kids encyclopedia robot

Barrie facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
City of Barrie
Downtown Barrie from Kempenfelt Bay
Downtown Barrie from Kempenfelt Bay
Flag of Barrie
Coat of arms of Barrie
Coat of arms
Official logo of Barrie
The People are the City
Country Canada
Province Ontario
County Simcoe (independent)
First settled End of War of 1812
Established 1837 (town)
Established 1853 (city)
Named for Sir Robert Barrie
 • City (single-tier) 99.04 km2 (38.24 sq mi)
 • Urban
171.53 km2 (66.23 sq mi)
 • Metro
898.02 km2 (346.73 sq mi)
252 m (827 ft)
 • City (single-tier) 141,434
 • Density 1,428.0/km2 (3,699/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density 918.27/km2 (2,378.3/sq mi)
 • Metro
 • Metro density 219.4/km2 (568/sq mi)
 • Ethnicity
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Postal code
Area code(s) 705 and 249
Highways  Highway 400
 Highway 26
 Highway 27
Highway 90

Barrie is a city in Central Ontario, Canada, on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay, the western arm of Lake Simcoe. Although located in Simcoe County, the city is politically independent. It is part of the Huronia region of Central Ontario. Barrie is within the northern part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, a densely populated and industrialized region of Ontario.

In 2011 census, the city's population was originally reported as 135,711, making it the 34th largest in Canada. The city's 2011 population was subsequently revised to 136,063. The Barrie census metropolitan area (CMA) had a population of 187,013 residents, making it the 21st largest CMA in Canada.


Barrie in relation to Southern Ontario
Barrie is situated in Central Ontario, Canada.

At its inception, Barrie was an establishment of houses and warehouses at the foot of the Nine Mile Portage from Kempenfelt Bay to Fort Willow, an aboriginal transportation route that existed centuries before Europeans came to Simcoe County. The portage linked Kempenfelt Bay through Willow Creek, connecting Lake Simcoe to the Nottawasaga River which flows into Georgian Bay off Lake Huron.

Barrie played an integral role in the War of 1812. During the War, the city became a supply depot for British forces, and in addition, the Nine Mile Portage was adopted by the British Military as a key piece of their supply line which provided a strategic path for communication, personnel, and vital supplies and equipment to and from Fort Willow and Georgian Bay / Lake Huron. Today, the Nine Mile Portage is marked by signs along roads in Barrie and in Springwater Township. You can follow the scenic path from Memorial Square all the way to Fort Willow.

The city was named in 1833 after Sir Robert Barrie, who was in charge of the naval forces in Canada and frequently commanded forces through the city and along the Nine Mile Portage.

Barrie was also the final destination for one branch of the Underground Railroad. In the mid-19th century, this network of secret routes allowed many American slaves to enter Barrie and the surrounding area. This contributed to the development (and name) of nearby Shanty Bay.

By 1869, Barrie was the county seat of Simcoe in the Township of Vespra with a population 3,000. It was a station of the Northern Railway. It was pleasantly situated on Kempenfelt Bay, Lake Simcoe. There were steamers to the Muskoka Territory Orillia & Stages to Penetanguishene.

During World War II, the Royal Canadian Navy named a Flower class corvette HMCS Barrie.

On 7 September 1977, a private aircraft dropped altitude to 500 feet (150 m) in dense fog, struck the 1,000-foot (300 m) CKVR-TV tower, killing all five on the plane and destroying the tower and antenna. The station's 225-foot (69 m) auxiliary tower was also destroyed and there was some damage to the main studio. CKVR were back on the air using a temporary 400-foot tower and reduced power of 40,000 watts at 8:55am on 19 September. The new 1,000-foot (300 m) tower was rebuilt in 1978.

On 31 May 1985, an F4 tornado struck Barrie. It was one of the most violent and deadliest tornadoes in Canadian history.

On 12–13 June 1987, a sculpture called Spirit Catcher by Ron Baird was moved to Barrie from Vancouver, British Columbia, where it had been exhibited as part of Expo '86. The sculpture was erected permanently at the foot of Maple Avenue on the shore of Kempenfelt Bay. However, with the re-development along the waterfront/Lakeshore Drive, the city is considering moving the Spirit Catcher to the gravel outcropping at the foot of Bayfield Street.

Barrie's Park Place (formerly Molson Park) was chosen to host Live 8 Canada on 2 July 2005. The success of the concert contributed to the resistance to a plan to convert the concert area to a commercial district. However, the stage, buildings and many of the trees on site have been destroyed since construction of the Park Place commercial district has begun.

An explosion in the Royal Thai restaurant, housed in the landmark Wellington Hotel, at the historic Five Points intersection in Barrie's downtown core occurred at 11:20 PM on 6 December 2007. The fire quickly spread to several neighbouring buildings. Firefighters battled the blaze well into the following morning, requiring assistance from other Simcoe County fire services. Officials estimate the damages to be in the millions. The Wellington Hotel building collapsed. It was over one hundred years old. On 17 February 2008, two people were charged in connection with the fire, after the Ontario Fire Marshal's office concluded the explosion and fire were the result of arson.


Barrie is located in the central portion of Southern Ontario, approximately 90 km (56 mi) north of Toronto within the Greater Golden Horseshoe subregion. It is accessible via Highways 26, 400, and 11.

Barrie's historic downtown area is situated in a distinct curved or wrapped valley, surrounding the western edge of Kempenfelt Bay (part of Lake Simcoe. Terrain is generally flat near the city's centre. Moving up the valley slopes toward the city's north and south ends, the terrain can be rather steep in some areas.

The city does not have any major rivers within its limits, but does have numerous creeks and streams, most of which empty into Kempenfelt Bay.


Barrie Condos and Houses in Winter
Residential condominiums and houses in Barrie after a snowfall
  • Letitia Heights
  • Cundles
  • Ardagh Bluffs
  • Eastview
  • Holly
  • Downtown
  • Painswick
  • Allandale
  • Kingswood


Barrie has been designated an Urban Growth Centre by the Province of Ontario (Places to Grow Simcoe Area, 2009). Its population growth, largely due to its emergence as a bedroom community for Toronto, has given rise to the development of numerous subdivisions on the southern side of the city. Barrie successfully annexed 2,293 acres (9.28 km2) of land from the neighbouring Town of Innisfil to the south and southeast on 1 January 2010. The annexation comprised lands south beyond McKay Road and west of the 10th Sideroad, and as far south as Lockhart Road on the east side of the 10th Sideroad. The annexation was intended to allow Barrie to meet its growing population demands without having to extend into the countryside on the northern, western, and eastern boundaries of the city's limits.


Like the rest of southern Ontario, Barrie has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb), with warm, humid summers and cold winters.

In late spring and summer months, the Barrie area is known for heavy thunderstorm activity, due to its location within a convergence of breezes originating from Georgian Bay, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

In the winter months, the proximity to the Great Lakes moderates winter temperatures but also results in significant snowfall in the general area. Barrie is on the southern edge of Ontario's snowbelt region, where lake-effect snow, primarily from Georgian Bay, falls throughout the winter. An average of 238 centimetres (95 inches) of snow falls annually, with at least 50% due to the lake effect. Since the snowfall gradient is tight, snowfall totals tend to be significantly higher just north of the city as compared with the south end.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Barrie was 38.9 °C (102 °F) on 5 July 1911. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −38.9 °C (−38 °F) on 8 January 1866.


Barrie experienced tornadoes during the Barrie tornado outbreak of 1985 and the June 16–18, 2014 tornado outbreak during which an EF2 tornado spawned and caused minimal damage to southern Barrie but affected the nearby town of Angus to a greater extent.


Historical populations
Year Pop. ±%
1841 500 —    
1871 3,398 +579.6%
1881 4,854 +42.8%
1891 5,550 +14.3%
1901 5,949 +7.2%
1911 6,420 +7.9%
1921 6,936 +8.0%
1931 7,776 +12.1%
1941 9,559 +22.9%
1951 12,514 +30.9%
1961 21,169 +69.2%
1971 27,676 +30.7%
1981 38,423 +38.8%
1991 62,728 +63.3%
1996 79,191 +26.2%
2001 103,710 +31.0%
2006 128,430 +23.8%
2011 136,063 +5.9%
Note: 2011 census population
corrected by Statistics Canada
Canada census – Barrie community profile
2011 2006
Population: 136,063 (5.9% from 2006) 128,430 (23.8% from 2001)
Land area: 77.39 km2 (29.88 sq mi) 76.99 km2 (29.73 sq mi)
Population density: 1,758.1/km2 (4,553/sq mi) 1,668.1/km2 (4,320/sq mi)
Median age: 37.2 (M: 36.0, F: 38.3) 35.4 (M: 34.5, F: 36.1)
Total private dwellings: 50,075 48,196
Median household income: $80,928 $64,832
References: 2011 2006 earlier

In the 2011 Census, Barrie originally had a population of 135,711 living in 49,943 of its 52,185 total dwellings, a 5.7% change from its 2006 population of 128,430. Statistics Canada subsequently amended the 2011 census results to a population of 136,063 living in 50,075 of its 52,329 total dwellings, a 5.9% change from 2006. With a land area of 77.39 km2 (29.88 sq mi), it had a population density of 1,758.1/km2 (4,553/sq mi) in 2011. Barrie's median age is 37.2 years compared with the national average of 40.6 years.

Comparatively, the Barrie CMA had a population of 187,013 living in 68,495 of its 72,817 total dwellings, a 5.6% change from its 2006 population of 177,061. With a land area of 897.83 km2 (346.65 sq mi), the CMA had a population density of 208.3/km2 (539/sq mi) in 2011.

According to the 2011 National Household Survey, 97% of Barrie residents were Canadian citizens while 3% were not. The median value of a dwelling in Barrie is $276,279, which is almost on par with the national average of $280,552.

Visible minority and Aboriginal population
(2011 National Household Survey)
Population group Population Per cent
White 116,540 87.5%
Visible minority group
South Asian 1,760 1.3%
Chinese 975 0.7%
Black 2,525 1.9%
Filipino 815 0.6%
Latin American 1,105 0.8%
Arab 325 0.2%
Southeast Asian 640 0.5%
West Asian 125 0.1%
Korean 535 0.4%
Japanese 280 0.2%
Visible minority, n.i.e. 515 0.4%
Multiple visible minority 490 0.4%
Total visible minority population 10,095 7.6%
Aboriginal group
First Nations 4,730 3.5%
Métis 2,010 1.5%
Inuit 30 0%
Total Aboriginal population 6,600 5%
Total population 133,240 100%

Religious affiliations, 2011

Religious Affiliation Total
Buddhist 595
Anglican 11,950
Baptist 3,760
Catholic 36,590
Christian Orthodox 1,235
Lutheran 1,460
Pentecostal 2,090
Presbyterian 5,140
United Church 12,315
Other Christian 13,830
Hindu 405
Jewish 660
Muslim 1,405
Sikh 140
Traditional (Aboriginal) Spirituality 35
Other religions 350
No religious affiliation 41,275

Arts and culture

Barrie Canada Day Fireworks
Fireworks over Kempenfelt Bay during Barrie's Canada Day celebrations

Barrie is home to vibrant performing and fine arts scenes. There are a number of live performance companies including Theatre by the Bay, Talk Is Free Theatre and the Huronia Symphony. Grove Park Home is the practice hall for On Stage Performance Group which performs in Cookstown. The Strolling Youth Players, and the Kempenfelt Community Players also all perform in Barrie. In addition, an annual live concert series is hosted by Georgian College.

There are two main performing arts venues in the city: the Mady Centre For The Performing Arts, and the Georgian Theatre. The Mady Centre For The Performing Arts is located in Barrie’s downtown at the Five Points intersection and was completed in 2011. This modern facility is home to many professional and amateur cultural productions, film screenings, theatrical plays, concerts, dance recitals and other performances. It is also the main venue for Theatre by the Bay and the Talk Is Free Theatre Companies. The venue features a flexible stage area with lighting and sound for professional theatre, music, dance, and other presentations, an automated riser/seating system with capacity for 120 to 200 seats and a sprung performance floor.

The Georgian Theatre is a professional performing arts facility located in Barrie’s north end on the campus of Georgian College. The theatre features a proscenium stage, sound, lights, fly gallery, and seating for 427 on the main level with 3 pods which can be used to increase the seating capacity to 690. The Theatre is used for both theatrical and non-theatrical activity including conferences and seminars.

Spiritcatcher barrie wide
Ron Baird's The Spirit Catcher (1986), installed along the waterfront in Barrie

The prominent MacLaren Art Centre is located in Barrie. This is an innovative art gallery that inspired the "Art City" project, which has had many different large sculptures installed around the city. These can be found in parks and along the scenic waterfront. The MacLaren Art Centre is a large and beautiful building on Mulcaster Street in downtown Barrie. International and Canadian artists display in the three main galleries. A permanent collection of art is growing, the Radio Cafe, a gift shop, film nights, speakers, theatre and many children's programs and community art projects are just a small part of the gallery's mandate. The gallery contributes overall to a vibrant arts community in the Barrie area with it leading edge arts. A bronze cast of Auguste Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker" is housed permanently on the front gardens of the gallery.

Barrie is also home to many independent galleries and studios. A concentration of independent galleries, studios and boutiques is located in Lakeshore Mews. This area is located behind the downtown's Dunlop Street, and provides a location where one-of-a-kind items can be purchased. Lakeshore Mews artists also organize the annual “Arts ce Soir”; an all-night contemporary art event in celebration of visual, musical, theatrical and literary art. In addition, a studio tour in the Barrie/Orillia area takes place on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend every year. It is called the Images Studio Tour and has over 25 artists on average. The self-guided tour allows people to visit artists in their working studio and see how the art is created while enjoying the beautiful fall colours driving through the two cities and the countryside. Potters, jewellers, painters, textile artists and fashion designers make up a few of the disciplines of the talents on display.

Barrie is also home to Kempenfest; one of the largest outdoor arts and crafts celebrations in Ontario. This festival occurs annually over the August long weekend and features over 300 artisans, an antique show, food demonstrations, children’s activities and live entertainment, including an indie-music stage.

Some of the main arts and culture groups in the city include:

  • Barrie Concert Band
  • Barrie Film Festival
  • Barrie Folk Society
  • Campus Gallery
  • Caribbean Culture Institute
  • Huronia Symphony Orchestra
  • Kempenfelt Community Players
  • King Edward Choir
  • Lyrica Chamber Choir
  • Simcoe Contemporary Dancers
  • Talk Is Free Theatre
  • Theatre By The Bay
  • Kiwanis


Barrie has numerous recreational venues and community centres throughout the city.

  • Allandale Recreation Centre
  • Barrie Community Sports Complex
  • Barrie Uptown Theater
  • Dorian Parker Centre
  • East Bayfield Community Centre
  • Eastview Arena
  • Holly Community Centre
  • Lampman Park
  • Lampman Lane Community Centre
  • Parkview Community Centre
  • Southshore Community Centre
  • Victoria Village
  • YMCA of Barrie

Images for kids

kids search engine
Barrie Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.