Many of my Toronto friends remain confused about Elmvale’s location. I routinely get asked if it’s near Blue Moutain or Huntsville. The answer is well, kinda. It’s somewhere in between.
I think of Elmvale as the centre of Simcoe County. Not the cultural or economic centre (that’ll be the day!) but the actual geographical centre. We live 20 to 30 minutes from the following places: Midland, Orillia, Barrie and Wasaga Beach. Here’s my uninformed, totally biased opinion on those four hubs.
BARRIE (south of Elmvale)
- Claim to fame: nearish to Toronto. Also, where I work.
- Populationish: tough to say because it grows by 1,000 every time someone sneezes. Maybe 150,000?
- Cool stuff: surprising number of decent restaurants, Sir Games-a-lot, waterfront park, great Mayor, Georgian College
- Less cool stuff: sprawl, unreliable transit
MIDLAND (north of Elmvale)
- Claim to fame: Martyr’s Shrine and Ste. Marie Among the Hurons. Also, where I lived in my teens
- Populationish: probably about 15,000 most of the time, but 100,000 in July and August
- Cool stuff: lovely downtown, random murals, cheap real estate, Midland Cultural Centre, awesome bowling alley, proximity to Penetanguishene (another cool town)
- Less cool stuff: Lots of poverty. Also the waterfront could be nice if it didn’t have the grain elevator, lumber yard, giant mineral pile, busy road, graffiti and drugs
ORILLIA (east of Elmvale)
- Claim to fame: Casino Rama. On the way to Muskoka
- Populationish: guessing 30,000ish?
- Cool stuff: great downtown, Mariposa Market, Mariposa Folk Festival, Stephen Leacock museum, OPP headquarters, opera house
- Less cool stuff: keeps trying (unsuccessfully) to compete with Barrie – do your own thing, Orillia!
WASAGA BEACH (west of Elmvale)
- Claim to fame: duh
- Populationish: maybe 10,000 in the winter a zillion in the summer?
- Cool stuff: the beach, the kitschy stores around the beach, proximity to Collingwood (which is lovely), paintball, go carts and mermaid hotel sign
- Less cool stuff: driving through sucks. Also, noisy motorcycles zoom past my house all summer to get there.
In conclusion, if you’re planning to visit me OR Simcoe County (which you should!) there’s plenty to do. I suggest you go to all of the towns listed above, but also:
- Check out the non-town spaces – Awenda Park, Tiny Marsh (our favourite place), Minesing Wetlands, Tiny beaches, Simcoe County Rail Trail and much more.
- Visit sweet, smaller towns like Elmvale, Creemore and Coldwater.
- Do your own research. You’ll likely find far more accurate and useful information.