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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
Barrie is located in Southern Ontario
Location in Southern Ontario
Barrie is located in Simcoe County
Location in Simcoe County
Country Canada
Province Ontario
County Simcoe (independent)
First settled End of War of 1812
Established 1854 (village)
Established 1870 (town)
Established 1959 (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
Demonym(s) Barrian
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Forward Sortation Area
L4M to L4N, L9J, L9X
Area codes 705 and 249
Highways  Highway 400
 Highway 26
 Highway 27
Highway 90
GDP (Barrie CMA) CA$7.4 billion (2016)
GDP per capita (Barrie CMA) CA$37,735 (2016)

Barrie is a city in Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada, about 80 km (50 mi) north of Toronto. It is located on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay, the western arm of Lake Simcoe. It is a politically independent single-tier municipality within Simcoe County. Barrie is part of the extended urban area in southern Ontario known as the Greater Golden Horseshoe. As of the 2016 census, the city's population was 141,434, while the census metropolitan area centred on the city had a population of 197,059 residents.

Barrie is situated on the traditional land of the Wendat and Anishinaabe peoples. The area was first settled during the War of 1812 as a supply depot for British forces, and Barrie was named after Sir Robert Barrie. The city has grown significantly in recent decades due to its emergence as a High Tech Hub. It is connected to the Greater Golden Horseshoe by Ontario Highway 400 and GO Transit. Significant sectors of the city's diversified economy include education, healthcare, information technology and manufacturing.


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%
2016 141,434 +3.9%
Note: 2011 census population
corrected by Statistics Canada

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Barrie had a population of 147,829 living in 55,316 of its 57,276 total private dwellings, a change of 4.5% from its 2016 population of 141,434. With a land area of 99.01 km2 (38.23 sq mi), it had a population density of 1,493.1/km2 (3,867/sq mi) in 2021.

At the census metropolitan area (CMA) level in the 2021 census, the Barrie CMA had a population of 212,856 living in 78,540 of its 82,649 total private dwellings, a change of 8% from its 2016 population of 197,059. With a land area of 897.26 km2 (346.43 sq mi), it had a population density of 237.2/km2 (614/sq mi) in 2021.

Canada census – Barrie community profile
2016 2011
Population: 141,434 (3.9% from 2011) 136,063 (5.9% from 2006)
Land area: 99.04 km2 (38.24 sq mi) 77.39 km2 (29.88 sq mi)
Population density: 1,428.0/km2 (3,699/sq mi) 1,758.1/km2 (4,553/sq mi)
Median age: 38.5 (M: 36.9, F: 40.0) 37.2 (M: 36.0, F: 38.3)
Total private dwellings: 54,227 50,075
Median household income: $113,575 $80,928
References: 2016 2011 earlier


Barrie is approximately 84.2% white, 10.3% visible minorities and 5.5% aboriginal. The largest visible minority groups in the city are Black (2.7%), South Asian (2.2%), Chinese (1.2%) and Latin American (1.1%). The city's bilingualism is rather distinguished, with a fair francophone population of about 9,660 people (or 6.8% of the total population). This proportion is higher than the Ontario average of 2.4%. Some 92.2% of the population speak mostly English at home.

According to the 2011 National Household Survey, the residents of Barrie are predominantly Christian. Around 67% of the population claims adherence to Christian denominations, with a Catholic, United Church and Anglican majority, accounting for 41.2%, 14.2% and 13.7%, respectively, of the total separate Christian statistical figure. Those with no religious affiliation accounted for 31% of the population, and other religions such as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and other religions all constitute around one per cent of the population. Visible minorities in Barrie comprise 7.4%, compared to the Canadian average of 19.1%.

Religious affiliation

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
Islam 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


Barrie in relation to North America
Barrie in relation to other North American cities

The following are some of the city's major employers:

  • Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre
  • Georgian College and the associated University Partnership Centre and Centre for Health and Wellness
  • City of Barrie
  • County of Simcoe
  • Simcoe County District School Board
  • TD Canada Trust and TD Waterhouse Regional Centre
  • TD Canada Trust Technology and Operations Centre
  • Scotiabank Regional Centre
  • BMO Data Centre
  • IBM Canada Leadership Data Centre
  • The Source Distribution Centre
  • Coca-Cola Bottling Company
  • Canadian Mental Health Association - Simcoe
  • Hydro One Ontario Grid Control Centre

Notwithstanding these major employers, Barrie has increasingly been perceived as a bedroom community for people commuting to Toronto, which is approximately 90 km (56 mi) south of Barrie. Approximately 32% of the resident-employed labour force (17,040 persons/53,400 persons) commute out of Barrie for employment purposes; however, approximately 28% of the resident-employed labour force (14,880 persons/53,400 persons) commute into Barrie for employment for a net out-commuting figure of only 4.26% (17,040 persons –14,880 persons)/(50,665 persons employed in Barrie)). Source: 2001 Census and City of Barrie Economic Development.


Tourism plays an important role in the local economy. Barrie's historic downtown and waterfront are at the heart of its tourism industry. Downtown Barrie hosts many older buildings that have been kept up over the years or given new facades that exemplify their historical importance. Many speciality shops, boutiques, pubs and restaurants are located throughout downtown Barrie, most notably along Dunlop Street East. Downtown Barrie is becoming well known for its fashion boutiques, local art, live theatre, indie-music and nightlife scenes. In addition, downtown Barrie is home to numerous annual festivals and events such as The Barrie Waterfront Festival, Barrielicious, Winterfest, Celebrate Barrie, Ecofest, Jazz & Blues Festival, Promenade Days, Ribfest and Craft Beer Show, Caribfest, Lawnchair Luminata, Kempenfest, The New Music Festival, Barrie Film Festival, Santa Claus Parade and the New Year's Countdown.

In the summer months, the city boasts several beaches including Minet's Point Beach, Johnsons Beach, The Gables, Tyndale Beach, and Centennial Beach. Boating is also very popular in Kempenfelt Bay and Lake Simcoe as it connects to the Trent Severn Waterway. In 2011, Barrie's waterfront was under redevelopment, with the relocation of several roadways to provide more greenspace and parkland along the lakeshore. There are numerous winter recreation activities and facilities in the surrounding area, including skiing, snow tubing and snowboarding resorts, snowmobile, snowshoe and Nordic skiing trails, and ice fishing. Recreational activities include skiing at nearby Horseshoe Resort, Snow Valley, Mount St. Louis Moonstone, Blue Mountain and Hardwood Ski and Bike.

360° Panorama of the Barrie Waterfront


Club League Venue Established Championships
Barrie Colts OHL Hockey Sadlon Arena 1995 1
Barrie Baycats IBL Baseball Coates Stadium 2001 7
Georgian Grizzlies OCAA Georgian College 1967
Barrie Sharks PWHL Hockey East Bayfield Community Centre 2011 0
Simcoe County Rovers League1 Ontario J.C. Massie Field 2022 0

Barrie is also home to the Mariposa School of Skating, which has trained many world-class figure skaters, including Brian Orser, Elvis Stojko and Jeffrey Buttle.


Barrie has two major English school boards that operate inside the city at a public level. The Simcoe County District School Board administers a Public education in Barrie and Simcoe County, while the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board administers to the Catholic population and serves the Simcoe and Muskoka areas. It also has two French school boards, Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir (formerly Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud), the Catholic board, and Conseil scolaire Viamonde (CSV, formerly Conseil Scolaire de District du Centre-Sud-Ouest), the secular board. There are also several private schools both for K-8 and K-12.

High schools

  • Barrie North Collegiate Institute
  • Bear Creek Secondary School
  • Eastview Secondary School
  • École secondaire catholique Nouvelle-Alliance
  • Innisdale Secondary School
  • Maple Ridge Secondary School
  • St. Joseph's High School
  • Saint Joan of Arc
  • St. Peter's Catholic Secondary School
  • École secondaire Roméo-Dallaire
  • Unity Christian High School

Georgian College

Georgian College's main campus, with over 10,000 full-time students and approximately 25,000 part-time students, is located in Barrie.



There are no major airports with scheduled flights near Barrie (the closest being Toronto Pearson International Airport, located in Mississauga). There are a few airports that are used for light aviation aircraft:

  • Lake Simcoe Regional Airport
  • Barrie/Little Lake Water Aerodrome
  • Springwater (Barrie Airpark) Aerodrome


Barrie is served by Provincial Highway 400, which acts as the primary route between Barrie and Toronto. Highway 400 bisects the city on a roughly north–south basis. Highway 26, also located in the city, is the main route to the Collingwood area and is known as Bayfield Street within the city limits. Barrie was once served by Highway 27, Highway 90, Highway 93, Highway 131 and Highway 11. However, the province downgraded many highways in 1997 and 1998; these highways are now known as Simcoe County Road 27, Simcoe County Road 90 (Dunlop Street), and Simcoe County Road 93.

The portion of Highway 11 through Barrie is known as Yonge Street, though it is actually part of the Penetanguishene Road. Major arterial roads within the city include Mapleview Drive, Ferndale Drive, 10th Line, Big Bay Point Road, Essa Road, Huronia Road, Bayfield Street, Cundles Road, Anne Street, Dunlop Street, Livingstone Street, Duckworth Street, Wellington Street and St. Vincent Street.

Public transit

Public transport is provided by Barrie Transit, which operates numerous bus routes within the city. Accessible transit is offered by booking with city run Barrie Accessible Community Transportation Service. Most regular bus routes operated by Barrie Transit are accessible using low floor vehicles. Barrie also has GO Trains and Buses.

Interurban/commuter rail

GO Transit connects the city to the Greater Toronto Area through daily train service along the Barrie line, with trains operating from the Allandale Waterfront GO Station and the Barrie South GO Station. This is primarily a commuter rail service to the GTA, with southbound trips to Toronto's Union Station in the morning rush hour and northbound trips in the evening rush hour. Limited weekend service to and from Toronto is also operated. Barrie was once a stop for the Northlander train but re-routing resulted in termination of service. The former Barrie station serving the Northlander still exists north of the Allandale GO Station.

Interurban/commuter bus

In addition to train service, GO Transit offers daily commuter-oriented bus service to the Greater Toronto Area. Ontario Northland operates bus routes from various locations to and from Barrie. All inter-urban buses operate from the Barrie Transit Terminal at 24 Maple Street.

Barrie once had been served by various private interurban bus lines such as Penetang-Midland Coach Lines and Greyhound Canada, which ran buses between Barrie and Toronto's Yorkdale Bus Terminal. Greyhound operated QuickLink commuter service from Barrie to Toronto seven days a week. In the past Gray Coach offered service from Toronto to Barrie; the route was later acquired by Greyhound. Greyhound Canada ended all service in Ontario on May 13, 2021.

Barrie is also served by Simcoe County LINX, which provides services between municipalities within Simcoe County, including Orillia, Midland and Penetanguishine.

Passenger rail

Historically, Barrie was served by scheduled passenger rail service. Allandale Station was a stop for the Grand Trunk Railway, Canadian National Railway and Via Rail. In addition, Ontario Northland's Northlander used the station as a stop, as did CN Rail/Via Rail (namely The Canadian). Regular passenger rail service to the station ended in the 1980s and has largely been replaced by interurban / commuter rail service.

Notable people

  • Rebecca Hornbrook (born 1975), atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research

Images for kids

See also

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