THE BARRIE BELL, 1916-1921
"THE PRIDE OF THE HIGHWAY"
Between 1900 and 1910 the Canadian economy boomed. However, in Barrie, Ontario there was a sense that the town was being left behind. The towns 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 companys 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 familys 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:
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
A. J. Brown
Broadcast & Friends
Central Welding & Machine
Mr. and Mrs. William Dyment
Elite Auto Body
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 / Jacksons Toyota
Optimist Club of Stroud
Powell, Jones Chartered Accountants
Ron Ruff / Autohaus Barrie Limited
Rotary Club of Barrie
Shaw Cable 10
Steve Sperling / Maxsteve Limited
At this point, the Committees 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.
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:
-Lavine Steering Column
|-Generator Dyneto #DA820830
-Cut-Out Briggs & Stratton
-Atwater Kent Unisparker #H Controller
|With good fortune and hard work by the
restoration committee the Barrie Bell will once again be "The Pride of the
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.
Barrie Bell Restoration Committee
230 Bayview Drive - Unit 5A
Barrie, Ontario L4N 5E9
Phone: 705-739-8355 Fax: 705-739-8369
Barrie Bell Restoration Committee Chair,
B. Jackson, 8319 Highway 11, Stroud, Ontario, L0L 2M0,
telephone (705) 722-3825 or (705) 739-8355
see restoration pictures here
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