Fort Willow Conservation Area - NVCA

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NVCA > Recreation > Conservation Areas > Fort Willow

​​Historic Fort Willow ​Conservation Area​

Strategically located as a supply depot during the War of 1812, the Fort Willow area was also actively used for centuries by First Nations, the fur trade and French explorers as part of a major transportation route known as the Nine Mile Portage.

Restorations and archaeological investigations have located and outlined the former buildings used by the soldiers. Information kiosks provide a thorough history of the area's past use and how its location helped ensure the geographical boundaries of Canada today. 

Owing to their importance in the development of our nation, Fort Willow and the Nine Mile Portage are recognized​ as both provincial and national historic sites.

The laid-back, peaceful environment that is enjoyed by visitors today is a definite change from years gone by. The many Monarch butterflies that call this area home during the summer make for a magical visit as they prepare for their journey south.

Fort Willow and the Nine Mile Portage are part of ​the Route Champlain. ​​Information about the history of Fort Willow is available in French​ on the Friends of Fort Willow website. 

​Held in September each year,  the festival brings to life the daily activities of British Canadian soldiers, camp followers and indigenous people living in ​Simcoe County in 1812. 

Recreational Visitors​

Hike the surrounding trail network - including the Ganaraska, North Simcoe Rail and Trans Canada trails, and plan to have lunch at the Fort. Amenities include picnic tables and sheltered rest areas are available for family and group use. Washrooms​ will be open for events and pavilion bookings. 

Keep an eye on our events page for information on events at Fort Willow, including the annual Festival at the Fort each September, featuring re-enactments of the War of 1812.

Parking Fees

  • Daily Parking - $10.00 + HST per vehicle
  • Annual Parking - $71.00​ + HST per vehicle (valid for all NVCA-operated conservation areas)
  • For payment options and details, see parking fees.

Your parking fees help offset the cost of maintaining and improving NVCA conservation areas, and helps fund volunteer groups like the Friends of Fort Willow.

Operating Hours

  • Dawn to dusk, daily

Getting There

  • ADDRESS: 2714 Grenfel R., Springwater Township (map​)
  • GPS: X-503000, Y-4916321
  • DIRECTIONS: From the City of Barrie, go west on County Rd. 90 (Dunlop St.) to George Johnston Road. Turn right (north) and travel for 8 km. Turn left onto Portage Road and travel for 3 km to the front gates.

Facility Rentals

The Bernie Longson Memorial Pavilion is a lovely post-and-beam structure that may be rented for events such as family or corporate picnics or for a rustic wedding ceremony​. Contact us at weddings​ or 705-424-1479 for more information on renting our facilities.

The entire Fort may also be rented for community activities such as Guide or Scout activity days. Contact us at or 705-424-1479 if you are interested.

2020 Strategic Manage​ment Plan

The Fort Willow Conservation Area is a significant historical site within the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority watershed. This site was originally used by local Indigenous peoples, followed by fur traders, explorers, military and ​eventually European settlers.

This plan will highlight the significant contributions from local partners and will lay out recommendations on the development of the site for the next 5 years as well as a template for annual work plans to be developed in partnership between the Friends of Historic Fort Willow and NVCA.

2020 Fort Willow Master Plan.pdf

Friends of Fort Willow

Festival at Fort Willow - 2011 - 41.jpgThe Friends of Historic Fort Willow are volunteers working to preserve the original site and its reconstructed features and promote the historical, educational and recreational activities happening at the fort. 

Visit the Friends of Fort Willow website to learn more.