Barrie, Ontario Tourism and Events
When the town of Barrie, Ontario was founded, it was simply a smattering of warehouses and homes located at the Nine Mile Portage’s foot. However, its roots are deep in history. During the 1800s, Barrie held a portion of the Underground Railroad, which many slaves from America used to gain passage into Canada. Once the Summer tourist season is underway, a lot of performances and activities begin, allowing tourists to see just how much Barrie revolves around the arts.
Live Performance Companies
Numerous live performance companies call Barrie, Ontario home. The Georgian College that houses the Huronia Symphony and the Gryphon Theatre are two of such performance companies. The Theatre by the Bay is hosted by MacLaren Art Centre. There is also Grove Park Home where the On Stage Performance Group practices; however, this group mainly performs in Cookstown, Ontario. The lists of performance companies goes on and on. More companies include Kempenfelt Community Players, Strolling Youth Players, and the Talk is Free Theatre.
Art Galleries and Studios
In addition to live performing arts, Barrie is also a town that is geared around art galleries and studios. On Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend, tourists can take a studio tour of the area. This tour, known as Images Studio Tour, showcases the work of over 25 artists. This self-guided tour lets visitors explore the working studios of various artists, which allows them to see textile arts, fashion creations, paintings, pottery, and handcrafted jewelry.
Barrie is known for its many outstanding sculptures. One of the most well-known is the “Spiritcatcher,” which sits on the waterfront. The previously mentioned MacLaren Art Centre supports visual arts created in not only Barrie, but also the entire county of Simcoe. This gallery is responsible for Art City, which is a project that has prompted the installation of various large sculptures throughout the city, usually on the waterfront or in parks.
MacLaren Art Centre
Located on Barrie’s Mulcaster Street, MacLaren Art Centre consists of three galleries that house the works of both Canadian and American artists. Besides art collections, it includes many other amenities tourists appreciate, such as a gift shop, Radio Cafe, children’s programs, community art projects, and film nights.
And in the Lakeshore Mews area, two recently new, extremely diverse galleries have opened–Awkward Gallery and Gary Owen Gallery. While the Awkward Gallery consists of contemporary art, the Gary Owen Gallery focuses on original art local to the region. In Barrie’s downtown area, Lakeshore Mews is considered to be the gallery hub of the city.
Downtown Community Theatre
The Downtown Community Theatre of Barrie sits at the former site of Soctiabank in the Five Points area, which is located in downtown Barrie. In the Fall of 2008, The Downtown Community Theatre underwent renovations for community groups, like the Talk is Free Theatre, to have interim use of this theatre. As is stands, this theatre consists of seating that can hold 120 people. Eventually, the Downtown Community Theatre will expand after completing a final renovation costing millions of dollars.
Stay tuned for upcoming events at the Barrie Event Centre and throughout Ontario, Canada