A very large freshwater lake known
as the ice fishing capital of the world
The Lake Simcoe area is the closest region of Central Ontario to the city of Toronto. Stretching from the shores of this large lake south to Highway # 7 its southern boundaries really fall within the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). In fact I would even go as far as to say that the whole region is part of the GTA nowadays as all listed communities are really bedroom communities of Toronto and have only grown so quickly as regularly scheduled public transportation services have been implemented.
This is another of the most rapidly growing regions of the province as communities that were little more than small towns have seemingly sprung up to vibrant cities literally overnight. While all listed communities are technically not within the traditional Lake Simcoe region for the purposes of organizing this site I have included some within this region.
I have also included a small section of the southern shore of Georgian Bay in this region around the Towns of Midland and Penetanguishene as locals do consider them part of the greater Lake Simcoe area.
Communities that I have listed within this region include:
The region is particularly appealing as it contains rolling hills, small lakes and its northern reaches are part of the traditional “cottage country” for Southern Ontarians.
Lake Simcoe itself is a very large freshwater lake that provides a multitude of year round activities
- The City of Brampton, population 525,000
- The City of Markham, population 302,000
- The City of Vaughn, population 289,000
- The Town of Richmond Hill, population 186,000
- The City of Barrie, population 136,000
- The Town of Newmarket, population 80,000
- The Town of Newmarket, population 80,000
- The City of Orillia, population 31,000
. Considered by many to be another “Great Lake” it is connected to Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay via the Trent-Severn Waterway bypassing lake Erie and the Niagara Falls.
Map of the Lake Simcoe region
Getting to the Lake Simcoe Ontario region:
From Southern Ontario there are three main routes into the region depending on your starting point and final destination.
Toronto West and Western Ontario
Take Highway 401 east until Highway 400 North. Note that Highway 400 is the main route into Northern Ontario from the south so traffic build up is routine. On Fridays during the peak summer months expect LONG delays. Leave early if possible.
From Downtown Toronto and Toronto East
Take the DVP (Don Valley parkway)North which turns in to Highway 404. Highway 404 ends after Newmarket after which time you can:
From Eastern Ontario
- turn left at Green Line East then turn right and head north on Leslie Street.
- turn right on Green Line East then turn left and head north on Woodbine Avenue.
Take Highway 401 West until reaching the Town of Whitby. Exit on Brock Street (Highway #12) and head north. Continue on Highway #12 into the Lake Simcoe region.
From Northern Ontario:
Take either Highway #12 or Highway #11 South depending upon your starting location. At the City of Orillia you can either:
- Travel along the eastern shore of the lake on Highway #12
- Travel along the western shore of the lake on Highway #11
Flying into the region is not really an option as it is serviced by Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
By Public Transport:
As the population of the region has exploded the provinces main commuter rail line Go Transit has been extended to reach many of the larger communities. Routes are regular and fairly inexpensive. Visit www.gotransit.com
for more information as to schedules and fares.
It is also possible to travel by trail on the country’s main rail carrier: Via Rail as it makes its first stop north of Toronto in the hamlet a Washago, a small community northeast of Orillia at the northern end of Lake Couchiching, a shallow northern extension of the large lake itself. Visit www.viarail.ca
for more information.
The Ontario Northland Railway’s Northlander previously serviced the Lake Simcoe region by making a regular stop in Washago on its way further north to Cochrane. As of Sept. 28, 2012 this service was permanently discontinued as the Provincial government stopped all subsidies therby effectively making this route extremely unprofitable.
Please disregard any information you may see on the web with respect to this service as it is outdated.
The region is also well serviced by bus as the following carriers have regularly scheduled routes:
The region is one of the most popular year round destinations in the province for local inhabitants.
At one time the area directly around the lake was the premier cottage destination of choice. As the population has increased dramatically as most of the area is now considered within the GTA commuter range this has changed somewhat and cottage country has shifted further north.
This however has not diminished the regions attractiveness. Lake Simcoe and the attached Lake Couchiching are fishing destinations second to non all year round. Excellent in summer they are also at the centre of the province’s ice-fishing industry and attract visitors year round.
The Barrie area also has some of the best skiing resorts the province has to offer
. Other activities popular in the region include but are not limited:
- Dog Sledding
Additionally the region boasts attractions such as:
- Casino Rama
- The Holland Marsh
- Sainte Marie among the Hurons
- Martyr’s Shrine
This region is for avid outdoor enthusiasts. Warmer than most parts of “cottage country” the summer vacation season extends deeper into the fall than most areas a little further north. Even then, winter activities make this region a popular year round destination.
Lake Simcoe itself is world famous for its fishing industry as it has a long history of landed fish being of trophy size. Not a small lake by any means it is also a boater’s paradise and is one of the busiest sections of the 386 kilometere (240 mile) long Trent Severn Waterway.
Many local inhabitants still spend the majority of their vacations in the region and it is well worth a visit if you have extra time in your plans and would rather relax in a lakeside cottage than visiting the regular tourist stops. To see if a trip to the Lake Simcoe regions fits into your plans visit my pages below for more information.
Lake Simcoe Attractions
Awenda Provincial Park
Jutting deep into Georgian Bay at the tip of the Penetanguishene Peninsula this tiny provincial park is one of the best spots in the Province to enjoy some of the extreme beauty the Province has to offer. For more omnformation visit my Awenda Provincial Park
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