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Maple Leaf Club was the most popular place in town (4 photos)

The year it opened, more than 8,000 guests had registered to enjoy the activities 'hosted by the ladies of Orillia'

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.

Starting today, and for the following three Saturdays, Postcard Memories will have a Remembrance Day theme.

In June, 1942 the St. James' Church parish offered their Sunday School building to the Orillia Citizens War Committee as a hostess house for the use of soldiers stationed in Orillia during the Second World War.

Shortly after, under the direction of Edna Swinton, president of the club, a large sign was hung near the entrance and The Maple Leaf Club became a home away from home for the many soldiers training in Orillia. 

The Department of National Defence leased 20 acres of land north of Brant Street at the end of Cameron Street that was the old driving park used for horse racing in the early 1900s. Here they constructed a large camp called Basic Training Camp #26, used for recruits sent here for partial training and after assessment sent on to other units.

Around 40 buildings, including 30 large barracks, at least three for the use of women, housed up to 2,000 recruits for the next three years. 

A large drill hall of over 10,000 square feet was used for training and also for recreation with movie and dance nights held there. The men and women in camp were up at 6 a.m. each day and finished their day at 5 p.m. in the evening, giving them the freedom to spend evenings downtown.

The Maple Leaf Club soon became the most popular place in town with 500 visitors on opening day. In its first year, more than 8,000 guests had registered to enjoy the activities hosted by the ladies of Orillia.

The Maple Leaf Club featured a lounge, canteen, reading room, games room, tennis room and a writing room. The main hall was used for dances and Sunday evening sing-songs. 


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