by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams
Welcome to Barrie...
The following is an excerpt from The City of Barrie website ~ "Welcome to Barrie - A vibrant and attractive city with swimmable beaches and challenging ski opportunities on our doorstep. An abundance of parkland, totaling over 90 parks, comprising in excess of 300 ha. are scattered throughout the city. Several of these parks line beautiful Kempenfelt Bay."
For years I have been driving along the 400 and passing the City of Barrie. For many of those years that’s all I did, drive by. In doing that, though, I saw Barrie grow from a smaller northern community (my perception) to now a thriving city! Along that time and my journey I saw the Highway 400 that by-passed Barrie go from a 2 lane road to a 6 lane super Highway. There was a time that I even lived in Barrie. It was only for a year and my job was located in Richmond Hill. Unfortunately I didn’t learn much about Barrie, I was too busy with work. It’s too bad, because, even then, Barrie was an exciting place to live. Barrie is located about an hour (depending on traffic) north of the GTA. It’s located on the west shores of Lake Simcoe on Kempenfelt Bay. The downtown is lively and takes in the parks that dot the lakeshore.
One of the best summer events, Kempenfest, takes place in the beautiful shores of Kempenfelt Bay. The sandy beach acts as a backdrop for the festival. Other great events also invite both out-of-towners and locals to enjoy. 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 and 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. Our friend, re-enactor, David Brunelle, of has played an intricate role in the reenactments and events in the Barrie area, including the Nine Mile Portage event. Then, there is the Barrie Fair, now located southwest of the City; it is still the pride of Barrie! From experience, I can tell you Barrie is a great place to live, work and play, and, if you are determined to live elsewhere, it’s a great place to visit!