Simcoe County is located in the central portion of Southern Ontario, Canada. The county is just north of the Greater Toronto Area, stretching from the shores of Lake Simcoe in the east to Georgian Bay in the west. Simcoe County forms part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe area, a densely populated and industrialized region centred on the Greater Toronto Area.
The land area of the county is 4,668.70 square kilometres (1,802.60 sq mi). The elevated Niagara Escarpment runs through sections of the western part of the county and the Minesing Wetlands, a Ramsar Convention Wetland Of International Importance, is located in the central area of the county.
Although not politically recognized, Simcoe County is informally split into two subregions, “South Simcoe” and “North Simcoe”. The dividing line between these two areas is Simcoe County Road 90 (Mill St.).
South Simcoe municipalities are situated at the northern boundary of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and therefore generally have a closer socio-economic association with the GTA. South Simcoe is also within the Toronto commuter-belt as it is home to a relatively high proportion of people commuting to the GTA. South Simcoe is home to five municipalities, including: the Town of Innisfil, the Township of Adjala-Tosorontio, the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, the Township of Essa and the Town of New Tecumseth (which includes: Alliston, Beeton and Tottenham).
North Simcoe is less connected to the GTA due to its more removed geographic location, is generally less industrial than South Simcoe and generally has a closer socio-economic association with the Muskoka area, located immediately north. However, North Simcoe hosts two GO Train Stations which provide daily commuter rail service to Toronto. North Simcoe includes: the City of Barrie, the City of Orillia (although politically separate), the Township of Clearview, the Township of Oro-Medonte, the Township of Ramara, the Township of Severn, the Township of Springwater, the Township of Tay and the Township of Tiny, the Town of Collingwood, the Town of Midland, the Town of Penetanguishene and the Town of Wasaga Beach.
Simcoe County, in particular 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. The Huron capital, Ossossané, was at one time the largest aboriginal settlement in all of North America outside Mexico.
The County, named by Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada John Graves Simcoe in honour of his father Captain John Simcoe, was established as part of the Home District in 1798 by the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, and its initial territory was described as follows:
...Matchedash, Gloucester, or Penetanguishene, together with Prince William Henry's Island, and all the land lying between the Midland District and a line produced due north from a certain fixed boundary (at the distance of about fifty miles north-west from the outlet of Burlington Bay) till it intersects the northern limits of the Province...
At its beginning, the County existed only for purposes of military enlistment. In 1823, it became a separate constituency for elections to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, but, as eligibility to vote was dependent upon having title to property, and Simcoe's first registrar of deeds was not appointed until 1826, it did not send a separate member to the Assembly until the election of John Cawthra in 1828. It was withdrawn from the Home District in 1837, with its territory divided as follows:
|Home||Fourth Riding of York||
Between 1837 and 1841 several acts were passed by the Legislature of Upper Canada which set apart Simcoe District. These acts named the townships that the County would encompass and authorized the levying of taxes for the purpose of constructing a jail and court house. On January 11, 1843, the jail and court house having been duly erected, the Governor General proclaimed the County of Simcoe to be a separate and distinct District. The province of Canada also appointed James R. Gowan as the first judge of the District of Simcoe.
The District was restructured in 1845, changing its composition to the following 24 townships:
Effective January 1, 1850, Simcoe District was abolished, and Simcoe County was organized for municipal purposes.
Between 1845 and 1851, there had been a campaign to have the part of West Gwillimbury south of the Holland River annexed to York County. The County Council finally agreed to this action in 1851, subject to arbitration as to the division of liabilities. It was implemented by an Act of the Parliament of the Province of Canada later that year.
Together with the unorganized territory bounded to the north by the French River, to the south by the Severn River and Rama Township, to the west by Lake Huron and to the east by the former boundary between the Home District and the Newcastle District as extended to the French River.
The unorganized territory, some of which had been surveyed into townships, together with parts of Victoria County and Nipissing District, was withdrawn in 1868-1869 to form the new District of Muskoka and District of Parry Sound. However, any municipalities established in them still formed part of the original counties for municipal purposes, and they were still responsible for the administration of justice, which proved to be problematic. The portions of the districts that were not part of Simcoe County were transferred to it in 1877. This lasted until 1888, when the territory contained within the districts was separated from Simcoe County.
In 1994, the County was restructured into 16 local municipalities:
The figues below are for the Simcoe census division, which includes the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia, as well as the three Indian reserves.
|Canada census – Simcoe County community profile|
|Population:||446,063 (5.7% from 2006)||422,204 (12.0% from 2001)|
|Land area:||4,859.16 km2 (1,876.13 sq mi)||4,840.56 km2 (1,868.95 sq mi)|
|Population density:||91.8/km2 (238/sq mi)||87.2/km2 (226/sq mi)|
|Median age:||39.8 (M: 39.0, F: 40.5)|
|Total private dwellings:||195,388||180,071|
|Median household income:||$62,328|
|Notes: Includes separated municipalities of Barrie and Orillia. – References: 2011 2006 earlier|
The Corporation of the County of Simcoe comprises 16 local municipalities. As an "upper tier" municipality, the County of Simcoe is responsible for municipal services which include social housing, land ambulance and emergency planning, environmental services (solid waste management), a County road system, Ontario Works, children's services, homes for the aged, a library co-operative, museum, archives, County forest management, tourism, a Geographic Information System (computer mapping) and land use policy planning.
The local, or "lower tier" municipalities are responsible for water and sewer services, local roads, public libraries, recreation services, fire and police services, land use development control and licensing and permitting services.
The cities of Barrie and Orillia, although separate politically and administratively from the County, are geographically and economically part of the County and send elected representatives to serve on County committees which provide services to the residents of the cities, including paramedic services, long term care facilities, social services, social housing, archives and Museum. They are counted within the census division.
County Council is composed of the mayors and deputy mayors of each of the sixteen towns and townships which comprise the County of Simcoe. The head of County Council is called the Warden and is elected for a one-year term by the council members at the Inaugural Meeting, held each December.
Simcoe County encompasses all or part of the federal electoral districts of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, Barrie—Innisfil, York—Simcoe, Simcoe—Grey and Simcoe North.
The current Members of Parliament representing Simcoe County are:
Simcoe County encompasses all or part of the provincial electoral districts of Barrie, York—Simcoe, Simcoe—Grey and Simcoe North.
The current Members of Provincial Parliament representing Simcoe County are:
The economy of Simcoe County is diverse and includes a full range of businesses from agricultural, industrial to high-tech.
Honda of Canada Manufacturing has been established in Simcoe County since 1986 and continues to be one of the County's largest single employers. In addition to the automotive industry, other industries include plastics, glass manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, aggregate resources. The County is also home to internationally known institutions like Casino Rama, Georgian College, Canadian Forces Base Borden, Lakehead University and the Ontario Provincial Police Headquarters.
Agri-business is a diverse multi-faceted industry and farmland in the region is among the best in all of Canada including a section of the Holland Marsh in Bradford.
Tourism is a vital industry in Simcoe County, providing a diversity of jobs and economic impact in a variety of sectors including accommodation, restaurants, destinations, events and retail. Simcoe County plays host to over eight million visitors annually that contributes more than 570 million dollars in spending to our economy.
The road network in Simcoe County is based on a grid pattern, with most roads running north-south or east-west. The topography of the land has permitted roads to be set in predominantly straight lines.
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.
Simcoe County also maintains an extensive series of County Roads, see List of numbered roads in Simcoe County.
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).
There are three main rail freight operators in Simcoe County, namely, Canadian National Railway (CN), Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and Barrie Collingwood Railway.
The Lake Simcoe Regional Airport is a registered airport located almost midway between Barrie and Orillia, in the township of Oro-Medonte. The airport is owned jointly by the City of Barrie (60%), the Township of Oro-Medonte (20%), and the County (20%). The airport is equipped to accommodate propeller and jet aircraft, and is classified as an airport of entry by Nav Canada and is staffed by the Canada Border Services Agency. The closest major airport, however, is Toronto Pearson Airport.
Some of the County's larger urban centres have public transit operations consisting of bus services. There are local bus services include services in Barrie, Orillia, Midland, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, and Bradford.
Post-secondary education is offered by Georgian College in Barrie, Midland, Orillia and Collingwood and by Lakehead University and Laurentian University in Orillia. A number of additional universities offer programs through the University Partnership Centre (UPC) in Georgian College.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Simcoe County, Ontario.|