Barrie club loses meeting space in fire

The Barrie District Stamp Club has lost its long-time meeting venue after a major fire at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Feb. 19.

After residents reported a rash of fires that evening, officers with the Barrie Police Service searched the area for a suspected arsonist, who they eventually arrested in the early morning hours of Feb. 20. Police charged a 37-year-old Barrie man, whose identity wasn’t revealed, with three counts of arson plus a probation violation.

“The interior of the church room that caught fire is now left covered in ashes,” according to a CTV News report published the morning after the fires at the church plus three other locations.

The church fire was quickly contained and caused no injuries; however, the 140-year-old building will remain closed to the community until further notice.

“This is devastating to our church family, but we will work through this with faith and hope,” Rev. Joanne Lee told the weekly Barrie Advance newspaper.

The church fire will also impact the local philatelic community just one year after collectors returned to in-person events, including club meetings and shows, following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based in Southern Ontario about 90 kilometres north of Toronto, the Barrie club is chapter 73 of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada and dates back to 1960 (although earlier clubs in Barrie were formed as early as 1889).

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