Simcoe County is the largest in the province. Located near the shores of Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay, it is actually larger than the province of Prince Edward Island. Simcoe County is home to several major communities – 2 cities, 6 towns and 9 townships with Barrie being at the centre of its growth. Orillia, Wasaga Beach, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Midland and Collingwood surround the epicentre of Barrie. Each reveals its own unique individual attractions, history and atmosphere. Simcoe County not only provides a great vacation destination, but also a great place to raise a family amongst its picturesque communities. Experience the magnificence of the region while being only an hour or so drive from Toronto. Simcoe County also has deep historical roots and significance for Indigenous Peoples. Their cultural contributions enrich the character, history and composition of every community. Moreover, there are three Reserves within the County of Simcoe: Christian Island 30, Christian Island 30 A and Mnjikaning First Nation 32.
With Simcoe County’s close proximity to Toronto, it is no wonder that the population continues to thrive. Toronto is accessible through multiple major highways and public transit. That being said, Barrie is also home to many businesses and industries. If you are looking to live and work in the same place, look no further than Barrie, Bradford, Innisfil, Collingwood, Alliston or Orillia. All of these great communities offer something for everyone. Simcoe County is home to some of Canada’s most sought after waterfront properties. How could you have it any better than living in cottage country and being a half an hour commute to work? House prices are still relatively affordable as compared to towns closer to the city, which gives families the opportunity to have a great work/life balance.
The city of Barrie can be viewed as the hub of Simcoe County connecting all corners of the region. Barrie is the fastest growing city in Canada situated around Kempenfelt Bay on Lake Simcoe. Torontonians seeking a smaller community environment from which to live, work, play or commute consider Barrie the perfect satellite city for Toronto. Barrie offers affordable housing close to the water, sport activities, skiing, snowboarding and cross-country trails in and around the county. In for a little history? Stop by the refurbished historical site of Barrie’s Old Train Station. The Go Station located at the south end of Barrie connects the city to communities like Newmarket, Aurora, King and Richmond Hill all the way through to Union Station in Toronto. Travel via bus or train while relaxing and catching up on sleep, work or maybe even a good book.
Barrie is home to Canada’s largest outdoor artisan flea market; Kempenfest. Experience live entertainment during the summer months. Barrie has also revitalized the waterfront to make access to the lakeshore more welcoming and accessible. Take your family on a picnic at one of the several locations around the bay, including: Heritage Park, Centennial Beach Park or the South Shore Community Centre. Enjoy the outdoors by walking or biking along the city’s trails or relaxing on the beach. In the winter months, skate at Heritage Park’s open-air rink or put your skates on at one of the many local hockey arenas. It’s also "a must" to discover the marvellous waterfront ice sculptures during the winter carnival. Lastly, take your family just outside of town to Snow Valley Ski Resort or a little further to Horseshoe Valley or Mount St. Louis Moonstone for skiing or tubing!
If shopping is your main goal while visiting Barrie, this city has it all. Mapleview Drive at Barrie’s south end has recently developed Park Place where you’ll find anything and everything you need or want. Social events at the Community Centre provides spectacular views of activities on the Bay or romantic sunsets during all seasons of the year. All amenities are close to downtown shopping, pubs, cafes and entertainment. Travelling a little further north along Bayfield Street you’ll find a mile long stretch of additional shopping, restaurants and specialty markets – ideal for residents and perfect for visitors driving through the city on their way to cottages and resorts.
Orillia is situated approximately 30 minutes north of Barrie, along Highway 400 and Highway 11. Located in the “heart" of lake country it is known nationwide as a premier destination for outdoor adventures. Whether enjoying the great outdoors or visiting heritage museums, festivals or live theatre, Orillia has something that will interest all those who choose to live in or visit this growing community. In recent years, Orillia has revitalized the lakefront with a beautiful boardwalk outlining its great marina and incorporating new parks and beaches. Take a leisurely walk along the boardwalk where individuals, couples, and families gather to enjoy the scenic views. Bring your picnic lunch and enjoy! Once you’ve finished your relaxing stroll, you might feel inspired enough to walk along one of the main streets to find something fresh and delicious that can take care of any appetite. Unique shops and bakeries will tempt your taste buds. Fresh breads and pastries for all! You won’t be able to resist! Mariposa Market is a "must-see" destination for city residents or out-of-town travellers.
Orillia offers a host of recreational activities and facilities for summer or winter enthusiasts. Depending on the season, Orillia offers you many athletic fields, skateboard parks, off-leash dog areas, volleyball courts, marinas and walking trails. Winter fanatics will be found at arenas, curling rinks, toboggan hills and of course enjoying the "winter wonderland" atmosphere.
Orillia is proud to claim home for several well known national individuals and cultural landmarks. Gordon Lightfoot, Orillia’s pride and joy, was born here. Stephen Leacock had a summer home in Orillia. Franklin Carmichael; painter, and Elizabeth Wyn Wood; sculptor, two of the Group of Seven, were also born in Orillia. Folk, Blues and Jazz Festivals attract residents and visitors locally, nationally and internationally. Orillia’s Opera House is also a local landmark where you can enjoy live musical and theatrical performances. The Leacock Museum is a National Historical Site/Landmark which adorns several early 1900’s manuscripts and memorabilia of the region and where many Canadian writers gather during a summer festival. Come experience a range of rich, local heritage.
Bradford was originally named after Bradford, England. The original settlers came from Ireland and Scotland between 1790-1807 and the town was soon established as the largest settlement in Simcoe County. The town is extremely proud of its history and agricultural success. Bradford has experienced steady growth over the years creating a diverse, agricultural based community. Bradford has that small-town feel and yet it’s only about a thirty minute drive to either Toronto or Barrie. Go Transit services help commuters make their way to the city. In the summer, you can see the dark, rich farmland when you’re driving along Highway 400. Breathe in the fresh aroma of the produce being grown, especially green onions! So, it’s not surprising that Bradford is well-known for its annual Carrot Fest! This summer’s street festival features approximately 300 vendors, live music, artisans and amusement rides. Other fun community events include Music in the Park, Family First Night, outdoor movie nights, Community Clean-up Day, Hockey Day and Canada Day celebrations.
The town of Wasaga Beach is yet another growing and thriving town in Simcoe County. Famous for being the longest fresh water beach in the world, Wasaga Beach has for decades been a major provincial and national tourist destination. Singles, couples and families gather along the beach to play in the mostly shallow shoreline where you could walk out and enjoy the ocean-like waters. From the shores, you can watch children playing, young people throwing frisbees or off in the distance beyond the swimmers, water skiers enjoy wide-open waterscape. From picnickers, sunbathers or, water enthusiasts, people soak up the warmth of the sun and stay to absorb the romantic serenity of the glorious sun setting on the bay. This town offers transportation services to and from recreational facilities for all ages. Keep in mind that Wasaga Beach is not only a summer destination, but also offers close proximity to over 30 kilometers of groomed ski trails. Whether you are an avid skier or just starting out, there are a variety of trails available for every skill level. Cross-country skiers or hikers may be lucky enough to spot winter wildlife, from graceful white tailed deer to feathered winter friends. Either way, you won’t be disappointed! Find Wasaga Beach by following Highway 26 on your way toward the communities of Stayner and Collingwood.
The town of Midland is rich with historical significance. The Huron/Ouendat First Nations, prior to European contact, originally inhabited the Midland area of Simcoe County in the 1600’s. This particular group of First Nations were considered the most advanced in North America. During the 1800’s, the British established Midland as a farming community and by the 1870’s the Midland Railway Corporation of Port Hope established Midland as their western port and terminus. Midland quickly emerged as a commercial shipyard and passenger service town and continues to be a tourist destination with its beautifully picturesque surroundings at the southwest region of Georgian Bay. Take a dinner cruise on the Miss Midland cruise line, explore the quaint shops along King Street and perhaps choose to settle in a quiet, peaceful neighbourhood. Midland offers convenient amenities for its residents and hotel accommodations for visitors and tourists. Midland is approximately a 40 minute drive from Barrie taking you through several beautiful little villages along the way.
Collingwood is nestled at the foot of the majestic site of Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountain Resort draws vacationers from across the country and is a preferred vacation destination welcoming singles, couples and families. Collingwood has exceptional condo-style living, various unique shops and restaurant venues to choose from. Known for its amazing skiing, Collingwood also offers winter and summer recreational activities including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding as well as swimming, hiking and biking along the Georgian Trail which connects to the Bruce Trail. During the summer months Collingwood is host to the largest Elvis Festival in Canada. “Elvis has entered the building” at several local venues. Sing, dance, eat, shop, enjoy!
Simcoe County is home to many elementary and secondary schools throughout the entire region. Offered through the Simcoe County District School Board, Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, The Conseil Scolaire Viamonde and The Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud. The region also offers post-secondary through Georgian College in Barrie, Midland, Orillia and Collingwood. Lakehead University also offers a campus in Orillia.
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