Orillia Home Inspector

History

The Village of Orillia was incorporated in 1867 (sharing the same birthyear as Canada), became a town in 1875, and was designated a city in 1969. The City of Orillia is located on the shores of two connected lakes: Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching. Both lakes are part of the Trent-Severn Waterway. Travel north on Lake Couchiching, then through three locks and the only marine railway in North America leads to Georgian Bay on Lake Huron. Travel south-east across Lake Simcoe, through many locks (including two of the highest hydraulic lift locks in the world) eventually leads to Lake Ontario. From either of these Great Lakes one can connect to the St. Lawrence and thence to the Atlantic Ocean. The human history of the region extends back several thousand years: in the “Narrows”, a small waterway that connects Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe, there is marine archaeological evidence of ancient fishing weirs used by Huron and Iroquois people to trap fish over 4,000 years ago. Also, there are several archaeological sites in the surrounding area that provide evidence of trading, fishing, and hunting camps that were visited for hundreds of years by indians. Also of historical note, the famed French explorer Samuel de Champlain visited the area that would later become Orillia in the early 1600s. Ecole Samuel de Champlain, a local francophone elementary school, is named in his honour. A monument to Samuel de Champlain can also be found in Couchiching Park, and is a National Historic Site. In Stephen Leacock’s 1912 book Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, Orillia was used as the basis for the fictional town known as “Mariposa”, although Leacock stated that the fictional town could really be any town. The book was based on Leacock’s experiences in the town and the city has since the book’s release attempted to mimic the fictional location in as many ways as possible. The Stephen Leacock Museum, located in Orillia, is a National Historic Site. William E. Bell’s 1989 novel Five Days of the Ghost was also set in Orillia, with many readers recognizing popular local spots, including the Guardian Angels Catholic Church, the Samuel de Champlain statue in Couchiching Park as well as Big Chief Island in the middle of Lake Couchiching. Orillia was the first municipality in North America to introduce daylight saving time and had the first municipal hydro electric transmission plant in North America.

Name of Orillia The first recorded use of the name to describe the region, which until then had no officially sanctioned designation, was in 1820 when the name was given in York, Upper Canada by then Lieutenant-Governor Sir Peregrine Maitland, Maitland was a veteran of the British campaign against the French in Spain, called the Peninsular War, during the Napoleonic Wars where he served under the command of Wellington. While there are no records clearly indicating the reason for the name Orillia, the most common explanation holds that the name originates in the Spanish, “orilla,” which can mean the shore of either a lake or river. The Spanish pronunciation sounds much like, “oreeya,” and since the word itself is spelled almost identically to Orillia, without the second, “i,” it has come to be commonly accepted as the source word for the city’s name. Further backing the theory of a Spanish origin are the names of surrounding communities and landmarks, which include Oro for gold, Mariposa for butterfly, and Mono for monkey. Historical documents contain a second spelling of the name which was never officially recognised, Aurelia, which when pronounced sounds similar to the name and is considered a clerical error.