OrilliaMatters received the following letter from Jack Gourlie. It's an open letter to the Honorable Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke and Coun. Tim Lauer, city council representatives on a newly-formed committee to determine the future of the Champlain Monument.
Practically every day I walk through Couchiching Beach Park. It is the pride of Orillians with its pristine kept gardens, its own greenhouse, its wonderful swimming and recreational facilities for old and young, its picnic areas with the main pavilion, its outdoor concert centre, its original snack bar, its docking facilities (400 slips ) and new (waterfront) centre.
Its new ramps and adequate parking facilities for trailers attract hundreds of fishermen. Its layout (is ideal) to host an annual Scottish Festival, Boat and Cottage Show, Canada Day festivities, Labour Day parade and games, Civic Holiday events, Terry Fox Run, the Northern Ontario Triathlon, Ramada Celebrations and other events.
It always amazes me on a Monday how neat and clean the park is thanks to Orillia Parks Department with the support of Mayor Steve Clarke and council.
But missing last fall, this summer and fall is the treasured statue of Samuel de Champlain, given to the citizens of Orillia in 1925.
The people of Orillia grew up with this proud symbol and the empty area where the statue stood is an eyesore and right in the centre of the park. The sign still hangs on the fencing around the messy, unkempt area - a blight to Orillia - saying the statue will be returned (by) July 2018.
The citizens of Orillia want the precious statue of Champlain with the priest and celebrating First Nation men returned to its rightful place in Couchiching Beach Park.
We are hopeful of your support as we know you have made it known you do not feel historical monuments should come down.
Thank you in advance for your consideration to this response and reply to this letter.
School Superintendent, Toronto Board of Education (Retired)
Citizen of Orillia for 27 years