This section describes the ecological, demographic, and economic features of Simcoe County in the context of the Toronto-related region. For the purpose of this section, Simcoe County includes Barrie and Orillia although those cities are administratively separate from the county.
Simcoe County includes several important physiographic features -- the Canadian Shield to the north, the Oak Ridges Moraine to the south, the Niagara Escarpment to the west, and Lake Simcoe to the east. The Oak Ridges Moraine spans 160 km from the Trent River in the east to the Niagara Escarpment in the west. It is a dividing line for watersheds draining south into Lake Ontario and north towards Georgian Bay, Lake Simcoe and the Trent River, and is critical for the region's fresh water supply. The moraine covers a small area of South Simcoe County in the Townships of Adjala-Tosorontio and the Town of New Tecumseth. (See Map 1.)
The Township of Ramara, to the north of Lake Simcoe east of Lake Couchiching, sits on Canadian Shield granite bedrock. Severn and Tay contain undisturbed forests. The interior and south of the County is made up of farmland and provincially and locally designated wetlands.
There are three watersheds in Simcoe County (see Map 2):
- The Nottawasaga, which drains north into Georgian Bay;
- the Humber, which drains south to Lake Ontario;
- the Simcoe Basin, which drains into Lake Simcoe from all sides.
While most of the land area of Simcoe County lies in the Nottawasaga watershed, approximately half of the county's population lives within the Simcoe Basin. The County's largest population centres are located on the shores of Georgian Bay, Severn Sound, Lake Simcoe, and Lake Couchiching.