By 1869, Barrie was the county seat of Simcoe in the Township of Vespra with a population 3,000. During World War II, the Royal Canadian Navy named a Flower-class corvette HMCS Barrie.On 7 September 1977, a private aircraft dropped altitude to 500 feet (152 m) in dense fog, struck the 1,000-foot (305 m) CKVR-TV tower, killing all five on the plane and destroying the tower and antenna.In 1846, the population was about 500, mostly from England, Ireland and Scotland.
Barrie is on the southern edge of Ontario's snowbelt region, where lake-effect snow, primarily from Georgian Bay, falls throughout the winter.
An average of 238 centimetres (94 in) of snow falls annually, with at least 50% due to the lake effect.
At its inception, Barrie was an establishment of houses and warehouses at the foot of the Nine Mile Portage from Kempenfelt Bay to Fort Willow, an aboriginal transportation route that existed centuries before Europeans came to Simcoe County.
The portage linked Kempenfelt Bay through Willow Creek, connecting Lake Simcoe to the Nottawasaga River which flows into Georgian Bay off Lake Huron. During the war, the city became a supply depot for British forces, and in addition, the Nine Mile Portage was adopted by the British military as a key piece of their supply line which provided a strategic path for communication, personnel, and vital supplies and equipment to and from Fort Willow and Georgian Bay / Lake Huron.
In late spring and summer months, the Barrie area is known for heavy thunderstorm activity, due to its location within a convergence of breezes originating from Georgian Bay, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.