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Exploring Orillia, Ontario, Canada

Susan resides in Ontario, Canada, with her husband, one of three sons and their Newfoundland dog.

Orillia and Some of Its History

Orillia, Ontario, Canada is located in southern Ontario on two connected lakes named Couchiching and Simcoe. In 1867 (same birth year as Canada) the Village of Orillia was founded, later becoming a town in 1875 and a city in 1969. In the 1600s, French colonialist and explorer Samuel de Champlain visited Orillia and at Lake Couchiching Park, there was a bronze sculpture monument in his honor. It was removed a few years for maintenance and for Champlain's role in the history of relations with indigenous people. Decisions to reinstall or remove the statue entirely are still being debated.

orillia-birthplace-to-gordon-lightfoot

Interesting Facts About Orillia

  • In 1902 Orillia had the first municipal hydroelectric transmission plant in North America.
  • In 1936, the town of Orillia printed its own money.
  • Orillia means border, shore or bank in Spanish. The city's name was chosen after being suggested by lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, Sir Peregrine Maitland, who had served in Spain.
  • Couchiching in Ojibwe means "Inlet", Lake Couchiching means "Lake of Many Winds."

Orillia

Ontario Hospital School

Ontario Hospital School

Orillia Asylum

  • The Orillia Asylum was originally called Orillia Asylum for Idiots. They did, however, change the name to Ontario Hospital School and in 1974 it was renamed Huronia Regional Centre.
  • In 1960 there were approximately 2,800 developmentally challenged residents housed here.
  • In 1987 the government started closing these types of facilities and by 2009 the HRC was closed.
  • Currently, the Ontario Provincial Police Academy is using the property, but it is for sale with a price tag of 6.5 million dollars.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)

In 1995 the General Headquarters for the Ontario Provincial Police opened its doors in Orillia, allowing all bureaus to be in one building for the first time in history.

Ontario Provincial Police Headquarters

Ontario Provincial Police Headquarters

Stephen Leacock

Stephen Leacock

Stephen Leacock

Stephen Leacock, the Canadian economist, writer and humorist was born in England in 1869 but moved to Canada when he was just six years old. In the summers he lived at his family's estate on Lake Simcoe. He later spent his summers on Brewery Bay in Orillia. The Stephen Leacock house is now a museum and a National Historic Site of Canada.

The Old Brewery Bay, Home of Stephen Leacock

The Old Brewery Bay, Home of Stephen Leacock

Stephen Leacock House in Orillia, Ontario

Stephen Leacock House in Orillia, Ontario

Gordon Lightfoot

Musician, singer and songwriter Gordon Lightfoot was born in Orillia in 1938. In his youth, Gordon would sing in the choir at St. Paul’s United Church in Orillia.

After graduating from Orillia District Collegiate Vocational Institute, ODCVI, Gordon went to school in California to study at Westlake College of Music.

When he returned to Canada he settled in Toronto, Ontario. Most summers he returns to Orillia to sing at the Mariposa Folk Festival held in July at Tudhope Park on Lake Couchiching. You can sometimes catch Gordon performing at the Orillia Opera House, in the Gordon Lightfoot Auditorium.

              Gordon Lightfoot   at The 2010 Mariposa Folk Festival

Gordon Lightfoot at The 2010 Mariposa Folk Festival

Gordon Lightfoot Ave., Orillia, Ontario

This can be seen off of Mississauga Street in Orillia. Both pictures have Gordon Lightfoot in them from when he sang as a tenor in The Collegiate Four in 1952. The other from when he played on a curling team.

This can be seen off of Mississauga Street in Orillia. Both pictures have Gordon Lightfoot in them from when he sang as a tenor in The Collegiate Four in 1952. The other from when he played on a curling team.

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Gordon Lightfoot at Mariposa Folk Festival 2012 - Surprise Guest Appearance

Streets Alive, Orillia 2017

A painting done on a leaf of Gordon Lightfoot.

A painting done on a leaf of Gordon Lightfoot.

Orillia Opera House

Orillia Opera House

Things to Do in Orillia

Built over 115 years ago, throughout the year at the Orillia Opera House, you can sit and enjoy a play, listen to an orchestra, attend a concert or laugh along with many comedians.

Tudhope Park, Orillia

Tudhope Park, Orillia

Mariposa Folk Festival

Mariposa Folk Festival

Music

  • The Mariposa Folk Festival is held at Tudhope Park on beautiful Lake Couchiching every year, the second weekend in July. IT has something for everyone to do. This three-day event features music from folk, rock, Celtic groups and more.
  • Attend musical workshops and visit the Artisans’ Village where you can purchase (or just look at) pottery, paintings, jewelry, woven art, carvings and even handmade instruments.
  • There are always numerous food and beverage vendors as well as beer tents that have other entertainment.
  • Children can find delight in Folkplay as well as enjoy painting and crafts, or even have their faces painted by Clarabella the clown.
Island Princess

Island Princess

Take a Cruise

Climb aboard the Island Princess and take one of the many relaxing tours of both lakes. This large double-decked riverboat-style vessel can hold up to 200 passengers and is fully handicapped accessible. Dinner cruises are available with a private chef and crew of six. The Princess does have a fully equipped bar should you like to relax with a drink.

Port of Orillia

Port of Orillia

Boating in Orillia

For boaters, Orillia has a dock at the Port of Orillia. There are 206 transient slips that will boat up to 80 ft. and 5 ft. draft. There are showers, an information center, laundromats, launch ramps, a fishing pier, free internet, and is just steps to downtown Orillia. Cost is $1.40 per foot plus tax, which includes water and hydro.


Fishing

For fishermen, Orillia has one of the largest registered fishing derbies in Canada called the Perch Festival which is held April – May, with thousands of dollars to be won.

orillia-birthplace-to-gordon-lightfoot

Winter Sports

Winter sports include skiing at one of the many resorts nearby Orillia. At Horseshoe Valley Resort there are 25 alpine runs for skiers and snowboarders. Other resorts are Mount St. Louis Moonstone and Hardwood Ski and Bike.

Thank You For Visiting

My family and I moved to Orillia twenty years ago from Toronto, which is 60 miles or 100 km south of Orillia. It is a beautiful place to live or visit.

For anyone wanting to relocate to Orillia, there are many schools including, Georgian College and Lakehead University, which opened its doors in September of 2010.

If you'd like to read more about the author or read more of her pieces here on HubPages, please visit her profile page.

© 2011 Susan Zutautas

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