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Orillia
City (single-tier)
City of Orillia
Waterfront of Orillia
Waterfront of Orillia
Nickname(s): The Sunshine City
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
Incorporation 1867 (Village)
Incorporation 1875 (Town)
Incorporation 1969 (City)
Area
 • Land 28.61 km2 (11.05 sq mi)
 • Metro 458.55 km2 (177.05 sq mi)
Elevation 219.50 m (720.14 ft)
Population (2011)
 • City (single-tier) 30,586
 • Density 1,069.2/km2 (2,769/sq mi)
 • Metro 40,731
 • Metro density 88.8/km2 (230/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Postal code FSA L3V
Area code(s) 705

Orillia /əˈrɪliə/ is a Canadian city located in Simcoe County between Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe. Although located in Simcoe County, the city is politically independent. It is part of the Huronia region of Central Ontario.

Originally incorporated as a village in 1867, the history of what is today the City of Orillia dates back at least several thousand years. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of fishing by the Huron and Iroquois peoples in the area over 4,000 years ago as well as sites used by Native Americans for hundreds of years for trading, hunting, and fishing.

Known as the "Sunshine City", the city's large waterfront attracts many tourists to the area every year, as do a good number of annual festivals and other cultural attractions. While the area's largest employer is Casino Rama, overall economic activity in Orillia is a mixture of many different industries including manufacturing, government services, customer service and tourism.

History and geography

PortionofSamueldeChamplainMonumentinOrilliaOntario
The Christian missionary portion of the Samuel de Champlain monument designed by Vernon March in Orillia.
Orillia City Hall
Orillia City Hall

The site of an Ojibwa reserve from 1830 to 1838, Orillia subsequently prospered as an agricultural and lumbering community. Transportation links with Toronto and Georgian Bay stimulated Orillia's development as a commercial centre and summer resort. 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 Native Americans.

Also of historical note, the famed French explorer Samuel de Champlain visited the area that would later become Orillia in the early 17th century. 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 Beach Park, and is a National Historic Site of Canada.

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 Beach 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

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.

Demographics

Historical populations
Year Pop. ±%
1841 200 —    
1871 1,322 +561.0%
1881 2,911 +120.2%
1891 4,752 +63.2%
1901 4,907 +3.3%
1911 6,828 +39.1%
1921 8,774 +28.5%
1931 8,183 −6.7%
1941 9,705 +18.6%
1951 12,110 +24.8%
1961 15,345 +26.7%
1971 24,040 +56.7%
1981 23,955 −0.4%
1991 25,925 +8.2%
1996 27,846 +7.4%
2001 29,121 +4.6%
2006 30,259 +3.9%
2011 30,586 +1.1%
Canada census – Orillia community profile
2011 2006
Population: 30,586 (1.1% from 2006) 30,259 (3.9% from 2001)
Land area: 28.61 km2 (11.05 sq mi) 28.61 km2 (11.05 sq mi)
Population density: 1,069.2/km2 (2,769/sq mi) 1,057.8/km2 (2,740/sq mi)
Median age: 42.7 (M: 41.0, F: 44.2)
Total private dwellings: 13,863 13,013
Median household income: $46,722
References: 2011 2006 earlier

According to the 2006 Canada Census, Orillia has a population of 30,259 living in an area of 28.61 square kilometres. The city has experienced moderate growth, with a population increase of over 1,000 residents (3.9 percent) since the 2001 census. The median household income in 2005 for Orillia was $46,722, which is below the Ontario provincial average of $60,455.

Recreation and culture

Orillia is known as the "Sunshine City", taking the moniker from the Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock. Many local businesses also use "Mariposa" in their names. The city council has actively restricted the construction of large buildings downtown and seeks to maintain a certain "small town" look with regard to signs and decorations. However, in 2012 plans were discussed to redevelop the waterfront district and other areas underdeveloped or otherwise vacant. A 3D model was developed at the local Royal Canadian Legion to reflect the possible future and is to be on display in city hall.

Stephen Leacock House Orillia
Stephen Leacock House museum in Orillia

Orillia's "Arts District” is located on Peter St. S., between Mississauga St. E and Colborne St. E. and is home to a variety of art galleries, fine dining and shops. At its centre is The Orillia Museum of Art & History (OMAH), considered the hub of art and culture for the city, playing an instrumental role in municipal cultural events.

The museum occupies all four floors of the historic Sir Sam Steele Building, a landmark destination for both residents and visitors. A collection of over 10 000 artefacts of regional historical significance features in a rotating exhibits schedule. On a separate floor is contemporary art space with exhibits featuring regional and international artists. The museum also features a designated education space and hosts activities including art-making and interpretive programming for children, artists, artisans, historians, etc.

Many tourists and boaters are attracted to the city each year because of its waterfront park Couchiching Beach Park/Centennial Park/Port of Orillia and its position as a gateway to Lake Country, cottage country in Muskoka, Algonquin Provincial Park, and other natural attractions. The city's waterfront has an extensive lakeshore boardwalk, a large park with two beaches, several playgrounds, an outdoor theatre, a touring ferry, and a children's' train.

The city of Orillia also is home to a large number of retirement homes (currently 9, with 4 more under construction). As such, it is often characterized as a "retirement community", although less than 18% of the city's population is actually over 65 (see below).

Orillia is home to an annual Perch Fishing Festival. Perch are netted, tagged, and released into the local lake, to be caught for prize money. This event also includes a large social gathering consisting of a "perch fry". Other popular annual festivals include the Leacock Festival, Blues Festival, Jazz Festival,Scottish Festival, and Beatles Festival (newly added to the city in September 7)

The Port of Orillia holds an annual "Christmas in June", which includes a boat decorating contest and turkey buffet, every June 24. Also, boat and cottage shows are held in June and August.

Orillia also hosts the largest Canada Day event in Central Ontario at Couchiching Beach Park. The day begins with the traditional pancake breakfast served by the Mayor and Council and ends with a large fireworks display.

Orillia is the original and current site of the popular Mariposa Folk Festival.

The Royal Canadian Legion sponsors a yearly Scottish Festival at Couchiching Beach Park and Centennial Park in July each year. Marching bands from around the country participate.

Since 1963, the Webers hamburger restaurant has been located approximately 1 km north of Orillia, next to Ontario Highway 11.

Lake St. George Golf Club is located ten minutes north of Orillia.

Transit

Orillia Transit bus
An Orillia Transit bus.

Orillia Transit provides service on five routes throughout the city. All of these routes run on loops which depart and end at the downtown bus terminal on the West St. and Mississaga St. intersection.

Climate

Climate data for Orillia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 10.0
(50)
13.0
(55.4)
23.0
(73.4)
29.5
(85.1)
32.5
(90.5)
34.0
(93.2)
37.5
(99.5)
34.0
(93.2)
32.5
(90.5)
27.0
(80.6)
21.5
(70.7)
17.0
(62.6)
37.5
(99.5)
Average high °C (°F) -3.6
(25.5)
-2.7
(27.1)
2.9
(37.2)
10.7
(51.3)
18.2
(64.8)
22.5
(72.5)
25.7
(78.3)
24.2
(75.6)
19.3
(66.7)
12.2
(54)
5.8
(42.4)
-0.7
(30.7)
11.2
(52.2)
Daily mean °C (°F) -8.4
(16.9)
-7.7
(18.1)
-2.1
(28.2)
5.7
(42.3)
12.9
(55.2)
17.1
(62.8)
20.6
(69.1)
19.4
(66.9)
14.8
(58.6)
8.2
(46.8)
2.2
(36)
-4.8
(23.4)
6.5
(43.7)
Average low °C (°F) -13.1
(8.4)
-12.6
(9.3)
-7.0
(19.4)
0.8
(33.4)
7.5
(45.5)
11.5
(52.7)
15.5
(59.9)
14.6
(58.3)
10.2
(50.4)
3.9
(39)
-1.3
(29.7)
-8.8
(16.2)
1.8
(35.2)
Record low °C (°F) -37.0
(-34.6)
-37.0
(-34.6)
-30.0
(-22)
-15.0
(5)
-3.5
(25.7)
0.5
(32.9)
7.0
(44.6)
4.0
(39.2)
-3.0
(26.6)
-6.0
(21.2)
-9.0
(15.8)
-35.0
(-31)
-37.0
(-34.6)
Precipitation mm (inches) 103.1
(4.059)
68.1
(2.681)
71.3
(2.807)
72.2
(2.843)
77.6
(3.055)
76.4
(3.008)
77.4
(3.047)
102.4
(4.031)
95.5
(3.76)
89.7
(3.531)
102.5
(4.035)
107.3
(4.224)
1,043.2
(41.071)
Rainfall mm (inches) 13.9
(0.547)
15.4
(0.606)
38.4
(1.512)
60.9
(2.398)
77.3
(3.043)
76.4
(3.008)
77.4
(3.047)
102.4
(4.031)
95.3
(3.752)
86.5
(3.406)
77.1
(3.035)
29.6
(1.165)
750.6
(29.551)
Snowfall cm (inches) 89.2
(35.12)
59.6
(23.46)
32.9
(12.95)
11.3
(4.45)
0.4
(0.16)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
3.2
(1.26)
25.4
(10)
77.7
(30.59)
292.6
(115.2)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 16.9 11.8 12.4 12.0 12.8 11.7 9.8 12.5 13.6 15.3 15.7 16.9 161.3
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 2.6 2.3 6.5 10.6 12.7 11.7 9.8 12.5 13.6 15.0 12.3 4.5 114.2
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 14.8 10.2 6.5 2.2 0.17 0 0 0 0 0.73 4.7 13.4 52.7
Source: Environment Canada

Ontario Provincial Police Headquarters

Oppcentre
The OPP Headquarters

As part of an initiative to decentralise its services, the provincial government relocated the headquarters of the Ontario Provincial Police to Orillia. The office was initially located in the Tudhope Building downtown (part of which is currently used as the Orillia City Hall) until the new building was opened in 1995. The headquarters, known as the Lincoln M. Alexander Building, is located on Memorial Avenue near the Huronia Regional Centre. The building houses the assorted bureaus and divisions that make up the general headquarters, as well as the Provincial Police Academy, and The OPP Museum.

OPP Central Region Headquarters is located on Hurtubise Road, near the intersection of Hwy 12 and Memorial Avenue.

The OPP also provides municipal policing to the City of Orillia under contract from a detachment located in the downtown core. The city's police force was disbanded when the policing contract began in 1996.

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