Barrie, Ontario Area Community Overview
The City of Barrie is nestled on the western shore of Lake Simcoe, just southeast of Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes. The city of 128,000 (2006) sits on Highway 400 connecting Toronto and Southern Ontario to Ontario's cottage country, and the Trans-Canada Highway to Western Canada.
Originally located on an ancient portage route from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay, Barrie is made accessible by the Trent Severn Waterway and then early settlement roads, and more recently, Highway 400. Barrie is a city built around beautiful Lake Simcoe, which is home to many of the city's prized attractions and facilities, with many parks and attractions close to the Lake.
Barrie is the gateway to the beautiful Muskoka cottage country to the north-east, and the Georgian Bay to the north and west, and is on the northern edge of the Greater Toronto Area, benefitting from both close access to Toronto and its transportation network, as well as lower land costs and lower cost of living.
In the post-war era, many large American-based industries opened branches in Barrie, taking advantage of the favourable labour costs. The are is strong in manufacturing, based on the extraction and processing of local natural resources, as well supplying other manufacturers and the large consumer market of southern Ontario and the northeastern United States.
Improved cars and highways allowed Barrie residents to efficiently commute to work in Toronto. In the 1970s, Highway 400 between Barrie and Toronto was widened from 4 lanes to 6 (with 8 lanes south of Highway 88). In the 1990s, Highway 400 has been extended northward from Barrie, progressively "twinning" the route taken by Highway 69 to Sudbury. Eventually, it will connect to the main route of the Trans-Canada Highway at Sudbury.
The larger communities in the area include Barrie, Orillia, Owen Sound and Parry Sound, which combine a good industrial base, excellent road and rail access, as well as close access to area recreation.
There are many smaller recreation and tourism based communities worth moving to in this area, including Huntsville, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge in the Muskoka area.
To the west of Barrie, along the shores of Gerogian Bay (on Lake Huron) are Midland, Penetanguishene, Wasaga Beach and Collingwood along Georgian Bay. Futher west is the fourishing town of Owen Sound, at the base of the Bruce Peninsula.
These communities attract not only seasonal cottage residents but those who enjoy the scenic beauty and access to nearby recreation year-round.