Barrie and Alliston, just North of the GTA
Located on the west shore of Lake Simcoe on Kempenfelt Bay, the city of Barrie is a seasonal paradise with waterfront activities in the summer and wonderful skiing options come winter. It’s one of Canada’s fastest growing cities, and is less than 90 minutes from Toronto.
With more than 90 parks and a beach-lined waterfront, this city emits a tranquil atmosphere on one hand, and a vibrant cultural destination on the other.
Residents and visitors are naturally drawn to the 6.7-kilometre trail along Kempenfelt Bay. This easily accessible path is paved and predominantly flat. Along it, you’ll find three beaches, playgrounds, splash pads, restaurants and cafes. It’s the ideal spot for soaking up a summer breeze, and pondering life’s mysteries.
Designed by sculptor, Ron Baird, for the 1986 EXPO in Vancouver, the Spirit Catcher was purchased by the Helen McCrea Peacock Foundation of Toronto and donated to the Barrie Gallery Project (later the MacLaren Art Centre) in 1987. After some fine tuning to ensure the sculpture’s structural integrity against the strong winds of Kempenfelt Bay, it’s still the centre’s largest piece in their permanent collection. The Spirit Catcher was influenced by the Aboriginal myth of the Thunderbird, who is a messenger that carries dreams and desires to the creator.
Celebrate Barrie kicks off the warmer weather season, followed by Promenade Days and Canada Day festivities. On the first weekend in August, Kempenfest features more than 300 artisans, as well as live entertainment, children’s activities and food demonstrations. Seasonal events also take place at the Barrie Farmers’ Market and the Southshore Centre.
Barrie is home to the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, located in the city’s northeast end. The RVH offers cancer care close to home, as well as a variety of specialized health care programs.
Easily accessible via Highway 400 and the GO train, Barrie offers affordable homes, in addition to a heightened quality of life.
Alliston is a settlement in Simcoe County, and part of the Town of New Tecumseth amalgamation in 1991, which also includes Beeton, Tottenham and the Township of Tecumseth. The town grew as a commercial centre for the area farmers. Best-known for growing potatoes, the Alliston Potato Festival continues to celebrate its origins on an annual basis.
Located off of Highway 89, Alliston is a mere 45-minute drive to Toronto, via Highway 400 or Highway 27.
Something for everyone
The Nottawasaga Inn and Hockley Valley Resorts are favourite destinations with a wide variety of sporting activities. The Nottawasaga includes a 70,000-square-foot health and fitness centre, in addition to indoor squash, racquetball and tennis courts. At the 300-acre Hockley Valley Resort, winter enthusiasts can access 15 downhill skiing runs, as well as trails for snow shoeing and cross country skiing. The Trans Canada Trail, Mansfield Outdoor Centre and Earl Rowe Provincial Park also provide opportunities for cross country skiing, hiking and biking.
Sample some old-fashioned rock candy at the Museum on the Boyne, and then tour the museum’s collection of buildings, including an 1851 log cabin, an 1858 English barn, a 1914 Agricultural Fair Building and Alliston’s old town jail.
Formerly a farm implement factory, the Gibson Centre is an historical area landmark. This lovingly restored 1889 treasure features a performance hall, gallery space and a cafe. Downstairs in the Mercer Pub, you can enjoy local craft beer while listening to live entertainment.
Alliston, and neighbouring Cookstown, offer quaint, mainstreet shopping experiences. At Tanger Outlets Cookstown, located at Highways 400 and 89, you can shop at more than 100 brand-name/ designer stores, including the Crocs Outlet, the Royal Daulton Outlet, Under Armour and Calvin Klein