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.
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.
In 1846, the population was about 500, mostly from England, Ireland and Scotland. A private school, three churches and a brick courthouse and a limestone jail (built in 1842) were in operation. Businesses included three taverns, six stores, three tanneries, a wagon maker, a bakery, a cabinet maker and six shoemakers, as well as a bank.
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. Steamships were running to the Muskoka Territory, Orillia and other communities and stages were taking passengers 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.
In January 2004, Barrie made international news when its city police raided the former Molson brewery, and found Canada's largest illegal cannabis grow operation.
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.Letitia Heights
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 hectares (22.93 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.
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 (4,553.6/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 (539.5/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.
Religious affiliations, 2011
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
Sun Media Central Ontario Production Hub and The Barrie Examiner newspaper
Hydro One Ontario Grid Control Centre
Notwithstanding these major employers, Barrie has increasingly been perceived as a bedroom community for those 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 specialty 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 in 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 trails and ice fishing. Recreational activities include skiing at nearby Horseshoe Resort, Snow Valley, Mount St. Louis Moonstone and Blue Mountain.
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.
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
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
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
Holly Community Centre
Lampman Lane Community Centre
Parkview Community Centre
Southshore Community Centre
YMCA of Barrie
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.
The current mayor of Barrie is Jeff Lehman, who was elected in November 2010, succeeding Dave Aspden.
Barrie has a long military history dating back to at least the Nine Mile Portage of the War of 1812. By the time of the 1837 Rebellion, Simcoe County had a sufficient population to form a battlion of Sedentary Militia of almost 600 strong. This battalion was involved in marching suspected rebels down Yonge Street to Toronto in order to face justice. By 1855, Barrie was home to an independent company of Rifle Company of militia, followed in 1863 by a company of Infantry. These companies served during the Fenian Raids.
With the Militia Act of 1866, the companies in Barrie were respectively organized as Number 1 and Number 5 companies, in the newly formed 35th Battalion of Infantry (Simcoe Foresters), gazetted on 14 September 1866. In 1885, four companies the 35th Simcoe Foresters, including those from Barrie, formed with four companies from the 12th York Battalion to form the York-Simcoe Battalion. This specially raised battalion served in Western Canada during the Northwest Rebellion, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel W.E. O'Brien of Shanty Bay, Ontario. For its efforts, The Simcoe Foresters received its first Battle Honour "Northwest Canada 1885."
Citizens of Barrie would next volunteer for military service during the Boer War in South Africa 1899-1902. It was during this conflict that at the Battle of Paardeberg the citizens of Barrie and The Simcoe Foresters suffered their first fatal casualty, Private James Halkett Findlay. Private Findlay was killed-in-action on 18 February 1900, while serving with C Company of the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry.
In 1914, the First World War broke out and many citizens of Barrie were quick to volunteer for service overseas with The Simcoe Foresters. Late the following year, the Regiment was tasked with raising two overseas battalions, the 157th Battalion (Simcoe Foresters), CEF and the 177th Battalion (Simcoe Foresters), CEF. In the spring of 1916, the Barrie and Collingwood companies of the 157th Battalion began clearing the land and construction of the new military camp on the Simcoe Pines Plain — Camp Borden (now CFB Borden). This began Barrie's long friendship with the Base.
With a re-organization of the Canadian Militia between the two World Wars, The Simcoe Foresters, headquartered in Barrie, were amalgamated in 1936 with the Grey Regiment, headquartered at Owen Sound, Ontario. This event created the present-day regiment of The Grey and Simcoe Foresters, which is headquartered at the Armoury in Queen's Park, downtown Barrie.
With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, citizens of Barrie volunteered for service overseas with The Grey and Simcoe Foresters, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. The City of Barrie sponsored a ship in the RCN, HMCS Barrie K-138, a Flower class corvette.
There are no major airports with scheduled flights near Barrie. 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 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), Simcoe County Road 93 and Simcoe County Road 30. 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 and Bayfield Street.
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.
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.
In addition to train service, GO Transit offers daily commuter-oriented bus service to the Greater Toronto Area. Barrie is served by various private interurban bus lines such as Penetang-Midland Coach Lines and parent Greyhound Canada, which run buses between Barrie and Toronto's Yorkdale Bus Terminal. Greyhound operates 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. 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.
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.
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, Le Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud and Le Conseil scolaire Viamonde. There are also several private schools both for K-8 and K-12.Barrie North Collegiate Institute
Bear Creek Secondary School
Eastview Secondary School
École Secondaire Catholique Nouvelle Alliance
Innisdale 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's main campus, with over 10,000 full-time students and approximately 25,000 part-time students, is located in Barrie. Georgian College offers a wide variety of diplomas and is well known in Canada and abroad for many quality programs, an exceptionally high graduate employment rate (94% and the highest in Ontario), and student and employer satisfaction rates.
Georgian College is home to the University Partnership Centre (UPC), which offers numerous Bachelor’s and master's degrees from various universities including Laurentian University, York University, Nipissing University, Embry-Riddle University and Central Michigan University. The UPC has been partnering with universities since 1997 and as of 2011, serves over 2400 students. The construction of the Centre for Health and Wellness will ensure Georgian has the capacity to expand its University Partnership Centre to offer even more degree and advanced-degree level studies.
Georgian College is also home to the "Sadlon Centre for Health and Wellness". Opened in 2011, this $65 million, 165,000-square-foot (15,300 m2) facility has allowed Georgian to double the number of health program students to 3,000 and allows students to pursue health and wellness related certificates, diplomas and degrees, including advanced degree programs. It is also home to a variety of health care services teaching clinics open to the public, as well as leading-edge laboratories and technology-enhanced classrooms.
The recently constructed "Centre for Sustainable Technologies" is also located in Georgian College's Barrie Campus. This new $8 million, 18,000-square-foot (1,700 m2) facility opened in 2009 and is home to construction and energy-related programming and skills training. The Centre serves as a learning lab with technology and systems that demonstrate where the future of the industry is headed on all building projects.
Village Media operates BarrieToday.com.
There are both daily and a semi-weekly newspapers in the City of Barrie.
The Barrie Examiner, established in 1864, is one of Canada's oldest daily newspapers. It is distributed five days a week (Tuesday to Saturday) to paid subscribers and is also delivered to the remainder of the market free each Thursday. It features coverage of local, regional and national news, entertainment, opinion, weather, sports and local community events.
The Barrie Advance is a free newspaper established in 1983, delivered once a week (Thursdays) to every residence in the city, Springwater Township, and parts of Oro-Medonte. The newspaper contains local news, classifieds, advertisements and flyers.
Barrie Business is a free newsprint publication covering local and regional business news. Published monthly, and distributed to every business in the City of Barrie through Canada Post, it seeks to highlight and support Barrie's local business community and events.
Rogers Cable is the local cable franchise serving the Barrie area. The area is served by Toronto television stations, however, the following are more specific to Barrie:Channel 3, cable 5: CKVR-DT - CTV Two
Cable 10: Rogers TV, community channel
Local radio stations serving Barrie and area include:FM 93.1 - CHAY ("931 Fresh Radio"), hot adult contemporary
FM 95.7 - CFJB ("Rock 95"), active rock
FM 100.3 - CJLF ("Life 100.3"), christian radio
FM 101.1 - CIQB ("101.1 Big Fm"), classic rock
FM 107.5 - CKMB ("1075 Kool FM"), hot adult contemporary
Brent Burns, NHL hockey player
Perry Anderson, retired NHL hockey player
Jeffrey Buttle, figure skating champion
Stevie Cameron, investigative journalist
Ken Carson, retired Athletic Trainer for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Blue Jays; retired General Manager of the Dunedin Blue Jays
Shayne Corson, retired NHL hockey player
Stockwell Day, Member of Parliament and former leader of the Canadian Alliance
Joe DiPenta, NHL hockey player
Hap Emms, former NHL player and NHL general manager
Kevin Frankish, Citytv news anchor
Brent Franklin, professional golfer
Ray Gariepy, retired NHL hockey player
Mike Gartner, retired NHL hockey player
Gary Goodridge, UFC fighter
Barry Harris, musician in bands Kon Kan, Outta Control, Thunderpuss
Ed Harper, former Member of Parliament and only MP from the Reform Party of Canada to be elected east of Manitoba
Smith Hart, retired pro wrestler
Ron Hoggarth, retired NHL referee
Michael Hutchinson, NHL hockey player
Gary Inness, retired NHL hockey player
Greg Johnston, retired NHL hockey player
Tuğba Karademir, figure skater
Doug Keans, retired NHL player
Leo Koopmans, retired professional European hockey player and 1980 Lake Placid Olympian
Doug Leigh, figure skating coach
Christopher Mabee, figure skater
Joseph B. MacInnis CM, explorer, leader of the dive to film the RMS Titanic in IMAX, and the first person to dive under the North Pole
John Madden, NHL hockey player
Dan Maloney, retired NHL player and former NHL head coach
Richard Porritt, mining industry executive and inductee in Canadian Mining Hall of Fame
Jennifer Robinson, six-time female figure skating champion
Darren Rumble, retired NHL hockey player
Darryl Shannon, retired NHL hockey player
Red Storey, retired CFL player and NHL referee
Doug Shedden, retired NHL hockey player
Barbara Tyson, actress
Voices In Public, pop group V.I.P., Genie award winners, Marty Beecroft, Glenn Coulson and Joe Heslip
Dave Wright, retired broadcaster
Jason McCoy, singer, front man of country group The Road Hammers
Daniel Vandervoort, CFL player