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.
|County of Simcoe|
For the Greater Good
|Established||1843 (as Simcoe District)|
|• Type||Upper Tier municipality|
|• Council||Simcoe County Council|
|• Land||4,818.93 km2 (1,860.60 sq mi)|
|• Total||351,929 excluding Barrie (147,829) and Orillia (33,411)|
|• Density||110.6/km2 (286/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Area code(s)||705 and 249|
The land area of the county is 4,818.93 square kilometres (1,860.60 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.
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 Transit train stations that provide daily commuter rail service to Toronto. North Simcoe includes 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. The cities of Barrie and Orillia are geographically within North Simcoe, but both are politically independent single-tier municipalities.
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. 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:
- West Gwillimbury
- North Orillia
- South Orillia
- Saint Vincent
- Uphrasia (sic)
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.
- Gwillimbury West
- Tossorontio (sic)
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.
Mara and Rama Townships were transferred to Simcoe County following the dissolution of Ontario County in 1974.
In 1994, the County was restructured into 16 local municipalities:
- Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury
- Town of Collingwood
- Town of Innisfil
- Town of Midland
- Town of New Tecumseth
- Town of Penetanguishene
- Town of Wasaga Beach
- Township of Adjala–Tosorontio
- Township of Clearview
- Township of Essa
- Township of Oro-Medonte
- Township of Ramara
- Township of Severn
- Township of Springwater
- Township of Tay
- Township of Tiny
As a census division in the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Simcoe County had a population of 533,169 living in 202,824 of its 225,087 total private dwellings, a change of 11.2% from its 2016 population of 479,635. With a land area of 4,818.93 km2 (1,860.60 sq mi), it had a population density of 110.6/km2 (286.6/sq mi) in 2021.
|Population||533,169 (+11.2% from 2016)||479,650 (+7.5% from 2011)||446,063 (+5.7% from 2006)|
|Land area||4,818.93 km2 (1,860.60 sq mi)||4,859.64 km2 (1,876.32 sq mi)||4,859.16 km2 (1,876.13 sq mi)|
|Population density||110.6/km2 (286/sq mi)||98.7/km2 (256/sq mi)||91.8/km2 (238/sq mi)|
|Median age||43.2 (M: 41.6, F: 44.4)||43.1 (M: 41.9, F: 44.3)|
|Total private dwellings||225,087||206,549||195,388|
|Median household income||$76,489|
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.
Federal and provincial representationEdit
The current Members of Parliament representing Simcoe County are:
- Bruce Stanton (Conservative), Simcoe North
- Terry Dowdall (Conservative), Simcoe—Grey
- Doug Shipley (Conservative), Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte
- John Brassard (Conservative), Barrie—Innisfil
- Scot Davidson (Conservative), York—Simcoe
The current Members of Provincial Parliament representing Simcoe County are:
- Jill Dunlop (Progressive Conservative), Simcoe North
- Brian Saunderson (Progressive Conservative), Simcoe—Grey
- Doug Downey (Progressive Conservative), Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte
- Andrea Khanjin (Progressive Conservative), Barrie—Innisfil
- Caroline Mulroney (Progressive Conservative), York—Simcoe
Law enforcement and policingEdit
Six police services provide law enforcement and local policing in Simcoe County: Barrie Police Service in Barrie; South Simcoe Police Service in Innisfil and Bradford West Gwillimbury; Midland Police Service in Midland, Ontario; Rama Police Service in Rama, Ontario and for the Chippewas of Rama First Nation; Anishinabek Police Service on Christian Island and for the Beausoleil First Nation; and Ontario Provincial Police for the rest of the county including Orillia, and enforcement on provincial highways, especially Ontario Highway 400 and Ontario Highway 11.
The local public agency for the county, the cities of Barrie and Orillia, and the neighbouring District Municipality of Muskoka is the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. It is responsible for delivering public health programs and services, enforcing public health regulations, and advising local officials and local governments on health issues.
Simcoe County has 5 hospitals: Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie; Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital; Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston, Ontario (New Tecumseth); Collingwood General And Marine Hospital; and Georgian Bay General Hospital in Midland and Penetanguishene. Southern parts of the County are also served by the Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ontario (York Region).
The County operates ambulance and paramedic services (EMS) for the county and the independent cities of Barrie and Orillia. The Beausoleil First Nation (Christian Island) and the Chippewas of Rama First Nation (Rama) operate their own EMS services for their territories.
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 is one of the county's largest single employers. In addition to the automotive industry, other industries include plastics, glass manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and aggregate resources. The county is also home to other institutions including Casino Rama, Georgian College, Canadian Forces Base Borden, a campus of 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 its 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).
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 County is also served by the Orillia Ramara Regional Airport in Ramara, 12 km northeast of Orillia. The closest major airport, however, is Toronto Pearson International Airport.
The County has operated an intercommunity regional bus service, LINX, since 2018. It also operates a subsidiary paratransit service 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. Planned future routes would connect Alliston with Bradford West Gwillimbury, and Midland with Orillia.
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.
- The Simcoe County District School Board operates all public schools within Simcoe County.
- The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board operates the separate Catholic school system within Simcoe County.
- The Conseil scolaire Viamonde operates all French language public schools within Simcoe County.
- The Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud (CSDCCS) operates all French language Catholic schools within Simcoe County.
Undergraduate and graduate university programs are offered at Lakehead University in Orillia. Post-secondary education is also offered by Georgian College in Barrie, Midland, Orillia and Collingwood. A number of additional universities offer programs through the University Partnership Centre (UPC) in Georgian College.
- "Census Profile, 2021 Census: Simcoe, County [Census division], Ontario". Statistics Canada. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
- "(Code 3543) Census Profile". 2011 census. Statistics Canada. 2012. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- An act for the better division of this province, S.U.C. 1798, c. 5, s. 33-34 , as amended by An Act to repeal part of an act passed in the thirty-eighth year of his late Majesty's reign, entitled, "An act for the better division of this province," and to make further provision for the division of the same into counties and districts, S.U.C. 1821, c. 3, s. 7
- "Beausoleil First Nation".
- Hunter 1909a, p. 235.
- An Act to authorize the Erection of the County of Simcoe into a separate District, by the name of the District of Simcoe, S.U.C. 1837, c. 32
- "Celebrating 175 Years of Incorporation: The County of Simcoe, 1843-2018". www.simcoe.ca. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
- An Act for better defining the limits of the Counties and Districts in Upper Canada, for erecting certain new Townships, for detaching Townships from some Counties and attaching them to others, and for other purposes relative to the division of Upper Canada into Townships, Counties and Districts, S.Prov.C. 1845, c. 7, Sch. B
- An Act for abolishing the Territorial Division of Upper-Canada into Districts, and for providing temporary Unions of Counties for Judicial and other purposes, and for the future dissolutions of such Unions, as the increase of wealth and population may require, S.Prov.C. 1849, c. 78, Sch. B
- Hunter 1909a, p. 240.
- An Act to make certain alterations in the Territorial Divisions of Upper Canada, S.C. 1851, c. 5, Sch. E, par. 1
- An Act to make certain alterations in the Territorial Divisions of Upper Canada, S.Prov.C. 1851, c. 5, Sch. A
- uniting the townships of North and South Orillia
- An Act to provide for the organization of the Territorial District of Muskoka, S.O. 1868, c. 35 and An Act to provide for the organization of the Territorial District of Parry Sound, S.O. 1869, c. 24
- 1868 Act (s. 14), 1869 Act (s.19), An Act to Erect the Township of Monck, in the District of Muskoka, into a Municipality, S.O. 1868-9, c. 56 , An Act to Erect the Townships of Watt, Cardwell, Humphrey, Christie, Medora and Wood, in the District of Muskoka, into a Municipality, S.O. 1868-9, c. 57 , An Act to establish Municipal Institutions in the Districts of Parry Sound, Muskoka, Nipissing and Thunder Bay, S.O. 1871-2, c. 37
- Hunter 1909a, pp. 243–245.
- An Act respecting the Territorial and Temporary Judicial Districts of the Province, and the Provisional County of Haliburton, S.O. 1877, c. 24, s. 2
- An Act respecting Muskoka and Parry Sound, S.O. 1888, c. 13, s. 22
- An Act to confirm certain preliminary proceedings, and make further provision for the formation of the County of Dufferin, S.O. 1880, c. 37
- County of Simcoe Act, 1993, S.O. 1993, c. 33, s. 2
- "Population and dwelling counts: Canada and census divisions". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
- "2021 Community Profiles". 2021 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 4, 2022. Retrieved 2022-06-21.
- "2016 Community Profiles". 2016 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. August 12, 2021. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- "2011 Community Profiles". 2011 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. March 21, 2019. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- "2006 Community Profiles". 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. August 20, 2019.
- "2001 Community Profiles". 2001 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. July 18, 2021.
- County looking to restructure its council
- County Council Chooses Not to Study Its Structure
- "Non-Emergency Contacts Numbers Simcoe County" (PDF).
- "Contact". South Simcoe Police Service. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- "Future Plans". Retrieved 2019-01-10.