Barrie and Balm Beach

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On Sunday, we took the 400 to Barrie, 90 kilometers North of Toronto, for no other good reason than to see what the city looked like. As we got further and further from the Greater Toronto Area, the scenery began to change—less outlets, more farms. By the time we arrived in Barrie, we were in a different world.

The skyline was picturesque, set against Lake Simcoe. However, the city felt much smaller and quieter than we had expected, especially around the city center. We ended up grabbing breakfast at one of the many malls in the suburb where apparently the entire population of Barrie was shopping before Labour Day.

We then headed West, to the Southern Georgian Bay, and entered the Township of Tiny. It turned out to be bigger and busier than its name suggested, mostly because it’s popular with cottagers.

Balm Beach, the first beach we stopped at, seemed to be stuck somewhere in the 1980s with a few old-fashioned beach toys stores along the sand. Feng and I bought an ice-cream and a drink and the total came to $1.75—not quite Toronto prices! On the beach, people played volley-ball or were reading and not a single person had a cell phone in hand. Canadian take the outdoors seriously and most cars in the parking lot either had a canoe strapped to the roof or a boat in tow.

You can see the complete set of Ontario travels on Flickr.


Grass under the Pavement

Barrie Waterfront

Barrie Waterfront

Ron Baird's Spirit Catcher

Living Dangerously

Waiting for a Prey

Cars and Canoe

Sparrow on a Wire

Corn Fields

Community Mailboxes

Rocks by the Lake

Adirondack Chairs

Garage Sale

Jug City

By Balm Beach

Three Rocks, Three Boats

The Beach Store

Georgian Bay

Yes, Weird Tan, I Know

Balm Beach


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. I’m not very impressed by Ontario’s countryside. It seems so… flat! I don’t know, I’ve always thought that it looked a bit like Vermont (which I deeply love) but I guess I was wrong. Rural Ontario is, on my mind, a bit like rural New York State : grey and a bit sad, after all…

    • It was a greyish day but it didn’t look that bad to me. I’ve seen nicer places in Ontario though and in upstate New York. Look at my post on Lake Placid about a month ago… it was a lovely place!

  2. Salut Zhu,

    Wow, that is a quiet Labor day weekend. Such a lazy spot.
    Where are the beachfront cookouts or beach volly??

    Though I enjoyed the quaint views like the beace store or the colorful but expensive chairs.

  3. Ha! I have a pair of Merrell river sandals which, I found comfortable wearing even when I am not wading in a river, so I wore them the whole summer. Thus, I think I have the same tan lines as you do on my feet. 🙂

  4. It looks like a charming and quiet place to spend the end of the summer… but I could imagine that the water was quite cold, did you test it? 🙂 By the way, I love the picture you took from the sparrow on the wire!

  5. The three townships Tiny, Tay, and Flos were named for three dogs owned by Lady Sarah Maitland, wife of the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada in the 1820s. So the dog was Tiny, even if the township isn’t.

  6. Hi Zhu! Places like Barrie and Guelph are our favorites too because you can be close to the city but still feel like you travelled somewhere totally new. We are planning to do this 4 day bike trip around lake Simcoe but I don’t know when that will happen…

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