5 Amazing Things About Orillia You May Not Have Known

Orillia, the Sunshine City, has a lot of surprises to it beyond the natural beauty and numerous places to enjoy the great outdoors. While many may know about the scenic beauty of Lake Couchiching and its beach and the bustling stores and art galleries of downtown Orillia, there are some fun and amazing Orillia facts that not everyone may know -- but should.

Here are our five favourite things about Orilla you may not have known.

Orillia shares the same birth year as Canada

Yes, Orillia is really that old! Orillia was first incorporated as a village back in 1867, the same year Canada became a nation under the British North America Act. Prior to that the area known for excellent fishing and hunting was occupied by the Huron-Wendat people.

Incorporated as a village with a population of around 1,000, Orillia quickly doubled that population by 1875 to become a town, then a full city in 1969. So if you ever want to remember just how old the municipality of Orillia is, just remember how old Canada is!

Orillia is home to one of the oldest human settlements in North America

Archaeologists have made an astonishing discovery near Orillia -- one of the oldest known human developments, created long before recorded history.

The shallow marshy water where Lake Simcoe empties into Lake Couchiching is a place called Atherley Narrows. It was here around 3,300 B.C. that wooden fishing weirs were erected to easily catch the bountiful fish swimming between the two bodies of water. The site is now officially recognized as a national historic site of Canada.

Orillia has Canada’s longest-running folk festival

As everyone knows, there’s something about Orillia that brings out artistic and creative passions. This spirit was in the air way back in 1961, when Orillia launched the now-famous Mariposa Folk Festival.

After three years in Orillia, the festival became a bit too successful, with more people attending than lived in Orillia, and disputes over some less-than-neighbourly behaviour by festival fans led to the festival’s (temporary) exile from Orillia. After spending the next four decades outside Orillia in places like Toronto, Barrie and Lake Innis, the festival came home to Orillia in the summer of 2000, featuring who else but Gordon Lightfoot as the closing-night headliner. That is where it remains, and you know that come summertime you can always discover some amazing folk music right in Orillia.

Orillia is the hometown of 3 famous Canadian Artists

There is something artistic in the air in Orillia. Not one but three of Canada’s most famous artists hail from the city. Perhaps the most famous one is of course folk legend Gordon Lightfoot, who has a statue dedicated to him in Orillia and is celebrated during a birthday festival. But internationally known writer and humourist Stephen Leacock also called Orillia home, and his former home is now a popular museum. And one of Canada’s leading painters, Franklin Carmichael of the Group of Seven, was from Orillia.

Orillia was the second place in the world to get daylight saving time

Pushing the clocks one hour forward was a controversial idea at the start of the 20th century, but Orillia didn’t think so. In June 1912 Orillia moved time 60 minutes’ ahead, the second location on the planet to do so after Thunder Bay. However, the experiment didn’t last, as many workers in the town refused to acknowledge the new time reality, leaving factories running on two time zones. Two weeks later, the experiment ended, though Canadian provinces widely adopted daylight saving time not long after.

There’s a lot that’s amazing about Orillia. If you want to explore what the Sunshine City has to offer, please drop by the best retirement home in Orillia and book a visit to see what luxury retirement has to offer.

Will Campbell