Simcoe County Museum
Simcoe County Museum tells the county’s fascinating and storied past, with carefully recreated key historical moments and engaging interactive exhibits and displays of key individuals.
Located on over 120 hectares of a forested parkland just north of the city of Barrie, Simcoe County Museum showcases indoor and outdoor exhibits. Simcoe County Museum is surrounded by heritage buildings that were preserved and relocated from various places throughout Simcoe County. Within the museum are five different galleries that contain over 30,000 donated artifacts from various eras.
Head to the Ross Channen Gallery for a look at the large and impressive replica of a Wendat longhouse, which is a traditional Indigenous construction. Next, walk through what feels like Barrie’s Main Street around the turn of the 20th century, with displays of prominent business that operated during that time, such as hat makers and hardware stores. The Living and Working Gallery features artifacts that show how the things transformed for local people from the early 1890s to the 1970s. The Natural Resources Gallery celebrates the diverse landscapes of the region, including the dramatic escarpment, lush forests, clean waters and sandy beaches. These natural resources have sustained the people who call Simcoe County home and will continue to with dedicated conservation efforts.
For up-to-date information and details on the Simcoe County Museum, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.
Some things to do may not be available due to COVID-19.
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More about Simcoe County Museum
Recognizing the rich contribution of Simcoe County, The Simcoe County Museum was created by Simcoe County's Women's Institute in 1928. At that time, artifacts from the region were collected and displayed in the Barrie Library. As the collection grew, the community recognized they needed to find a new venue to house the items. In the 1950s, Simcoe County took over management of the growing collection, and in 1962 it was moved to its present location just north of downtown Barrie in Minesing, on Highway 26. With over 300 acres, there’s sufficient room to house the 16 heritage and display buildings and over 30,000 artifacts.
The most direct route to the museum is from Highway 400 North. Exit north on Bayfield Street in Barrie, which turns into Highway 26. Follow this for about 10 km and turn left at the junction of highway 26 and 27. The Museum is the second lane on the left hand side at 1151 Highway 26.
Outside of the museum, ten 19th century heritage buildings have been preserved and are on display. Explore an early settler church, an old log cabin, the 1870s Gilford Train Station, an old ice house and the 1900 Minesing Schoolhouse. (which was featured in the beloved Anne of Green Gables movie). Additional display barns feature a variety of antique farm tools and old machinery, including a 1922 Erie Steam Shovel and Caterpillar Sixty.
In winter, the museum’s outdoor 1 km skate trail is a wonderful additional feature on the site, against the forest backdrop. Lace up your skates and loop around the frozen trail for a small fee. Just check the weather conditions in advance, as the skate trail may not be in service in poor weather. The museum’s website will provide more details, including hours of operation for the skate trail. Alternatively, opt to go snowshoeing through the beautiful forested grounds.
The main showcase facility of Simcoe County Museum is accessible, and a number of the outdoor heritage and display buildings and some walking trails are wheelchair accessible. Contact the museum in advance of your visit so special efforts can be made to accommodate guests.
Photo credit: Shaughna Crew