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Large empty barn was transformed into Big Chief Lodge (4 photos)

Take a trip down memory lane to the origins of a popular tourist draw from the early 1900s

Postcard Memories is a weekly series of historic postcard views and photos submitted by Marcel Rousseau. Some were previously published by the Orillia Museum of Art and History and in the book Postcard Memories Orillia.

You can take a trip down memory lane with us each Saturday morning!

In 1926, Wilbert Austral Manning Cody converted a large empty barn into a luxury hotel on what is now called Big Chief Road just north of Orillia.

He called it Big Chief Lodge after Chief Yellowhead (Musquakie), who had made his home on Big Chief Island in Lake Couchiching. Bert, as he was fondly called, also erected 12 log cottages on the slope between the lodge and the lakeshore.

In the book Secrets of the Lakes, by Monica Frim, we are told that the lodge burned in 1933 and a new lodge, built of stone, opened in 1934.

After Bert retired in 1953, his son Jay took over the lodge and added the Chieftain Motel on the property near Highway 11. Jay developed the lodge into a popular destination for Canadian and American vacationers until he retired from the resort business in the early 1970s.

New owners continued to operate the Chieftain Motel, but the lakeshore buildings were demolished in the mid-1970’s to make way for several residential homes.