Orillia Ontario Birthplace to Legend Gordon Lightfoot
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 becoming a town in 1875 and a city in 1969. In the 1600’s Samuel d’Champlain visited Orillia and at Lake Couchiching Park you will find a bronze sculpture monument in his honor.
Interesting Facts on Orillia
- In 1902 Orillia had the first municipal hydro electric transmission plant in America.
- In 1936, the town of Orillia printed its own money.
- Orillia means border, shore or bank in Spanish getting it’s name, which was 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 Asylum originally was 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 are using the property, but it is for sale with a price tag of 6.5 million dollars.
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.
Stephen Leacock, Canadian economist, writer and humorist born in England in 1869 moved to Canada when he was six years old. In the summers he lived at his families 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.
Gordon Lightfoot musician, singer, songwriter was born in Orillia in 1938. As a 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 Ave., Orillia, Ontario
Gordon Lightfoot at Mariposa Folk Festival 2012 - Surprise guest appearance
Play Gordon Lightfoot Songs Yourself
Streets Alive, Orillia 2017
Things To Do In Orillia
At the Orillia Opera House (built over 115 years ago) throughout the year you can sit and enjoy a play, listen to an orchestra, attend a concert or laugh along with many comedians.
- Mariposa Folk Festival, held at Tudhope Park on beautiful lake Couchiching every year in July, has something for everyone to do. This three-day event features music from folk, rock, Celtic and more.
- Attend musical workshops, 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 entertainment.
- Children delight in Folkplay as well as enjoy painting and crafts, or have their faces painted by Clarabella the clown.
- Each year the festival is held on the second weekend in July.
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 will 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.
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.
For fisherman, Orillia has one of the largest registered fishing derbies in Canada called the Perch Festival that is held April – May, with thousands of dollars to be won.
Winter Sports include skiing at one of many ski 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.
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 it doors here in September of 2010.
Thank You For Visiting
If you'd like to read more about the author Just Ask Susan, or read more of her articles here on HubPages, please visit her profile page.
© 2011 Susan Zutautas