Simcoe County is a region of about 480,000 people (2016) in Central Ontario. Simcoe attracts 8 million visitors an year, many of them coming for water sports in the summer, like boating and fishing on the lakes, or for skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. Indoor sports include shopping at outlet malls, and gambling at the casino.
- 1 Barrie — the largest city in the county, and a playground for watersports and boating on the bay
- 2 Collingwood — the gateway to two major recreational area: Blue Mountain ski resort and Wasaga Beach Provincial Park
- 3 Midland — home of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, a living history museum
- 4 Orillia — festivals, museums, and Casino Rama
- 5 Penetanguishene — focussed onnthe water, it has an historic harbour and several marinas
- 6 Wasaga Beach — the world's longest freshwater beach draws over 2 million visitors every summer
- 7 Washago — a stopping-off point for people heading to summer cottages
- 1 Awenda Provincial Park — 6 public campgrounds, swimming, canoeing (rentals available) and hiking (31 km of trails). Geological features include the Nipissing Bluff and a kettle lake formed during the retreat of the glaciers at the end of the most recent ice age.
Simcoe County is home to a range of industries from agricultural, industrial to high-tech.
Honda of Canada Manufacturing and is one of the county's largest single employers. Other industries include plastics, glass manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and aggregate resources. The county is also home to Casino Rama, Georgian College, Canadian Forces Base Borden, a campus of Lakehead University and the Ontario Provincial Police Headquarters.
Tourism is a vital industry in Simcoe County. Simcoe County plays host to over eight million visitors annually.
The area that is now Simcoe County was home to the Huron First Nations (Indigenous) people before European exploration. The Huron capital, Ossossané, was at one time the largest Indigenous settlement in all of North America outside Mexico.
The former Wendake area near Nottawasaga Bay was the site of the earliest French exploration and settlement of Ontario; they were the first Europeans in the area. Several historic sites, including Carhagouha and Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, mark the earliest known contacts between the area's traditional Huron population and French missionaries.
Simcoe County was named by Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada John Graves Simcoe in honour of his father Captain John Simcoe. It was established as part of the Home District in 1798 by the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada.
Simcoe County is traversed by many Provincial Highways; Ontario Highway 400 being the most significant. Other provincial highways in Simcoe County include: Highway 11, Highway 12, Highway 26, Highway 89 and Highway 93.
GO Transit operates daily commuter rail services to and from downtown Toronto along its Barrie line with three stops in Simcoe County: one stop in Bradford West Gwillimbury (Bradford) and two stops in Barrie (Barrie South and Allandale Waterfront).
Via Rail's Canadian Toronto-Vancouver transcontinental passenger train makes request stops at the Washago railway station in Severn.
The Lake Simcoe Regional Airport is almost midway between Barrie and Orillia, in the township of Oro-Medonte. The airport is equipped to accommodate propeller and jet aircraft. The closest airport with scheduled sevice is Toronto Pearson Airport.
Intercity bus services serving Simcoe County include GO Transit (Route 68), Greyhound Canada, and Ontario Northland.
The road network in Simcoe County is based on a grid pattern, with most roads running north–south or east–west. Simcoe County also maintains an extensive series of County Roads, see List of numbered roads in Simcoe County.
The intercommunity regional bus service is called LINX, and the paratransit service is called LINX+. The LINX system connects population centres in the area such as Barrie, Orillia, Midland, Penetanguishene, Wasaga Beach, and Collingwood, and acts as an intermediate transit layer between local community bus services and higher-order regional transit, such as GO Transit and Ontario Northland.
Some of the county's larger urban centres have local public transit operations, which consist of bus services. These include Barrie Transit, BWG Transit (Bradford West Gwillimbury), Colltrans (Collingwood), Orillia Transit, Midland Penetanguishene Transit, and Wasaga Beach Transit.
You can take a break from the beautiful outdoors — the beaches, the skihills, the boating — to enjoy cultural activities in Orillia. It has an arts district, an art gallery, a couple of museums, and an opera house that stages professional theatre in the summer, and concerts and local productions through the year.
Midland is the town to visit to explore the region's history at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, a recreated 17th-century French Jesuit mission headquarters, and Huronia Museum & Ouendat Village, which features a replica of a “pre-contact” Huron/Ouendat village, including a lookout tower, wigwam and a full-size longhouse.
- 1 Borden Military Museum, Ram Street 27 (in CFB Borden), ☏ . M-F 9AM-3PM, Sa Su 1-4PM; closed Dec 25, Jan 1, Good Friday, Easter Sunday. One of Canada’s largest military museums. Armoured vehicles and artillery pieces from Canada and other countries dating back to World War I, and an AVRO 504K aircraft, the oldest flyable aeroplane in Canada. free.
Go to the beach: Wasaga's 18 km of white sand beach are the place to be in the summer. Blue Mountain, near Collingwood, is an all seasons resort that is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding in winter, and for its waterpark and golf courses in summer.
For hiking and biking, a rail trail connects Collingwood to the towns of Owen Sound and Barrie.
Awenda Provincial Park, near Penetanguishene, is one of most beautiful parts of Georgian Bay shore, with sand, cobble and boulder beaches in sheltered Methodist Point Bay.
Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, in Wasaga Beach, is great for swimming. You can walk out a long way and the water remains warm and shallow. The beaches are numbered 1 to 6 from east to west. In the winter, there is cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the park's trails.
Casino Rama, near Orillia, has restaurants, a hotel and spa, and an entertainment complex which regularly hosts ticketed shows.
Continue north to the rugged regions of Muskoka, Parry Sound and Northern Ontario. These less populated places on the rocky Canadian Shield provide endless opportunities for boating, canoeing, hiking, fishing and hunting.
Or head south to the Greater Toronto Area for its vibrant urban life and cultural attractions.