bay and see that the sight lines and flow of vision is unobstructed
  • Stage canopy doesn’t block the view of the waterfront. Instead, the canopy frames the view
Marker Number 11

West Promenade

  • Again, the purpose of the promenades was to allow for fluid movement from the waterfront to the Downtown
  • Features of the West Promenade include the ability to supply power and water to vendors who may want to set up here
  • Allows us to easily turn this into an event space
Marker Number 12

Poppies

  • Bronze inlay poppies have been carefully placed in the risers of the steps/tiers so that they’re noticed as you ascend to Memorial Square
  • A symbol of remembrance as they were one of the few plants to continue to grow in the battlefield
  • The poppies are symbolic also of this Memorial Square space that honours those who lived, felt dawn and saw sunset glow – something that we’re all lucky enough to do as well right from this very space

Stage

  • Versatile for different kinds of events
  • You can perform toward Dunlop Street to a smaller crowd gathered on the tiers and steps
  • Or, you can perform toward the water to a larger crowd that could span across the street and into Heritage Park
  • The lighting is also a key feature of the space and runs all along the bottom of the stage
  • The stage can also be uplit while each seat or step is underlit
  • The colour of the lighting can also change so that it suits each event or celebration – like red and green at Christmas