Simcoe County has a deep heritage for this is the heart of the land of the Wendat, or Hurons. Their main settlement was near to Elmvale. The main cultivated plants were the “Three Sisters’ – corn (maize), squash and beans. Unfortunately, there is little to be seen in the countryside of this Nation, which suffered great hardship after its loss to the Iroquois in the War of 1649. This defeat signalled the end of the Wendat Nation in this area. It is now located in two places: Quebec and Oklahoma.
There had been some European influence since the 1640s, but the European settlement which produced the road system which this route uses, began after the arrival of refugees in 1784 with further settlement after the Napoleonic Wars. This road system consists of a grid of concession lines and sideroads.
The scenery of our route is rolling in the south but flatter to the north. This is the product of actions towards the end of the latest Ice Age. The main river that we encounter is the Nottawasaga, rising near Orangeville, running north through the Minesing Wetlands (Swamp) before reaching its mouth at Wasaga Beach, Georgian Bay.
As you drive from Barrie you will soon pass the slopes of Snow Valley, one of several skiing centres of the county. This higher ground soon gives way to Minesing Wetland (swamp). Park at Fort Willow, walk through the reconstructed fort (volunteer maintained), descend the steps (many) and turn left along the hiking trail (an old railway line) to a look-out point over the swamp. Fall is a great time for this view with the contrast of yellow and dark green. Later, at Wasaga Beach, you will pass Nancy Island where you may see the keel of HMS Nancy. In 1814 its crew took three days to traverse the bush from the wreck of the Nancy to Fort Willow. It may be driven today in 20 minutes.
Wasaga Beach is famous for its extensive beach, claimed as the longest freshwater beach in the World. This is one of the three main refreshment stops on our tour. The other two are at Angus and Elmvale. Near Angus is Base Borden, the starting point for many Canadian servicemen in both World Wars. Check out the Tank Museum.
At several places along the route (e.g. Elmvale) you will find the access points to hiking trails: North Simcoe Rail Trail; Ganaraska Trail; Tiny Trail etc. Whatever your interest: history, scenery, hiking, driving, picnicking, you should find something of interest in this part of Simcoe County.
directions for the 140 km tour:
- Begin at the intersection of Bayfield Rd and Hwy 400 (junction 98); drive north on Bayfield St (Hwy 26); cross Carson Rd
- Turn left (west) onto Snow Valley Rd (CR 43) (traffic lights); pass on left access to hiking in Hickling Tract of Simcoe Forest
- Turn right (north) onto Wilson Drive (T-Junction) (CR 53/CR 43) … and then …
quickly … just before railway … route curves left (west) as Snow Valley Dr (CR 43); cross railway; pass on left Snow Valley Ski resort
- Cross George Johnston Rd (CR 28) (traffic lights); route now called Portage Trail; There are 3 curves in the road – left, right and left … before … passing on the right a parking lot for Historic Fort Willow (Willow Creek Depot). This is also an access point for the Ganaraska Trail, Trans Canada Trail, North Simcoe Rail Trail and the initial route of the Nine Mile Portage Heritage Trail to Barrie; our route is now called Grenfel Rd; cross railway
- Turn right (west) onto Old Orchard Rd; cross railway on a right/left dogleg (unguarded – take care); cross hiking trails; route curves to left (south) as Pinegrove Rd; cross hiking trails; cross railway (unguarded – take care)
- Turn right (west) onto Sunnidale Rd; cross Pinegrove Rd; cross Baldwick Lane; cross railway;
- Turn right (west) onto CR 90 (no sign – a main road); pass on left 6 Line; pass on left 5 Line (traffic lights)
- Turn right (still west) onto CR 10 (traffic lights) (sign for Wasaga Beach); route curves right (north); pass on left Sunnidale – Tosoronto Townline; cross Concession 2 (in Brentwood); pass on left CR 9; pass on right Concession 5; pass on right Concession 6; cross Concession 7; cross Concession 9; cross Hwy 26 (traffic lights); cross Concession 12; arrive in Town of Wasaga Beach (note speed limit)
- Turn right (east) onto Mosley Rd (CR 92) (traffic lights)
- just before a bridge … (shopping area to right) … Turn left at traffic lights (still east and still on Mosley Rd)
- after driving through a residential area … Turn left (stop sign) onto 18th St N and … quickly turn right back onto Mosley Ave
(Help hint – if you drive ahead on Old Mosley Ave you will also rejoin Mosley Ave)
pass on right the entrance to Nancy Island National Historic Site (remains of HMS Nancy); drive through ‘The Strip’; our route curves right (east) as Main Street and crosses the Nottawasaga River
- … quickly … just after crossing this bridge … Turn left (north) onto River Road EAST; pass on right Zoo Park Rd; winding road; at a stop sign … our route continues ahead as Deerbrook Rd … while River Rd East turns to the left; pass on right Vigo Rd; our route is now Flos Rd 10 W
- Turn left (north) onto Crossland Rd (CR 29); cross Flos Rd 11
Help hint: the next road to the right is turn 14 …
- Turn right (east) onto Tiny / Flos Townline; pass on left Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area (parking); pass on right Ushers Rd
- Turn right (south) onto CR 6; pass on right Line 11; CR 6 merges with CR 27; cross Flos Rd 10 W; enter village of Elmvale
- Turn left (east) onto Queen Street) (CR 19)
side trip ahead for 4.3 km to visit Elmvale Jungle Zoo
side trip right (west) for 600 m for parking for hiking trails
cross Baseline Rd; route curves right to go around Orr Lake as S. Orr Lake Rd; pass on left Orr Lake Park
- Turn right (south) onto Penetanguishene Rd (Hwy 93) (traffic lights / no sign); pass through Hillsdale; cross over Hwy 400; our route is now CR 93; cross railway; cross Horseshoe Valley Rd (CR 22) in Craighurst (traffic lights)
- Turn left onto Old Barrie Road (CR11) in Dalston (stop sign) (Forbes Rd to right); cross Line 1; cross Line 2; cross Line 3 – Oro African Church (National Historic Site) at intersection; cross Line 4 in Edgar; cross Line 5; pass on left Hardwood Ski & Bike Facility; cross Line 6
- Turn right (south) onto Line 7
cross Sideroad 15 / 16
pass on right Lake Simcoe Regional Airport
Take care … you will see Hwy 11 ahead … you do NOT cross Hwy 11 on the level …
just before Hwy 11 … Turn left … the road will go uphill and curve right … using a bridge to cross Hwy 11 … the road then curves right and at the T-junction … turn left back onto Line 7
- Turn right (west) onto Ridge Rd (CR 20) at Oro Station (stop sign);
side trip ahead to Lake Country Oro-Medonte Rail Trail
pass on right Line 6; cross Line 5; cross Line 4 (also – trail crossing); cross Line 3; cross Line 2; cross Range Rd; cross Sideroad 5 / 6; pass on left Line 1; enter City of Barrie; route is now Shanty Bay Rd
- Turn left (west) onto Blake St (T-junction / stop sign / no road name sign ); Blake St becomes Dunlop St
- arrive at Barrie at Dunlop St and Bayfield St