Located in the heart of Southern Ontario, Simcoe County is a beautiful place stretching over the shores of Lake Simcoe in the east to Georgian Bay in the west. It is a densely populated and well-industrialized region that forms part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Simcoe County is the largest county in Ontario, covering a land area of 4859.64 square kilometers approx. The county has been informally split into two sub-regions, the “South Simcoe” and the “North Simcoe.” The dividing line between these two sub-regions in the Simcoe County Road 90 and Highway 26 in Midhurst, which is the Administrative Centre of the county.
The Northern part of Simcoe County is also known as Huronia, as it was the Hurons’ home during the seventeenth century. Located to its immediate north is the Muskoka area, which has a close socio-economic association with the northern part of the county. The area is also less industrial if compared to South Simcoe.
The townships under North Simcoe includes the Township of Clearview, the Township of Severn, the Township of Oro-Medonte, the Township of Springwater, the Township of Ramara, the Township of Tiny and the Township of Tay, the Town of Penetanguishene, the Town of Midland, The Town of Collingwood, and the Town of Wasaga Beach.
The South Simcoe is also a region within the Toronto commuter-belt and a relatively higher population. The region is home to five municipalities, including the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, the Town of Innisfil, the Town of New Tecumseth, the Township of Adjala-Tosorontio, and he Township of Essa.
History of the Simcoe County
The Wendake area near the Nottawasaga Bay of the Simcoe County was the earliest French exploration and Ontario’s settlement, the first Europeans in the area. Many historical sites like the Sainte-Marie among the Hurons and Carhagouha marks the earliest known contact between the Hurons and the French missionaries.
About 350 years back, the region was once inhabited by the Huron Wendat nations. In the beginning, the county was only used for military purposes. In 1823, the county became a separate constituency for elections to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada.
But as the eligibility to vote only depended upon having title to the property and the first registrar of deeds was not decided by then, no one was sent to the Assembly as a separate member until the election of John Cawthra in 1828.
The Legislature of Upper Canada passed between 1837 and 1841, several acts authorizing taxes to construct jail and courthouse. In 1851, the Simcoe District was abolished, and the Simcoe County was used for municipal purposes. Between 1845 to 1851, a campaign was made to have West Gwillimbury south of the Holland River annexed to York County.
This county went through a lot of changes in the passing years. The portions of the district that was not a part of Simcoe County were included in 1877. They lasted till 1888 until they got separated again.
Mono and Mulmur Townships were withdrawn from Simcoe County in 1881 and got transferred to Dufferin County. Mara and Rama’s Townships were transferred to Simcoe County because of the dissolution of Ontario County in 1974. Finally, in the year 1994, the county was restructured into 16 local municipalities.
Location and Stay in the Simcoe County
Simcoe County has every type of accommodation that would make the visitors comfortable. There are cottages, cabins, cottages, inns, hotels, and hostels, including resorts offering many amenities like children’s programs and many more.
Many private, municipal, and provincial campgrounds are also available throughout the region to prefer staying outdoors. Thus staying in Simcoe County is never a problem for tourists and visitors. Situated just to the north of the Greater Toronto Area, it is always easy to get to the Simcoe region. One staying in the US can easily reach the area by availing a bus, train, or car.
Apart from Simcoe County, the Muskoka region is also known for its epic beauty. The place is known for its stunning scenery and has over 1600 lakes that make it a famous tourism destination. The Muskoka district is also a favorite spot for celebrities like Steven Spielberg, Nancy Dolman, Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Martin Short, and other well-known personalities.
Parry Sound, the Muskoka district’s subregion in the northern part of Simcoe County, is also a beautiful place tourists visit. Hugging the Georgian shores, Perry Sound is a perfect place for enjoying hiking, sports, and other outdoor adventures. The place also has other attractions like Blue Flag designated by beaches, performing art centers, museums, galleries, and many more.
Things to Do and See in the Simcoe County
The county is famous for various recreational purposes like boating, skiing, pedaling, swimming, and many more. The area is famous for its various water bodies, including the largest freshwater beach in the world. People around the world come here to witness the beauty of the county. Here are a few places one can visit and things one can do while planning for the stay in the region:
1. Festivals and Events people enjoy
A lot of festivals and events are celebrated in the Simcoe region of Ontario. Here are the top 4 festivals the people enjoy that.
1. Alliston Potato Festival
The Alliston Potato Festival, an annual festival, takes place every year in South Simcoe. It is one of the grandest celebrations in the region, continuing for three days.
The festival begins with the parade at 7 pm sharp on the Friday of Potato Fest weekend, starting from the Banting Memorial High School down Victoria street, following various other events and attractions. The festival is enjoyed by over thirty thousand people every year.
2. Barrie Dragon Boat Festival
The Barrie Dragon Boat Festival is the largest waterfront festival of the Barrie region, held every year in Barrie’s beautiful Heritage Park, followed by races in the Kempenfelt Bay.
The race takes about two-and-a-half minutes to complete, where four teams compete simultaneously. Each boat has twenty paddlers, a drummer, and a steersperson at the back who tries to beat the other teams in the race.
3. Barrie Fishing Festival
The Barrie Fall Fishing Festival taking place every year is a live catch and perch fishing tournament on the Kempenfelt Bay. The festival has no age restrictions, and people of any age can take part in it. The Rotary Club of Barrie presents this festival.
4. Winter Fest and the Festival of Ice
The Barrie Winter fest is one of the top festivals and events in Ontario. It is an Annual winter celebration held in February with events taking place at Heritage Park, Meridian Park, and other downtown locations.
2. Museums and Art Galleries
Simcoe County has various museums and art galleries that showcase its history and culture from the ancient past.
1. Simcoe County Museum
Located at 1151 Highway 26 Minesing, Ontario is the Simcoe County Museum provides an opportunity for visitors to experience the history of the place.
The museum has 5 galleries, climate-controlled facilities, 16 heritage and display buildings, plus many more. People worldwide visit the place to witness the culture and heritage of the ancient past of the region.
2. Huronia Museum
The Huronia Museum, in Midland, Ontario, comprises the museum building, which has both the music collection and art gallery; and the Huron village. The museum is open throughout the year and receives over 20000 visitors each year. The museum also provides educational programs for the young and adults.
3. Penetanguishene Centennial Museum & Archives
The museum offers a beautiful setting for gathering music and tales related to the places’ heritage on the Penetanguishene Bay shores. Exciting exhibitions are also conducted here regularly.
4. MacLaren Art Centre
The MacLaren Art Centre is located in the Barrie region of Ontario. It is an art gallery, named in honor of Maurice MacLaren, who handed down his Victorian home, Maple Hill, to the Barrie Gallery Project in 1989.
It has a permanent collection of 27,408 works of art and conducts several art exhibitions, educational programs, and special events and activities throughout the year.
5. Orillia Museum of Art and History
Situated in the heart of Orillia’s historic downtown, the Orillia Museum of Art and History showcases Orillia and Lake Country’s history and culture through various regional and nationally significant exhibitions.
The OMAH has been inspiring creativity and celebrating history for over twenty years. It is a growing hub for local artists and historians.
3. Parks and Picnic Spots
Simcoe County is diverse geographically and is often used for recreational purposes. Here are some parks and picnic spots that are also great for spending quality time with the family.
1. Wye Marsh
Wye Marsh is an eco-park that offers various outdoor and learning programs around the year. The Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre is on the 3000 acres of Provincially significant wetlands and woodlands in Tay that encourages its visitors of all ages to discover various raptors and reptiles, explore hiking, cross-country ski, experience canoeing, and many more.
2. Tyndale Park
Located near the southern shores of the Kempenfelt Bay, Tyndale Park is a 15-acre land offering grassy open fields, tall trees, and an incredible view of Barrie’s waterfront. There are several playgrounds and picnic areas where children can play and enjoy food. The place is uniquely beautiful and great for watching the boats and paddle boaters in Lake Simcoe’s waters.
3. Awenda Provincial Park
The Awenda Provincial Park is located on Georgian Bay’s shores on the Penetanguishene Peninsula’s northern tip. It is an area of over 2900 hectares of land filled with majestic rocks and maple trees with hiking and skiing areas. The park includes 6 public campgrounds with approximately 330 sites available as camping sites. It is an all protected land and is classified as a Natural Environment Park.
4. Innisfil Beach Park
Located in the Innisfil Beach Road, Alcona, the Innisfil Beach Park is a 62-acre park featuring three soccer fields, two baseball diamonds, walking trial, shoreline swimming, food services, public boat launch, and accessible playground facilities. The park also offers access to Lake Simcoe for swimming, fishing, boating, and many more.
5. J.B. Tudhope Memorial Park
The J.B Tudhope Park, near Lake Couchiching in Orillia, is an active park for baseball and slow-pitch. The 65-acre land is the home to the Mariposa Folk Festivals and famous for its Moose Beach swimming area. The park is like heaven to its visitors with all its playgrounds, beach volleyball courts, hiking trails, fountains, and many more.
6. Bear-Creek Eco Park
The Bear Creek Eco Park lightly trafficked a 1.3-kilometer area near Barrie in Ontario, provides acres of marsh-like wilderness to explore. It is home to countless plants, reptiles, bugs, and birds. It is a beautiful area used for nature trips. Walk along the park’s boardwalk to enjoy its scenic beauty and forget to bring your camera.
4. Camping, Paddling, and Other Outdoor Adventures.
Simcoe County owns and manages over 150 different forest tracts available for public redactional purposes. There are also many parks, playgrounds, and camping grounds in the region that allow biking, hiking, skiing, or even picnic spots. Some of these are,
The town of Collingwood lies approximately 50 kilometers northwest of Barrie. The place is known for its outdoor sports and adventures.
The Collingwood sits beneath the towering Blue Mountains, the part of the Niagara Escarpment: an area recognized by UNESCO for its beauty. The place is famous for picnic and hiking and offers some of the best nature trails. You can also enjoy skiing and snowboarding during winter.
Midland is one of the top tourist destinations in the Georgian Bay, located 40 km north of Barrie. The town is rich in cultural heritage and is home to several national and provincial parks.
Various snow-covered recreational trails can be found here during winter. People from various places come to enjoy these trails. The Sainte Marie among the Hurons is one of the notable sites of the area.
3. Wasaga beach
The Wasaga Beach is one of the world’s largest freshwater beach featuring a series of white sand beaches with different amenities stretching along the Georgian Bay shoreline. Wasaga Beach is just 35 kilometers away from Barrie and a wonderful place to enjoy with family and friends. The 14 kilometers Wasaga Beach allows paddling and boating facilities on its water. But safety is to be maintained while on the boat no matter whichever route you take.
4. Earl Rowe
The 8 kilometers long Earl Rowe trial is perfect for the people who are looking for a hike, walking, or just relaxing. The trial full of red pine trees creates a beautifully picturesque, featuring challenging steep hill sections and more breathtaking views over Alliston, Boyne river walk, and various other beaches inside the park.
5. Grant’s Woods Loop Trail
The Grant’s Woods Loop trial is a 4kilometers area providing a network of looped walking trails, connecting footbridge, and other interpretive stations. Pets are permitted in the area, and the trails are available for hiking, skiing, and snowboarding only. The trial remains open round the year.
6. Georgian Bay Islands National Park
It is the world’s largest freshwater archipelago and home to the boat access nature preserve. This area is filled with white pines and granite shores of the Canadian Shield, turning it into dense deciduous woodland. Adventures here are fun and easy. It has cycle wooded trails, waterfront cabins, and hiking facilities near the emerald shoreline.
Simcoe County is blessed with sprawling trails and beautiful lakes, and spectacular landscapes. This place is also famous for its rich heritage and culture. The region is also perfect for spending quality time with family and friends, especially during the holidays.
Simcoe County is famous for its beauty and is visited by many people throughout the year. Anyone having plans of visiting Canada must include Simcoe County in their list of go-to places and explore the beauty of the place.