Leaving the children back at Days Inn, we, husband and wife, went in for a long tour of the Casino. We explored every nook and corner of the Casino and played a few slots. We were inside the Cacino buildings for 4 hours, 1 of which was spent listening to a great jazz band in the Convention centre lobby (see picture # 5). Needless to mention, we fell in love with the Casino.
Selected excerpts from Casino Rama's website:
1. Voted Favourite Casino by Toronto Sun readers every year since opening
2. Opened July 31st, 1996 Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
3. Ontario's only First Nation's commercial casino
4. 2,258 Free parking spaces
5. 192,000 square feet of fun and excitement
6. 2,300 slot machines
7. 120 Table games
8. There are 9 unique restaurants - St. Germain's Steakhouse, Rinaldo's (Italian), Couchiching Court Buffet, Willow (authentic Cantonese), Legends, Dream Catcher Sports Bar, The Noodle Bar, The Weirs and Firestarter Lounge
9. Faith Hill, Jay Leno, Diana Ross, Chicago, Olivia Newton-John, Vince Gill, Tony Bennett, Bill Cosby, Styx, Michael Bolton, Ringo Starr and many more have all performed at Casino Rama
10. Big name acts appear every week, up close and personal at Casino Rama's 5,000 - seat Entertainment Centre
11. Casino Rama is the largest single site employer of Aboriginal people in Canada with over 700 Aboriginal employees.
12. Full service Hotel - 300-luxury hotel rooms
13. Balance In Life Spa - a full service spa and health club
14. Meeting & Convention facilities - from a small intimate group to a theatre setting for 720
The Barrie Farmer's Market is held every Saturday morning at City Hall. Unlike many Farmer's Markets it is open year round.
In the spring, summer and fall there are all kinds of fruit and vegetable vendors, plus baking, preserves, some meats and a few craft stalls. In winter there is fewer fresh produce available, but there tends to be more handicrafts, baking, preserves and things.
The market opens at 8 am and finishes at 12:30pm.
There is a farmer there that sells all-natural pork products that I go out of my way to get. They serve back bacon on a bun (a Canadian specialty!) that is delicious, or you can buy some frozen meat to prepare on your own.
The covered dome is located near the harbor close to Harbor Inn Resort and is the property of the resort (Lagoon City). We found that in October people shift to playing tennis inside the covered domes and it would be difficult to play tennis here without prior booking. So prior booking is what we did. We played on two different days for a total of 4 hours.
A good pastime was playing against seniors. They applauded each of our serve (perhaps making 25 Kms / hr at best) and shot.
Those familiar with Native Canadian handicrafts will definitely know what a dream catcher is. Its a small circle with a sort of net inside that is supposed to capture people's dreams. The spirit catcher in Barrie is obviously inspired by the arts of the Native Canadians, but it is actually a work of art by a local artist. This is a massive structure that stands out along the shore of Kempenfelt Bay. The plaque says that you can make a wish and the Wish Catcher will catch it.
I don't know much about St. Andrews, although it seemed considerably more modern than the Collier United Church. It is conveniently located just off of Collier Street and doesn't really present any remarkable features compared to other churches in small Ontario towns.
Dunlop Street is sort of the main shopping and entertainment drag in Barrie (downtown Barrie that is) and, unlike Collier Street, it isn't under construction. There aren't many upscale, name brand boutiques here, but there is a considerable number of speciality stores. Lots of alcohol-related establishments and knick-knack shops. It interesting to walk along for a bit, but unless you're into paraphenelia its unlikely to retain your interest for long.
Collier Street, when I visited Barrie, was largely under construction (repaving) so I can tell exactly what it is like when normal life return. Nevertheless, I was quite interested by the rather unique (in Barrie) architecture of the building housing the Rinaldo Spa. It was a beautiful white wood structure with a pretty stone courtyard out back. As for their services, I have no idea...
I don't really know why I photographed this... I think its because the library is in the style that you so often find in York Region, a sort of bureaucratic architectural style in which all new monoliths are constructed. I like to think of it as "ugly monstruism". You be the judge....
There isn't anything all that spectacular about Barrie town hall. Its a modern building with little charm, but it is somewhere that you might visit in the summer, for the farmers' market, or in the winter for the skating rink in the pond in the centre of the courtyard.
The sign by this church was quite new, but it was very obvious to me, just from looking down the street, that this was quite an old structure, probably dating from the first expansion of the town. I wasn't let down. Although much of the church has been restored, its look is quite typical of southern Ontario town churches and originally dates from 1864, when it was a Wesleyan (Methodist) church.
The MacLaren Art Centre is housed in a beautiful modern building in what is otherwise an uninteresting and sometimes ugly part of Barrie. If you are coming along Collier street you're sure to notice the fake Rodin piece at the corner. There is a large shop attached to the gallery, which specializes in both European art and local art (from Georgian college and other local institutes). I wasn't able to go inside, as I visited Barrie on Sunday before Sunday openings. Nevertheless, the Gallery appears to have a focus on modern art and photography, and a specific interest in East European artists.
I mentioned in my introduction to Barrie that towns and cities like this were profoundly changed by the World Wars. It should be unsurprising, then that there is a fairly large and promonent monument to those who fought and died for King and Country over there. The masonry and design are quite impressive, especially the white granite (?). The park itself is not all that impressive, and it seems to be a hang out for lots of local folk who simply sit around and chat. There is also a small artillery piece nearby, although far enough from the memorial to be considered a separate exhibit.
Heritage Park is an obvious example of great urban redevelopment. It is quite obvious that this area is still under construction at the edges, but this hardly affects your enjoyment of the park and its large numbers of sculpted gardens and benches. There are a few vendors for snacks here, but for the most part it is meant to be a place where you find your own entertainment, preferably with the friends or family you've come to. Don't mind the large numbers of ducks and geese here, they tend not to bother you if you don't bother them.
Kempenfelt Bay is a finger of water that comes off of Lake Simcoe, the largest lake directly north of the city of Toronto. I decided to put it as a separate tip from Heritage Park because the two are so beautiful in the late summer temperatures. The Bay is a large body of water in which there are plenty of fish and on whose calm waters the sun and clouds are mirrored almost perfectly. This is one of the largest cities in or near cottage country, so it shouldn't surprise the visitor that there are lots of private motorboats and fishermen (and fisherwomen) who come here to enjoy mild summer weekends. If you've come here without a boat, its possible to take a cruise on the large river boat (pictured below) that leaves from the southernmost edge of Heritage Park.
As a small point of interest, Richard Kempenfelt was an 18th century British rear-admiral who saw many battles in the West and East Indies.
Victoria Day (24th of May holiday weekend) and Canada Day (July 1st) are the two main times for official fireworks. This year the city of Barrie had displays, and it was exciting to watch them burst over the bay. For the 24th of May weekend we were in my parents condominium apartment watching them, but for July 1st we were out on the bay on the Serendipity (See my tip for Boat Trips).
There are often neighbourhood fireworks, but the ones done at Centennial Beach in Barrie are really spectacular, and professionally done.
If you aren't seeing the fireworks, but own a pet, please make sure that he/she is inside, or in a safe place because its pretty nerve-wracking for animals those loud bangs. A pet that bolts from you could easily run off and get hit by a car, or take off and get lost. Too many animals are traumatized by fireworks.