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    Community Profile: Barrie

    Situated on the beautiful shores of Lake Simcoe, the City of Barrie is a welcoming central Ontario city that offers comfortable urban living at the gateway to the serene wilderness of Georgian Bay and Northern Ontario.

    This growing city has a strong sense of community and a great deal to offer its residents. Outlined here are only a few of the many factors that make Barrie a fun and exciting place to live.

    History of Barrie

    Prior to British settlement in the region, the Barrie region was an important transit hub for the First Nations and coureur des bois, who were trappers from New France. It was a portage between the Nottawasaga River and Kempenfelt Bay on Lake Simcoe, which was a convenient step on the canoe route between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron. This same route was used by the British during the War of 1812 to move military assets to the upper Great Lakes.  Today, many of these same waterways are used by cottagers for canoeing and kayaking for leisure. 

    Barrie was first settled in 1832 and named in honour of Sir Robert Barrie, Commodore of the British Great Lakes Fleet. 

    By 1837, there were twenty-eight families living in the area. In 1843, Simcoe became its own district with Barrie as the District Town. The prestige of being the District Town brought government funding to construct a jail and courthouse, bringing further growth.

    In 1846, there were 500 people living in the town. At this point Barrie was a bustling town, significantly more developed than much of the surrounding region. A steamship, named the Beaver, which connected Barrie to the other communities on the shores of Lake Simcoe, was based in the town. Within the town there were three churches, a district school, a mechanics’ institute, and a cricket club, as well as many professionals and tradespeople operating and doing business.

    An image showing the train station in Old Barrie
    The Grand Trunk railway in early Barrie.

    Barrie was first connected to a rail system in the 1850s, when the Northern Railway of Canada crossed over the Oak Ridges Moraine and through Machell’s Corners (now Aurora) to the edge of Kempenfelt Bay. After that point the city grew to be the largest community on Lake Simcoe.

    At the outbreak of the First World War, many young men volunteered to serve in the Simcoe Foresters and were sent overseas in 1915. But the long transportation of the troops to Niagara was found to be less than ideal. In response to this, the Canadian Expeditionary Force saw Barrie as an excellent site to establish a training base for personnel. The site, just south of the city, was known as “Sandy Plains” and was developed into a training ground for battalions bound for overseas duties. In the summer of 1916, Sir Samuel Hughes, the Minister of Militia and Defense, opened the base, naming it Camp Borden in honour of Sir Fredrick Borden. CFB Borden has remained a part of the society of Barrie ever since. 

    In the 20th century Barrie’s population grew as it increasingly became a sleeper community for the GTA. The city is the gateway to Lake Huron, the Bruce Peninsula, and Northern Ontario, with The Greater Toronto Area only an hour’s drive to the south. Just as it was in its earliest history, Barrie is still situated on the threshold between the woodland and lakeside playgrounds of Ontario’s cottage country and the economic heart of Toronto. These factors, among others, make Barrie an ideal place for a family to live.  

    Overview

    Barrie is situated 100 kilometers north of Toronto. With a population of 197,000, it is a vibrant city that offers its residents unparalleled access to both the Ontario wilderness along with the GTA.

    Barrie radiates out from the shore of Kempenfelt Bay. The historical town centre is located on the edge of the bay. Away from the water, quiet and modern suburban neighbourhoods are situated not far from Highway 400, which connects Barrie to Toronto.

    The City of Barrie has a growing population, which is also diverse. It is home to large Black, South Asian, Chinese, Filipino, and Latin American communities. 

    Real Estate in Barrie

    The main road in Barrie is Highway 400, which is the primary road connection between Barrie and the GTA. If you are thinking of commuting from Barrie to Toronto, then you want to live in close proximity to the Highway. Luckily for commuters, the majority of the neighbourhoods are built within a 15 minute drive of the 400.

    The type of dwelling that is most abundantly available on the Barrie market is the single detached home. The majority of these homes have three or more bedrooms. Since 2000, 16,320 homes have been built in Barrie.

    Our representatives will be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have about purchasing real estate in Barrie, so feel free to contact us.

    Shopping in Barrie

    Shoppers in Barrie have no shortage of choices when it comes to where to shop. There are a wide array of shopping settings from indoor or outdoor malls to flea markets and boutique shops. 

    Just off of the lake front, Downtown Barrie is full of merchants providing a diverse variety of goods and services. Centred on Dunlop and Bayfield Streets, Downtown Barrie is the perfect place to find something unique or vintage, while strolling in a charming setting.

    On the south side of the city, where Mapleview Drive meets Highway 400, there are many big box stores. Hundreds of retailers can be found in three large outdoor shopping centres here. The shopping centres are called Park Place, the Summit Centre, and SmartCentre South.

    In the north of the city, at Bayfield Street and Livingstone Street, there are even more outdoor shopping centres. These include the Kozlov Centre, the Springwater Marketplace, and SmartCentre North. Additionally, this is the location of the Georgian Mall, an indoor shopping centre. The Georgian Mall is the largest shopping centre in Heronia, and it is home to more than 150 retailers.

    At Highway 400 and Innisfil Beach Road, 10 minutes south of Barrie, there is the 400 Market. This is a flea market that is open on Saturdays and Sundays. Home to 500 vendors that sell unique new and used items, it draws thousands of shoppers every weekend. It is also home to a 30,000 square foot antique mall that is open seven days a week.   

    Slightly further south, at Highway 400 and County Road 89, are the Tanger Outlets. This outlet mall features over 100 retailers selling name brand items at a reduced price. Shoppers looking for a deal would do well to not miss this shopping venue.

    Recreation

    Residents of Barrie do not have to search far to find a fun way to spend their time. In the Barrie area there are many options for recreation seekers.

    The city runs many different facilities for public use, including several recreation centres. The three main recreation centres are: Holly Community Centre, the East Bayfield Centre, and the Allendale Community Centre. Each of these centres features a swimming pool, skating rinks, fitness centres, and meeting rooms.

    As for outdoor spaces, the City of Barrie maintains many gorgeous parks. The city has more than 300 hectares of city parks for residents to enjoy. These parks are chocked full of features that augment their appeal from simple green spaces to the realm of recreation facilities. Throughout the city there are parks that feature amenities like community gardens, dog off leash recreation areas, and splash pads.

     Along the shore of Kempenfelt Bay, the city maintains a series of beautiful parks and beaches. Many of these beaches are linked together by a couple of trails, the Waterfront Heritage Trail and North Shore Trail. Along this 9 km route, the trails pass through Military Heritage Park, Allendale Beach Park, Centennial Beach, the Barrie Marina, onto Johnson’s Beach. The route also passes by one of the most iconic structures in Barrie: The Spirit Catcher, a twenty ton, 25 meter tall steel sculpture that was installed in 1987. Lake Simcoe also offers many other opportunities for recreation such as fishing (in both the winter and the summer) and boating

    If you are looking for an insight to the local history of Barrie, there are several museums dedicated to various subjects from the past. Among them, the Simcoe County Museum, located slightly out of town on Ontario Highway 26, covers the history of Simcoe County from the prehistory of the region to modern times. Not far from the waterfront, on Mulcaster Street, the Grey and Simcoe Foresters Museum is dedicated to the history of the military unit from its pre-World War One inception to its modern instantiation.

    If you are looking for an exciting time watching horse races, Georgian Downs, located south of Barrie on Highway 400, is the perfect spot. The Georgian Downs is a venue to watch and bet on live Standardbred racing. Admission and parking at the Downs is always free. Located at the same site, Gateway Casinos Innisfil features table games such as Black jack, Roulette, Spanish 21, and Baccarat, along with virtual slot games.

    Schools

    Barrie is serviced by four school boards, two English and two French. Together these boards operate a total of 51 schools in the city. 

    The two English language boards are made up of a total of 47 schools. The Simcoe County District School Board runs 25 public schools and 4 secondary schools throughout Barrie. The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board consists of 14 public schools and 4 secondary schools.

    Barrie also has four French immersion schools. Like the English boards, the French boards are divided between a Catholic and secular board. The Conseil Scolaire Viamonde administers two schools in the city, one primary and one secondary. French Catholic schools are administered by the Conseil Scolaire Catholic Mon Avenir, which oversees one primary and one secondary school in Barrie.

    Transportation

    Despite its situation outside of the GTA, transportation is not a problematic issue for the residents of Barrie. The city offers its residents a plethora of transit choices, which allow them to get around the city and to adjacent regions very easily. Additionally, Barrie is highly connected to the GTA. Major road and rail links with Toronto make the commute into the Provincial Capital simple and quick. 

    Navigating Barrie by car is extremely convenient. However, Barrie Transit and GO transit provide alternatives for people who prefer to spend less time behind the wheel.

    Road Travel

    Barrie is bisected by Highway 400, which is the most important road in the city. The Highway is the second longest in Ontario after the 401. It provides Barrie with a direct link with the GTA in the south. In the north, the 400 connects Barrie with cottage country in Muskoka and on the Georgian Bay, and continues on through Parry Sound, North Bay, Sudbury, and on to Northern Ontario.

    Many residents in Barrie were attracted to the town for the spacious homes and small city atmosphere, along with the convenience of the commute into Toronto. Highway 400 provides the main link between the two cities. It connects to the 401 and the 407 toll Highway in the south. Naturally, the many commuters use the Highway to drive south to Toronto. Most of these commuters drive their own car to work between 7:00-8:00 AM.

    Another important road in the city is Ontario Highway 26. Within Barrie the road is known as Bayfield Street. It passes out of the city connecting it with Wasaga Beach, Collingwood, The Blue Mountains, Owen Sound, and the Bruce Peninsula

    While driving in Barrie is easy and convenient, it is not required to get around. Public transit is also highly developed. The Barrie transit system makes traveling around the city by bus very easy. The system is also connected to other transit systems, making travel around the Simcoe Region and into the GTA straightforward and inexpensive.

    Barrie Transit

    Barrie Transit offers bus service on ten routes that cover the city. The public buses are all routed through four main transit hubs: the Downtown Terminal, the Allendale GO Station, Park Place, and the Barrie South GO Station. The Downtown Terminal also is the departure point for interurban buses operated by Ontario Northland and Greyhound.

    Simcoe County LINX

    The Simcoe County LINX is a regional transit system that carries passengers all across the Simcoe Region. It consists of five routes, which connect Barrie to Penetanguishene, Midland, Wasaga Beach, Orillia, Collingwood, New Tecumseth, and Bradford West Gwillimbury.     

    GO Transit

    Two of the important transit hubs in the city, Allendale GO Station and the Barrie GO Station, are connections to the GO rail system. The GO rail connection was established to the Barrie South Station in 2007 and expanded to the Allendale Station in 2012. These lines carry commuters to the south into the GTA. The terminal station of the line in the south is Toronto’s Union Station. From Union Station riders can make connections to the TTC, VIA rail, and the UP express. GO Transit also runs several bus lines in Barrie, which connects the city with different parts of Simcoe Region and the GTA. GO train service in Barrie and its integration with Barrie Transit, means that residents of the city can take an uncomplicated commute into Toronto without having to ever drive a car.

    Have Questions About Barrie Real Estate? Thinking of buying or selling?

    If you have questions about buying or selling property in Barrie or anywhere in the GTA, contact Frank Leo and Associates.

    We are equipped with over 30 years of experience dealing in GTA real estate and we will be happy to share our knowledge with you.