Although this may sound like a warning or danger tip, for fun lovers this can also be part of enjoyment.
Barrie is the capital of touristic Simcoe county. In late spring, summers and fall, the urban dwellers of Toronto and Southwestern regions head north for various destinations around Barrie, especially to Wasaga Beach and lakefronts. Highway 400 from Toronto to Barrie becomes very crowded in the morning and then later in the day.
We saw a major traffic jam on this Highway during summer when we were going to Sudbury in 2005. What we later found is that people start early for going to the region. On a typical weekend, they may start as early as at noon on Fridays (i.e. taking the 2nd half off work and schools).
In late fall and winters, driving conditions are treacherous. Snow squalls are common and roads become very slippery. We had our first taste of heavy snow fall while driving back from Lagoon City to Orillia to Barrie in late October 2006. Lake effect snow can make driving difficult for people having not much experience of snowy conditions.
While the ice is really thick, and the fish huts are out on the lake, the ice has to buckle somewhere, and it is never safe to be too close to these pressure cracks.
This is a pressure crack along the north side of Kempenfelt Bay.
One of the great things about being beside a lake is the chance to go out on it skating, ice sailing, or ice fishing... but one of the most dangerous things IS the ice's stability.
Every winter we hear of people drowining as their car/truck/snowmobile goes through the ice, and far too often we hear of their rescuers drowning too, in the attempt.
The ice is a fickle creature - and Kempenfelt Bay does freeze enough to allow fish-huts to go out - up to 30,000 of them - a small city! But when the temperatures fluxuate, it causes the ice to soften. Strong winds and pressure cracks can create severe problems.
Dec 23,2004 the ice is starting to form along the shore, and there are lots of ducks and geese who haven't flown south yet. The sad thing is when one of those birds gets his/her feet frozen in the ice.
Was going to make this a transportation tip but think it's more a word of warning!
Barrie was rumoured to have several city planners laying out street designs, and instead of picking one, they took all the plans and just taped them together, so that there are some very odd "dog legs" intersections.
Some problem intersections:
The intersection of Ross St, Toronto St & Sophia.
Another odd one is High Street and Bradford St. connecting up to Dunlop St.
There are streets that change names such as Penetang St turning into Napier St. and Hwy 11 (Which is now actually County Road 4) becomes Yonge Street, then Burton Avenue, you turn onto Essa Road which then becomes Bradford Street, which you then have to go onto Dunlop Street which turns into Blake Street (where Collier St and Dundonald St meet) and then into Hwy 93 until you meet the junction with Hwy 11!
And that is just a small sampling of Barrie confusion.
I once was asked for directions as I was walking on High Street on how to get to Bayfield Street.
"Ok, continue up High St to the top. Turn right on Park St. Go to the end, turn left on Toronto St to the lights. Turn right onto Ross St and then make an immediate left onto Sophia St. The next set of lights is Bayfield Street, turn left."
The couple looked at each other, then looked at me and the husband said, "Who designed this city?"
These days with global warming and all, the ice on Kempenfelt Bay doesn't freeze as solidly as it used to.
If you insist on going out on the ice keep your wits about you and don't take senseless risks or do stupid things to put your own safety and that of others in jeopardy.
Even before global warming we had our share of potential Darwin Award winners out on the ice.