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Information and History of Barrie Ontario


Barrie's origins extend back to First Nations People using the western shores of Kempenfelt Bay as a gathering place before traveling the portage that ran between Lake Simcoe and the Nottawasaga River to Lake Huron. The War of 1812 resulted in increased use of this passage allowing for British troops and supplies to bypass the American forces stationed at Detroit. After the War of 1812, settlers arrived at the gathering place and took up residence at the end of the portage, beginning the history of Barrie's first community. The British military presence is reflected in many street names, and even in the name of the city itself, in honour of British Admiral Sir Robert Barrie.


Trees have always been a sought after resource of which there was always a plentiful supply in the local area. These White Pines were used as masts on British Ships and also for railway ties. Ice Blocks for refrigeration were cut out of Kempenfelt Bay and shipped to Toronto, Buffalo and Detroit.

Street History of Barrie

On May 15th in 1833 William Hawkins, a provincial land surveyour registered a blue print for the site of Barrie in the township of Vespra and the county of Simcoe. Commodore Barrie is thought to have been present when the original street names were chosen. Dr. "Tiger" Dunlop or his brother Captain Robert Dunlop are thought to be the name sakes for Barrie's main street. Collier Street is also somewhat of a mystery, a choice between Sir George Collier or possibly Edward Collier and captain at that time. Worsley and Poyntz were named after naval captains of frigates on the Great Lakes. Clapperton was named after a captain of a gun boat. Ross street was probably named after the surveyor who owned a large tract of land abutting it. Most names are thought to be taken from Military figures of the time.


Barrie is now one of the largest towns supporting Base Borden, a training base, and regulary hosts military commanders to commemorate events.

Barrie the Community

Barrie is a vibrant and attractive city with swimmable beaches and challenging ski opportunities on our doorstep. An abundance of parkland, totalling over 90 parks, comprising in excess of 300 ha. are scattered throughout the city. Several of these parks line beautiful Kempenfelt Bay with extensive biking, roller blading and walking trails. Cultural attractions include the renowned Gryphon Theatre, and international concert and performance venue at the, a 4,200 seat multi-purpose entertainment facility, and the $120 Million, health care facility was constructed in 1997 adjacent to Georgian College. The location provides easy access for those in need of its services. The hospital provides 297 acute care beds and 270 operational beds. The hospital location adjacent to the college provides a unique opportunity for cooperative training, research and clinical trials, unequaled in North America.The City is home to a 40,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art public library, located in at the junction of Worsley and Owen Street. Barrie Public Library is open 7 days a week and houses a multimedia collection that serves residents of all ages in the City of Barrie. Alongside usual library services the library also offers free Internet access to patrons, plus a wide variety of adult and children's programmes. Information Barrie is a service of the Barrie Public Library, providing information about community groups, agencies, government offices, churches, daycare, schools, etc.

Barrie's Railway

Barrie, was the county seat at the time the first railway was built and at the time had declined to contribute to the new railway. This lack of support on the part of Barrie is thought to be the main reason the railway bypassed Barrie and ended up in Allendale. The railway had its start with "Conflict of Interest" issues when the city of Toronto issued debentures to fund the railway and with this knowledge the Toronto Mayor and Hincks apparently purchased them at a twenty percent discount. The conflict continued with Barrie city members and thus Allendale ended up with the railway. Barrie tried for 12 years to gain access to the railway, then finally when the track was extended to Orillia, Barrie finally got its railway. No the railway track has been downgraded to a walking trail, It is ironic that the return of the railway was originally planned for the old depot located in Allendale.


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