History is important. All history is local.

Whiskey and wickedness

Barrie and Midhurst share many characteristics but Midhurst is not like Barrie in several ways.

Midhurst has certainly never been called wicked in almost 200 years.

This is a terrific book by Larry Cotton who just happens to be a retired Vespra township planner.



“Barrie is the wickedest town in the Dominion” said the YMCA in 1874. Several prominent nineteenth century Toronto newspapers also supported this viewpoint.

The story of Barrie between 1815 and 1885 is the tale of a community with a past soaked in whiskey. It has been stated that whiskey was its father and the British military was its mother. During its growth and development, the Town wrestled with the demon alcohol in almost every facet of its day to day life.

Whiskey. It played a prominent part in pioneer life in Ontario. Cheap, plentiful and fashionable, whiskey consumption was widespread among all classes and ages of people. Considered to be essential for promoting good health; safer than drinking water; considerably cheaper than tea or coffee – whiskey was the beverage of choice. Alcohol was difficult to avoid because almost all activities involved the casual and often heavy use of the stimulant. Like coffee is today…

 – Whiskey and Wickedness-Volume 1: Barrie, Ontario – 1815 to 1885, Larry Donald Cotton, Transcontinental Printing, 2004. p. 1



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