Barrie is a city in Central Ontario, positioned on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay, the western arm of Lake Simcoe. The city is located geographically within Simcoe County, however it is a politically independent single-tier municipality. It is part of the historically significant Huronia region of Central Ontario, and is within the northern part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, a densely populated and industrialized region of Ontario. As of the 2016 census, the city's population was 141,434 making it the 34th largest in Canada in terms of population proper. The city itself has seen significant growth in recent decades due to its emergence as a bedroom community, and its relatively close proximity to the city of Toronto. Barrie is situated approximately 86.6 km from the Toronto Pearson International Airport and 166.6 km from the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, representing the city's highly centralized and historically strategic geographical orientation and its ease of access to major centres and airports across the region.
The Barrie area was first settled during the War of 1812 as a key supply depot for British forces. It would be named twenty years later for Sir Robert Barrie, who consistently commanded forces through the region. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Barrie's emergence as a bedroom community for the city of Toronto grew in prominence, and its economy would be wrapped around the education, healthcare, information technology and service sectors. Being located in the climatically deterrent snowbelt region of southern Ontario, Barrie is notorious for its deluging snow squalls in the winter. In the summer, its position within a convergence of breezes originating from the surrounding Great Lakes can provoke intense thunderstorms, some of which defying severe limits.
Barrie has emerged as a popular tourist destination in Central Ontario, known as "The Gateway to Cottage Country", and is easily accessed by all forms of transportation. In the winter months, Barrie flocks with skiers and snowboarders as they attempt the slopes at nearby hills Snow Valley, Horseshoe Resort, Mount St. Louis Moonstone and Blue Mountain. Barrie also has several festivals and other events held in the city centre during the same season. Throughout the humid summer months, Barrie transforms into a city of gardens as visitors and locals alike jump to the waterfront to bask on the beaches, swim in the waters and boat in the lake. The city's historic downtown core also comes to life in the warmer months as shops, restaurants and boutiques all flourish with people.