THE BARRIE BELL, 1916-1921

"THE PRIDE OF THE HIGHWAY"

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Early History:

Between 1900 and 1910 the Canadian economy boomed. However, in Barrie, Ontario there was a sense that the town was being left behind. The town’s pro-industry mayor W.A. Boys, his council and prominent businessmen began to look for ways to bring industry to Barrie. On 12 June 1903, the Barrie Carriage Company was incorporated by letters patent under the Great Seal of the Province of Ontario to "manufacture and sell carriages, wagons, vehicles and harness and all parts and equipment for the same." It was capitalized at $40,000 in 400 shares of $100 each. By September 1904, the company’s impressive 50,000 square-foot, L-shaped three-story building at the corner of Ellen and John Streets was "complete and in running order." The factory was described by contemporaries as one of the best equipped in the province.

 

In 1915 Simon Dyment began negotiations with the Bell Motor Car Company of York, Pennsylvania to assemble the lightweight Bell automobile in Barrie. To finance the venture Dyment is reputed to have borrowed heavily using the family’s holdings as collateral. The loan was reported to be $750,000. Assembly of the car began at Barrie in 1916. Twenty-nine to forty Bell automobiles were assembled in Barrie. By 1918, the company was in deep financial trouble. The Bell automobile venture proved the undoing of the Barrie Carriage Company and the Dyment family fortune, forcing both into bankruptcy.


Barrie Bell Restoration Committee:

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The Bell automobile is extremely rare. Prior to 1990, it was believed that only one Bell remained in existence. An American-built Bell was restored in York, Pennsylvania and is currently owned by Mr. W.F.O. Rosenmiller II.

In 1990, Mr. Brian Jackson purchased a Barrie Bell body from Mr. G. Smith of Orillia, Ontario. Between 1990 and 1995, Jackson assembled local history surrounding the Barrie Bell and acquired some additional body parts.

Following conversations with the Mayor of Barrie, Janice Laking, The Barrie Bell Restoration Committee was officially formed in January 1996. The purpose of this entirely volunteer committee is to authentically restore the Bell car and then donate it to the City of Barrie for education, heritage and civic promotion purposes.

A fund-raising goal of $75,000 was set. To better achieve this goal, the Committee was incorporated as a not-for-profit company, under Ontario letters patent on 12 July 1996.


The Barrie Bell Restoration Committee is a registered charity under the provisions of the Canadian Income Tax Act and issues charitable receipts for income for donations of ten dollars and greater. Donations in our "Super Booster" category of $1,000 or more will be especially recognized.

 

Currently, our "Super Boosters" include:

Tom Ambeau / Magnifoam Technology Inc.

Barrie Automobile Dealers Association

Bertrand-Faure

A. J. Brown

Broadcast & Friends

Central Welding & Machine

 

Mr. and Mrs. William Dyment

Elite Auto Body

Georgian Pontiac

Heritage Barrie

Allan Hodgkinson / Canadian Tire, Barrie

 

Hogben, Mayhew, Hill Barristers and Solicitors

Huronia Insurance and Investments

Murray Irwin and Family

Brian and Patsy Jackson

Bob Jackson / Jackson’s Toyota

Robert Keto

Optimist Club of Stroud

Powell, Jones Chartered Accountants

Ron Ruff / Autohaus Barrie Limited

Rotary Club of Barrie

Shaw Cable 10

Steve Sperling / Maxsteve Limited

Harris Steele

 

At this point, the Committee’s biggest challenge is ensuring that it has the funds on hand to cover parts, materials, and the work that its dedicated and hard-working volunteer technical committee is unable to carry out on its own.

During 1997, the Committee raised almost $21,000 in cash and in-kind donations. However, we still need to raise a further $29,000 to get this extremely rare piece of Canadian automotive history back on the road.

Project Status:

 

 

We are also still on the lookout for any old photos or historical material on the old Barrie Carriage Company and the Bell Motor Car Company of York, Pa.

 

Parts Wish List:

The following parts are still required:

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-Lavine Steering Column

-Generator Dyneto #DA820830

-Starter/generator 

-Cut-Out Briggs & Stratton

-Atwater Kent Unisparker #H Controller

-Drive shaft

                                               

bcc.jpg (108836 bytes) With good fortune and hard work by the restoration committee the Barrie Bell will once again be "The Pride of the Highway."

If anyone would like further information about the Bell, would like us to make a presentation to a group or organization or would like to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact us.


CONTACT US

Barrie Bell Restoration Committee

230 Bayview Drive - Unit 5A

Barrie, Ontario L4N 5E9

Phone: 705-739-8355 Fax: 705-739-8369

Or

Barrie Bell Restoration Committee Chair,

B. Jackson, 8319 Highway 11, Stroud, Ontario, L0L 2M0,

telephone (705) 722-3825 or (705) 739-8355

e-mail bjackson@barint.on.ca

 


 Please help us restore Canadian automotive history!

see restoration pictures here


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