Berford Street - Part 2

Figure W2A:  Looking south from the Arlington Hotel.  1889, c.1905, c.1925, 2001, 2022.

A little further south from the north end of Berford Street, Figure W2A offers some great views of Wiarton's main thoroughfare in various stages of its history. The Arlington Hotel stands at left. The Pacific Hotel (c. 1883) and the top of the Union Bank across the street, are visible at the next corner (William St.) down the road (See "Wiarton's Hotels" and "Wiarton's Banks" pages on this site). Busy with pedestrians and carriage traffic, Wiarton's commercial core had been been largely erected by 1905. It remains essentially the same today, although cars now crowd the street.

Figure W2B:  A southward view of Berford Street from the balcony of the Arlington Hotel.  c.1940.

Figure W2B shows a similar view from the 3rd floor balcony of the Arlington Hotel (corner of Berford and Boyd Streets) around 1940.  Looking down the street one can see the Wiarton Dairy with its horsedrawn delivery carriage, the Berford Theatre (c. 1934) next door and the Pacific Hotel.  On the far side of William St. is Hunter's Hardware.  Sadly, this view cannot be recreated today since the Arlington Hotel has long been closed and the balconies have been removed from the building.

Figure W2C:  A southward view of Berford Street from around 1900 and 2001.

The top image in Figure W2C gives an excellent early view of Berford Street from its intersection with William Street.  This photo, taken sometime around 1900 shows Wiarton at its prime.  The Union Bank (c. 1892) is again visible on the corner at far left, followed by the St. Albans Hotel (c. 1881).  The corner lot at right was the home of Hunter Hardware from 1866 until sometime in the 1980s.  The grey-coloured 3-storey brick building far down the right hand side was the Fielding Block which was severely damaged by fire in 1912, resulting in the loss of all the Town Clerk and Treasurer's records with it.

Note the eerie lack of automobiles or carriages in this image, only pedestrians and children on bicycles populate the street.  Note also, the early streetlamp hanging from the telephone pole at centre right.

The bottom image of Figure W2C offers an identical perspective in 2001.  The Union Bank, St. Alban's Hotel and Hunter Hardware have long since closed, but their contribution to the architecture of Wiarton remain.  Today, the streetlamps are fixed in position and much more plentiful!  Relatively sparse hydro poles and cross-street lines have replaced the abundant telegraph poles of early days.  The corner now also sports traffic lights, the town's first, installed in June of 1978.  The street itself is much more cluttered than it once was.  Parallel parking makes it seem narrower than in the earlier image.

Figure W2D:  Looking south on Berford Street just south of William St. (c. 1923, 2007 and 2022).

Figure W2D shows another southward view of Berford St., this time from just south of William St. At the time the top photo was taken in 1923, Wiarton was a town in transition. Most of the buildings lining Berford Street were erected during the early years when lumber was the main industry in town. However, in the 1920s, tourism began to assume that title. Thus, while the buildings, complete with awnings, look very similar to earlier views of the street (see above), note also the two sets of gasoline pumps on the left (in front of the former St. Alban's Hotel and another next door to the south). Berford Street had been surfaced in cement for the first time in 1920 and over the next two decades, rapid expansion in automobile ownership, coupled with Wiarton's re-orientation as a tourist destination, meant that several modest service centers and auto dealerships sprung up along the length of Berford St. Everyone wanted a share of this growth industry. Since then, however, the extremely competitive nature of the business has reduced the number of service stations (but not the number of cars!). Today only one gas station remains in Wiarton, a Petro-Canada, located on the west side of Berford Street, just north of the corner with Frank St. The town's last dealership for new cars has also closed (Chevrolet dealership at left in the middle image of W2D has been replaced by an expanded Pinkerton's Auto Supply - another long-time local business). The bottom image of W2D also shows the results of Wiarton's "Big Dig" which took place in 2020-2021. While much of the work was updating below-ground ininfrastructure, it also resulted in new streetscaping including new street lights.

Figure W2E:  A northward view of Wiarton's main street in the mid-1920s, 2001 and 2022.

Figure W2E gives us a view of Berford Street looking back in the opposite, northerly, direction. Automobile traffic dominates the street in this mid-1920's photo and the rock cut at the north end of Berford Street (see "Berford Street - Part 1") was soon to come.  The former St. Albans Hotel is shown at right, followed by the Union Bank.  On the left one can see William Symon & Sons, a long-standing clothier in Wiarton. This building was built by Mr. Symon in 1881 on the former lot of Wiarton's first schoolhouse. Similar perspectives from 2001 and 2022 are featured in the lower two images of Figure W2E.

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Postcards From the Bay was launched April 14, 2000


Copyright 2000 - Christopher R. Graham