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Orillia Ontario

Orillia Ontario lies to the north of The Atherley Narrows, the point where Lakes Simcoe and Couchiching meet, which makes it a  popular centre for visitors, cottagers and tourists, see our photo below. 

Before the 1950's, trains brought Toronto's well-to-do folks to Orillia for vacations and the lakes and surrounding forests were busy.

Today, thanks to much improved roads and vehicles, it's even busier but more with weekenders than people taking full vacations.

The cottages around the lakeshores just outside town are still busy throughout the summer with kids, grandparents, moms, and occasional dads.

Orillia Ontario, Atherley Narrows between Lakes Simcoe and Couchiching

With a population of about 35,000 people, Orillia Ontario isn't a small city and being on the Hwy 400 (to Barrie) and a fast Hwy 11, one of Ontario's principal roads to the north, it's still growing fast.

Much of the growth coming as people from Toronto move into the neighbourhood and commute to work. And it's a great place to live, with boating on your doorstep and golf all around. There are lots of courses in and around Orillia, many, like Horseshoe Valley, being the summer part of the nearby Ski Resorts.

Annual Events in Orillia Ontario

Orillia Ontario, Canada, annual Scottish Festival

Orillia's Mississaga street, however, has still kept its old Ontario charm. The big stores beloved by urban folks are all on the edge of town in a giant retail park just off Hwy 11.

Mississaga Street is where a lot of the vacation focused Orillia events happen. The Scottish Festival parade marches along there on its way to Centennial Park at the shore of Lake Couchiching and the annual Classic Car event is on main street too and spilling over onto joining streets when needed, and it usually is.

The Orillia Scottish Festival is held each year in July. After a parade down Mississaga street, pipe bands gather in Couchiching Beach and Centennial Park to parade and play together. Concession stands of Scottish and Scottish-themed products and food do steady business while Highland Dancers and singers perform on stages around the park. It's a great weekend or day out for Scots and lovers of all things Scottish (yes, even haggis), like me.

For fans of all things British, Orillia holds a Beatles Celebration in September with tribute artists, vendors and films.

Orillia Ontario, Canada, annual classic car show

The Orillia Classic Car show is held every August. The number of cars that turn out for this event is pretty impressive, around 400, so you can wander among the cars for hours.

North American manufactured vehicles predominate, as you'd expect, but there's also a lot of British cars, mainly sports cars, there too.

Orillia Ontario, Canada, sunset over Lake Simcoe

Orillia Ontario is home to an annual Perch Fishing Festival, held every year from mid- April to mid-May. The festival is a registered fishing derby with cash and product prizes. Just register and then fish to win. The event is centred in Tudhope Park on the shores of Lake Couchiching but you can fish in either lake.

Mariposa Folk festival has been delighting folk fans for over half a century and some of Canada's most famous singer/song-writers made their name here. The festival is in held at Tudhope Park on Lake Couchiching each July.

Orillia's Waterfront Festival is held in August on Lake Couchiching, the warmer shallower of the two lakes, and it features water skiing shows, a boat show, music and a beer garden. What better way is there to spend a hot summer day?

Things to Do in Orillia

Orillia Ontario, Canada, Island Princess cruise boat on Lake Couchiching

Island Princess boat cruises offer a number of different trips, of varying length, on the two lakes throughout the summer and finishing with Fall Colours' cruises at the end of September, like the one in our photo. They also do weddings group and private cruises too. The boat leaves from the dock at the edge of Centennial Park, at the foot of Mississagi Street - don't miss it!

The celebrated Canadian humorist and author, Stephen Leacock, had his home in Orillia. It's now a museum of Leacock and his life. Orillia celebrates his life and work each year with a festival in July.

Orillia Ontario is also where you'll find Casino Rama, one of Ontario's finest casinos and entertainment places, see our page here. For more about Orillia, visit the city's website here.

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