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About Essa/angus


So you have decided to move to Essa!

Named after the daughter of an Indian Chief, the Township of Essa was first sureyed in 1820. It's motto is "The Place Where Town and Country Meet", and it is located less than an hour's drive north of Toronto, in the heart of Simcoe County.

Essa is made up of three major communities: Angus, Baxter and Thornton, as well as the smaller hamlets of Colwell, Egbert, Ivy and Utopia.

Read more below.

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Angus is the commercial and retail hub for the township, and has the largest population. It sits adjacent to Canadian Forces Base Borden, one of the largest CAF and military training bases, and home to a variety of other military and Defence Team organizations.

Base Borden employs more than 3200 military personnel and approximately 1500 civilians, providing the greatest employment opportunity for residents in this area of Simcoe County. The Base also trains some 20,000 military personnel annually. It covers 21,000 acres of land, including a 6,000 acre training area.

CFB Borden was created to train more troops for Canada’s contribution to the First World War. In the summer of 1916 Camp Borden was officially opened, and thousands of soldiers trained in Borden. More than half of the soldiers who served in the Canadian Army overseas during WWI and WWII received some training at the base. Camp Borden is the birth place of Canada's Air Force, and the site of the first purpose build aircraft hangar, a National Historic Site. Both Army and Air Training continued at Camp Borden after WWII, and in 1966 the Army and Air Force establishments integrated and Camp Borden become Canadian Forces Base Borden. Today, CFB Borden is the only base that trains Army, Air Force and Navy Personnel. It is home to one of Canada's largest Military Museums, which holds a significant collection of WWI, WWII and post-war armoured vehicles, trucks and aircraft. Outside the museum, the 'Tank Park' contains armoured vehicles and artillery pieces from Canada as well as other countries around the world dating back to WWI. The Air Force Annex contains many interesting artifacts detailing the history of Air Forces in Borden. Inside the hangar you will find the AVRO 504K aircraft, the oldest flyable aeroplane in Canada, as well others on display both inside and out.

The town of Thornton developed during the 1820s, and in 1833 was established as Henry's Corners after early settler John Henry. He was the first teacher, then the schoolmaster, and later became the postmaster. The community became Thornton in 1854 after Henry Thornton, who owned a grist mil, saw mill and planning mill. While several historical homes still stand, there are two subdivisions that have been built within the hamlet in the last decade or so. The Thornton Crossing Plaza is home to a variety of businesses and shops. Thornton is home to a stretch of the Trans Canada Trail, popular with cyclists and hikers. The centre of Thornton, at Highways 21 and 27, feature the historic Queen’s Hotel, which was constructed in 1852. It was recently a famous steak-house and has since reopened as a vegetarian restaurant. Thornton is also home to the well known Original Flag Store, and the popular destination on hot summer nights, the Original Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe.

Nature lovers will enjoy the Tiffin Centre for Conservation, a 300+ acre property that is a four-season destination for environmental recreation and education. It features a variety of indoor and outdoor venues that may be rented for meetings, picnics, parties and weddings. Camping is also available for community groups and clubs. It is a spectacular place for a walk, or to bring your gear and bike, cross-country ski or snowshoe on 17 km of looped trails that meander through a mixture of wetlands, forests, open meadows and ancient lake beds. In the Spring, there is a working sugarbush for a sampling of maple syrup!

Essa is home to an extraordinary tribute to its agricultural roots, the Essa Agriplex. Spanning several acres, the Agriplex hosts numerous events throughout the year, but is especially famous for the annual Barrie Fall Fair, a four-day fun filled event. Visitors will find a variety of livestock displays and shows, homecrafts, vendors, truck and tractor pulls, and of course a demolition derby and midway. The Agriplex also hosts the annual Canadian Draft Horse Exhibition each summer, a two-day event showcasing the best of the giant horse breeds with displays and shows.

Helping preserve the Nottawasaga River, which is the life blood of the community, is the focal point of the Township. There is an an annual Community Tree Plant, which helps sustain the pristine river conditions.

The Nottawasaga River is popular with anglers too, and home to the annual Essa Salmon Festival and Riverbank Derby, held each September. The Derby brings visitors from across Central Ontario to take part in the wonderful fishing conditions.

Utopia is a small hamlet of about 100 people. It is home to the Utopia Conservation Area, a 50-acre back-to-nature space. That's where you can find a unique, 140+ year old historic gristmill, called Bell's Gristmill. Community volunteers are hoping to restore the Gristmill and preserve it for future generations.

Essa Township boasts a variety of trails, including the Thornton-Cookstown Trans Canada Trail. It offers 14 kilometres which runs between the villages of Thornton and Cookstown, meandering through green pastures and forest, and across the Cookstown Creek.

There are several golf courses for the links lover, including the world class courses of Bear Creek and Tangle Creek.

Skiiers can have fun at Snow Valley Ski Resort, which offers snowboarding, snowtubing, and snowshoeing along with downhill skiing.

Although primarily an agricultural area, Essa Township also has a bustling service industry as well as some industrial manufacturing plants within its borders.

Residents of Essa are never far from health care too, with Royal Victoria Hospital a short drive away in Barrie, and Stevenson Memorial Hospital located in Alliston to the south.

And with many beautiful rivers, picturesque landscapes and convenient access to major cities, Essa Township provides a great place to live and work for its residents.