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Orillia unveils newest park, named after local boxing great (12 photos)

Walter Henry 'humbled' by park being named in his honour; Walter Henry Park officially opened Tuesday

Walter Henry has a number of accomplishments and awards under his belt, from his Olympic boxing career to being named Orillia’s Greatest Athlete, and he added one more to the list Tuesday.

The city unveiled its latest park and has named it after Henry.

The official opening of Walter Henry Park took place Tuesday at 3050 Orion Blvd. in west Orillia.

“This is such a beautiful park,” Henry said. "We need it for our youth so they can stay healthy and breathe the fresh air.”

People got to do just that thanks to the unseasonably warm November weather. They were at the park to check out its many attractions, including slides, swings, trails, a butterfly garden, basketball and pickleball courts and the popular zip line.

“We love it,” said Robin Odorico, who was at the park Tuesday with her daughter.

Before the park opened, there wasn’t one within walking distance from Odorico’s home.

“Now we can go to the park every day after school,” she said.

When Henry found out the park was being named after him, he was “speechless.”

“I couldn’t wrap my head around it at first,” he said. “What an honour. I feel very humbled by it.”

He joked that he didn’t think there were any more accolades he could receive from the city. Those accolades started soon after he arrived here from Ireland in 1957. The following year, he was named Orillia’s Athlete of the Year.

He went on to fight in more than 400 boxing matches and lost only 18.

Mayor Steve Clarke described Walter Henry Park as “a beautiful park named for a wonderful citizen.”

“Athletics are one thing … but what impresses me most about Walter is his personality,” he said. “He’s a gentleman and a wonderful ambassador for the city.”

Mel St. Onge, who put Henry’s name forward for the name of the new park, echoed that sentiment.

“He’s a gentleman. He treats everyone like family,” St. Onge said. “He never complains. He’s just a class act.”

Pine Valley Corporation oversaw the construction of the 8.3-acre park. It was designed by FRP Inc. and the playground was designed by Earthscape. It cost $3.2 million and was designed to cater to various ages and abilities.

The opening of Walter Henry Park brings the city’s total number of parks to 40.


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Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the desk editor for Village Media's central Ontario news desk in Simcoe County and Newmarket.
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