Nine Mile Portage Heritage Trail
The Nine Mile Portage Heritage Trail is a multi-use recreational trail running between Memorial Square in Barrie and Fort Willow Heritage Site and Conservation Area in Springwater Township. Brochures are available at City of Barrie Facilities, Tourism Barrie, the Township of Springwater, and the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority office.
This new recreation trail is based on an ancient overland route created by the early aboriginal people of our area. One of the oldest known European records of the route appears on a 1688 map by Italian Vincenzo Coronelli labelled as 'Portage de dix Lieuel'. This portage came to be known as the 'Nine Mile Portage' by the British Military, which employed it strategically during the War of 1812. After the war, use continued until the first roads and the railway were established. The old portage then fell into disuse and eventually the land was sold to settlers as the concessions were developed. But it was never completely forgotten.
Please see the 'Downloads' section for additional historical information.
The Nine Mile Portage Heritage Trail will be a vehicle of connection: past with present, water with land, urban with rural, recreation with discovery.
Opened in 2003, the initial route mainly follows sidewalks and roadways. In time, it is intended to develop the Trail to follow the original historic route as closely as possible. At all times, regardless of the stage of development, the rights of private property owners must be strictly observed. No right-of-way exists along most of the historic route of the Nine Mile Portage.
Find your way on to the trail: two sign markers will help you find your way as you walk or bike along the Nine Mile Portage Heritage Trail:
To Downtown Barrie: follow highway signs to exit at Essa Road North, Dunlop Street East or Bayfield Street South, all of which will take you to the waterfront and downtown area. Parking is available downtown. Memorial Square is located at the north end of Kempenfelt Bay, between Dunlop Street West and Lakeshore Drive, and contains Barrie’s Veterans Monument. Start the trail from the Nine Mile Portage heritage plaque located in Memorial Square.
To Historic Fort Willow: From either Highway 90 to the south or Highway 26 to the north at Minesing, turn onto George Johnston Road (or County Road 28). Follow George Johnson Road and turn west onto Portage Trail Road. Watch for the thin road sign identifying Portage Road. It is an unpaved road located by the CP rail line. Follow it around until you see the entrance to Historic Fort Willow on the west side. If you cross over the railway tracks you’ve gone too far.
From Ontario at large: Barrie is located about an hour north of Toronto and is easily reached by Highway 400, the largest highway connecting both cottage country and the greater Toronto region to the Barrie area.
Organizations and Resources
This web page is compiled through the efforts of the Nine Mile Portage Working Group, composed of the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, Friends of Historical Fort Willow, Township of Springwater, Simcoe County Trails, Simcoe County Historical Association and the Rotary Club of Barrie, who generously sponsored trail signs, granite markers and interpretive signage, and granite benches. Special mention to Keith Bacon for his supplied reseach and resources.