Lake Simcoe, the fourth-largest freshwater lake in Southern Ontario, Canada, after Lake Nipigon, Seul, and Nipissing, has the reputation of getting very clean and warmer waters.
It is located between Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario, 65 km north of Toronto and part of the Trent-Severn Waterway. The clear freshwaters during the hotter months and the frozen spectacle that Simcoe offers make it one among the foremost frequented places within the region.
Lake Simcoe has several recreational activities to offer, and during this article, we will list some of them, but first, let’s have a glimpse at the history of this great lake.
During 17th century Europe, Lake Simcoe was regularly frequented by the Huron natives of the region. The Hurons were Iroquoian-speaking native tribes of North America and named the lake “Ouentironk,” meaning “Beautiful Waters.” Over the years, it was named Lac Taronto or Toronto, which suggests “gateway or pass.”
Taronto had originally cited The Narrows, a water channel Simcoe discharges into Lake Couchiching.
The name ‘Toronto’ found its way thanks to the current city, through its use in the name for the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail (or Toronto Passage), a portage running between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay passing through Lake Toronto, which in turn was used as the name for an early French fort located at the foot of the Toronto Passage on Lake Ontario.
Later, French traders mentioned the lake as Lac aux Claies, meaning “Lake of Grids (or Trellises)” concerning the Huron fishing weirs within the lake. It was known by this name until the beginnings of Upper Canada when it had been renamed Lake Simcoe in memory of Captain John Simcoe, an officer in the Royal Navy.
Lake Simcoe’s Emergence
Lake Simcoe was once a part of the larger prehistoric lake called the Lake Algonquin. Still, the ice dam that fed the lake melted due to climate change and disturbances in nature, leading to a discount within water level, and therefore, Lake Simcoe’s remnant emerged.
The lake has a shape similar to a fist with the index finger and thumb extended outwards. The thumb forms Kempenfelt Bay on the West, the wrist forms Lake Couchiching to the North and the extended finger is Cook’s Bay on the South.
Simcoe County, Durham Region, and York Region form the lake’s periphery. The city of Barrie is found on Kempenfelt Bay, and Orillia is located at the doorway to Lake Couchiching.
The town of Georgina lies along the complete south shore of Lake Simcoe. It consists of smaller residential cities and communities, connecting Keswick on Cook’s Bay, Sutton, Jackson’s Point, Pefferlaw, and Udora.
The town of Innisfil occupies the western shore south of Barrie and North of Bradford. Eastside Simcoe includes the towns of Beaverton, Brechin, and Lagoon City.
It has a geographic area of 2,840 km sq. with a length of 30 km and a width of 25km, having an average depth of 41km. The shores endure a length of 240km with an extent of 219m.
The lake watershed is a precious source of freshwater especially drinking water. It’s also a center for tourism and recreation — generating over $200 million annually for the local economy, industry, and agriculture.
The Southern Ontario rivers flow northwards into the lake, draining 2,581 lands. In the East, the Talbot River, a part of the Trent–Severn Waterway, is the most vital in Simcoe, connecting the lake with the Kawartha lakes system and Lake Ontario.
From its connection to Lake Couchiching, the Severn River is the only drainage from the watershed to Georgian Bay and a part of Lake Huron (Simcoe itself is not amongst the Great Lakes).
Lake watershed establishes an important ecological balance in the region, including Georgian Bay, preserving flora and fauna.
Lake Simcoe and its Islands
The lake is surrounded by Simcoe County, Durham Region, and York Region, containing Georgina, Thorah, Strawberry, Snake, Fox Helmers, and Grape Island.
Before the Trent Severn Waterway was built, the water level on Lake Simcoe was low, which enabled residents to cross across in wagons or walk-in ankle-deep water towards the mainland.
Once completed, the groundwater level increased by several feet, and residents could no more cross to opposite lakeshore through Lake Simcoe’s beautiful water.
Grape Island on the north end is found off, of Orillia while to the East lies Grape Island and Goffatt Island, which are privately owned within Ramara.
Georgina, Snake, and the Fox Islands lie in the York Region, Thorah within Durham, whereas Strawberry and Helmers are privately owned within the boundaries of Ramara in Simcoe County.
Lake Simcoe incorporates a spectacular view together with limited commercial but ample recreational uses for leisure getaways, fun time with family, or a nature’s paradise for our very own neighborhood naturalists!
Five things to do at Lake Simcoe
Now, let’s go through the top five things that would help us have a fabulous time at Lake Simcoe.
Ice-Fishing: The Icing on Cake
Fishing is the favorite activity in the region both during the warmer and wintry months, but ice-fishing is the icing on the cake! Lake Simcoe is the home to some of the biggest and most famous Canadian Yellow Perch and houses other fish species. It has dedicated areas for fishing that are very famous, but Gilford, Keswick, and Virginia Beach are targeted heavy fishing areas.
The ideal time for ice-fishing within the beautiful waters is from early December to late March or early April, which is the best time to catch perch, lake trout, pike, and whitefish. Crappie and burbot are the other two species that are immensely caught during the first and last ice, i.e., half of early December and half of late March.
Lake Simcoe is the most intensely fished lake in Ontario, making the Lake Simcoe region the “ice fishing capital” of Canada. The lake boasts about Ice-fishing competitions every year when the lake freezes completely.
The tourists catch trout, whitefish, muskellunge through the ice and the person who catches the most wins!
Jet Skiing at Lake Simcoe
Come summers, and it’s the season to Jet-Skii!
Jet skiing is the most loved water sport in summers at Lake Simcoe. It is the best activity to travel for a summer retreat at the lake with friends and family.
Various boat rental agencies provide several rental packages for skiboard and surfboards.
Regattas: The Yacht Races
An active sailing community has existed on Lake Simcoe for years, where it owns several yacht sailing clubs. The clubs offer membership facilities monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. Dinghies, keelboats, and various other boats and yachts can be rented out per hour or day for sailing.
This sailing community hosts regattas and weekly yacht racing competitions where the community members are novices or experienced sailors, win trophies, and earn fame. The racing season starts in early May and lasts till September end.
The clubs host racing competitions on different days of the week.
Monday nights are reserved for “dinghy racing” for novice and experienced racers.
The club and crew members head out together for fun-filled evenings. They engage in friendly competitions in white sailboats and spinnaker races, racing the entire length and breadth of the lake. Keelboat races take place on Wednesday nights during the racing season.
Weekends are when regattas take place. Members head out for racing competitions and pay tribute to the rich history of Lake Simcoe. The main attractions of the regattas are the women who raise funds for the local charity in and around Simcoe Country.
The members enjoy a full range of seasonal and fun-filled activities along with the sailing camaraderie, which is launched in mid-May and concluded with annual dinners in mid-October.
Explore the nature
Lake Simcoe proves to be the best fit for our dear environmentalists and naturalists. Nature lovers can have a long and relaxing walk on the shores of the lake, forgetting themselves in the alluring and mystic nature. The forests around the lake give a chance to our dear naturalists to dive deep into the depths of nature, exploring different lives that breed there.
Not only recreation, one can visit the lake for educational trips as well. Botanists, zoologists, and wildlife biologists have the perfect place for their practical study and discovery of the region’s plants, animals, and insects.
Be it summers or winters, Lake Simcoe is the best place to visit throughout the year, with several parks providing a plethora of recreational and educational activities to indulge in and make the best times.
So, if you want to spend a weekend with family and kids on the land or win accolades in the ice-fishing and regatta competitions, then Lake Simcoe is the best place to visit!
The entire region can be explored by bikes, so it’s a plus point for you if you are keen on cycling.
Beaches at Lake Simcoe
Nothing beats the happiness and satisfaction one gets from stretching out on sand the whole day, exploring beaches, sunbathing, and soaking in nature and the lake’s shoreline stretches far and wide, harboring plenty of beaches giving us a plethora of beach options to settle on and explore.
We list here several beaches near Lake Simcoe which are preferred and frequently visited by the locals and tourists, especially during summer.
De La Salle Park Beach
De La Salle lays alongside the fresh, sparkling waters of the lake, being pretty much frequented by families. It provides ample recreational facilities like soccer-volleyball fields, picnic tables, and playgrounds for the cute tiny tots.
With a relaxing and fresh, natural ambiance, De La Salle is the best place to spend quality time with one’s elders, spouses, or our very own little tiny tots.
Hidden away in quiet waters to the North of Kempenfelt Bay, Johnson Beach is the perfect spot if you wish to spend a peaceful and relaxing day, away from the hustle-bustle of daily life.
The beach provides a scenic and picturesque view of the natural landmarks and a promising view of lake waters crashing in on the town shoreline.
Centennial Park and Beach
One of the favorite sandy beaches filled with fun, laughter, giggles, and outdoor activities is the Centennial Park and Beach. It is the perfect choice for those jam-packed beach days where you can get to see children loitering around, teens looking forward to their chance to play beach volleyball, and couples sunbathing in the warm sun.
Willow Beach is a small beach that is an excellent place for swimming. The beach offers drinking water, picnic tables, the best time for visiting being May to August. It also has hiking trails for hikers to enjoy days of endless hiking.
Did you know the Lake Simcoe Watershed, a part of the Atlantic Ocean watershed, travels first from the lake itself and then into Lake Couchiching and then again into Lake Huron? It’s a long watershed seaway system.
Well, that’s all we have for you on Lake Simcoe. I hope you had a great time reading this article and knowing about one of Ontario’s famous lakes, Lake Simcoe.
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