The New Meridian Place & Memorial Square

Explore the space

Welcome! You’re about to embark on a historical journey through time that begins over 200 years ago right here on the edge of Kempenfelt Bay.

The 17 walking stops will take you through a journey of deep community learning. The historical reverence of this small area is absolutely outstanding.

Additionally, you will also learn about design principles and elements applied to the redevelopment of Meridian Place & Memorial Square, including why these design elements were chosen and how they not only preserve the historical components of the space, but modernize it so that our community and visitors can enjoy it for another 200 years.

Start your tour by clicking on #1!

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #1 1

HISTORICAL ELEMENT: 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 major trade and transportation route. The Nine Mile Portage remained a favoured trade and supply route through to the War of 1812. 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.


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.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #2 2


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.

DESIGN ELEMENT: East Promenade

The trees, gardens and soft scape create a pedestrian friendly space with a European feel. One of the key aspects of the new design was to naturally and seamlessly transition between the hardscape into the softscape areas, utilizing the undulating terrain and elevation difference. The softscape grounds are maintained and planned with great attention to detail and present a naturalized feel that helps make the space comfortable any day of the week. The promenades also make the entire space accessible which was a key component to the design ensuring all forms of mobility were taken into account.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #3 3


Presented to the citizens of Barrie and District by The Bank of Toronto in June 1891. It was refinished in the Centennial Year of 1953. The Bank of Toronto was founded in 1855 by a group of grain dealers and flour millers and was quickly recognized as a conservative yet efficient and profitable bank and expanded throughout the province. In 1955 it merged with The Dominion Bank which is now known present day as TD Bank Group.

DESIGN ELEMENT: Accessibility

An important design component of the space is that it is completely accessible. Access into the space via the promenades, the promenades themselves and the ramps to Memorial Square all work together to make sure all methods of mobility were taken into consideration.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #4 4


In future, all 3 plinths will be installed with permanent works of art. In the meantime, the two vacant plinths offer opportunity for temporary exhibition or live performance. They serve as the perfect platform for creativity at key locations within Meridian Place.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #5 5


This was a unique public private partnership that brought together the downtown businesses, the City of Barrie and well as the local community. The fundraising initiative behind this whole project was led by the Downtown Barrie (BIA) representing the businesses and the community. This wall represents the community members and organizations who worked with the BIA to support the project financially.


There are three patios throughout the space - two on the East Promenade and the third on the West Promenade. 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.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #6 6

HISTORICAL ELEMENT: Memorial Square 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.

DESIGN ELEMENT: Expanded Memorial Square footprint

Memorial Square encapsulates the entire Cenotaph and supporting area. As part of the redevelopment, that area is now 10x the size. 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 the Barrie Cenotaph and Memorial Square expanded is a great thing. This expanded area now permits most military celebrations to occur within the Memorial Square area.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #7 7

DESIGN ELEMENT: Expanded Memorial Square footprint

Donated by local business, Forgather Floral Co., painted by local artists Katie Green and Marlisha Lewis of Spare Room Barrie, and facilitated by the Downtown Barrie BIA in partnership with STEPS Public Art (I HeART Main Street Art Program), the public piano is available to everyone to play all day, everyday! To recognize and support Barrie’s ‘Bee City’ designation, the piano has been painted with a pollinator theme.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #8 8


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 memory is honoured is with the signage which reflects the direction that Fred Grant Street flowed.

DESIGN ELEMENT: 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).

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #9 9


The Urn Wall, designed by regional artist Marlene Hilton Moore, contains sacred soil from the April 1917 battlefields of Vimy Ridge. The soil symbolically contains the DNA of Canadian soldiers that lived and fought in the fields and trenches of Vimy. The Urn Wall is placed strategically within Memorial Square, in dialogue with the Cenotaph, which was created to honour local lives lost in World War I. All are remembered.

Marlene Hilton Moore is a regionally-based, nationally recognized artist. Other works of public art and memorials include the Borden Legacy Monument (2016) CFB Borden, Angus, Ontario, Vimy Centennial Bugler (2018) in Vimy, France, and Wiidookdaadiwin (2014-2021), in Springwater, Ontario.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #10 10


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.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #11 11

HISTORICAL ELEMENT: 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. 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.

DESIGN ELEMENT: Sight Lines to Waterfront

From this point in the tour, we can look out toward Kempenfelt Bay and see that the sight lines are unobstructed. It was a foundational principle that sight lines to and from the water were not obstructed in any manner, and instead promoted a connection to and from the waterfront. The stage canopy doesn't block the view of the waterfront, instead, the canopy literally creates a picture frame of the view.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #12 12


Originally buried in 1989, it was dug up during construction and buried here along the east promenade to be opened in 2089. A unique opportunity to layer history within history. When 2089 arrives it will be really amazing to see the items of the past and compare and contrast as well as reflect on the entire history of the space.


The elevation difference from the bottom of the space (at Simcoe St) to the top of the space (at Dunlop St East) is significant and presented both a design and construction challenge. Ultimately, it was a fantastic opportunity to naturally utilize the grade differential to incorporate seating tiers that create a wrap around effect - almost like being hugged into the space. Each tier incorporates a hard surface, granular surface and grass area and provides unobstructed views to the performing stage.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #13 13


The Horn and The Heart was commissioned in honour of the late Robert “Bob” Hunter, a prominent Barrie resident and performer who played in several bands including the Barrie Concert Band, the Baytowne Big Band, the Skyliners and The Bob Hunter Band.

Thinking through the experience of live music and the relationship between the performer and the audience, McEwen's sculpture incorporates a double-sided horn and a split heart form. Made with stainless steel activated by the artist's signature laser-cut star formations, The Horn and The Heart is an elegant work that evokes the experience, emotion, and memory associated with live musical performance.

John McEwen is recognized as a pioneer in contemporary arts who is internationally renowned for his mastery of weathering steel. His creations feature among the world's most prestigious collections and exhibits, and his large-scale installations occupy public spaces across Canada. In 2019 McEwen became a Member of the Order of Canada.

You can learn more about this public art commission and the Hunter family's contribution to the project here: https://www.barrie.ca/Culture/PublicArt/Pages/Bob-Hunter-Public-Art-Project.aspx

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #14 14

DESIGN ELEMENT: West Promenade

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. This allows the promenade to easily turn into an event space. Furthermore, the West Promenade is fully accessible to permit all methods of mobility.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #15 15


Also found throughout the space are 3 plinths intended for public art. The City of Barrie's public art coordinator collaborates with the BIA to engage artists based locally and beyond to develop public art projects that enliven our downtown. These installations may be temporary or permanent but they all contribute to our identity, sense of place, and community.

In future, all 3 plinths will be installed with permanent works of art. In the meantime, the two vacant plinths offer opportunity for temporary exhibition or live performance. They serve as the perfect platform for creativity at key locations within Meridian Place.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #16 16


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 the 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

DESIGN ELEMENT: Performing Stage

The performing stage was a key addition to the redeveloped space. It needed to be versatile for different kinds of events. A key element is the multi-directional performance options; the majority of performance will point toward Dunlop Street to crowds gathered on the tiers and steps. However, performances can also point 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. LED lighting runs all along the bottom of the stage as well as a full spectrum of RGB/LED up-lit lighting was installed for the canopy. The lighting can be programmed for each performance, annual celebrations or public recognitions.

Meridian Place Walking Tour Stop #17 17

HISTORICAL ELEMENT: Over 200 years of history!

Well we hope you enjoyed your time travel around Meridian Place and Memorial Square. We hope you discovered something new regarding the deep historic roots of the area. Further, how the redevelopment modernizes the space, to not only highlight the history but highlight our present day to ensure the next generation has 200 more years of history to come!

DESIGN ELEMENT: Connecting the waterfront

As a founding principle, it was imperative that the new space create a direct link between the downtown and waterfront. By designing to the roads edge - the closest point to our waterfront - and making the crosswalk fully accessible, it is now very easy and natural to transition to and from Downtown Barrie and Barrie's waterfront area.


Local businesses and members of the community came together to support and celebrate the redevelopment of Meridian Place and Memorial Square. The Downtown Barrie BIA and City of Barrie are grateful for the following supporters.

  • Meridian Credit Union
  • Wildfire Peacock Foundation
  • Kiwanis Club of Barrie
  • The Outdoor Performance Group
  • The Jepp Family
  • The Sargeant Co. Ltd
  • James and Wendy Massie
  • Angela Pidutti & Craig Russell
  • The Galbraith-Buckingham Family
  • The Pratt Family
  • D.V Bell Foundation
  • The Moore Family
  • The Dunkley Family
  • Sandy & Lee McDonald
  • The Stollery Family
  • Paul J Lynch
  • Wayne Hay
  • The Coulson-Pearce Family
  • Stew Garner