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More than 130 Orillia men joined C Company to help the war effort

Company marched to Longford before snow and sleet prompted them to hop a train back to town
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This rare postcard shows close to 70 men in front of an unknown church. We can speculate that this was one of the area churches that hosted the troops.

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 his book Fighting Men, written in 1967, Leslie Frost gives us a complete account of the recruitment of the young men in the Orillia area during the first war.

Recruiting started at the Orillia armouries during the summer of 1915. By fall, a proposal was approved to recruit a full Battalion and the First Simcoe Battalion 157 with Companies in Barrie, Collingwood, Midland and Orillia was formed.

C Company was designated as the Orillia Company and by the end of December, 130 Orillia men had joined. 

The armoury was taken over until spring by the 76th Battalion recruited from around central Ontario.

The new Simcoe Battalion was headquartered in the recently closed Tudhope-Knox Co. factory at the south-west corner of Barrie Road and West Street. The drill ground was the Market Square.

Training in Orillia was a problem because of a lack of equipment. The Company began marching to outlying points where sometimes a meal or other entertainment would be provided by some ladies’ organization.

The first march was to Longford where a concert and dance was held. When it came time to return to Orillia the Company found itself in a severe sleet and snow storm. A collection was taken up by all ranks and the Company was able to hop on the 4:40 train from Gravenhurst to Orillia.

A later march was to Hawkestone where a fine dinner was served before the weary troops returned home over the icy roads.

After the completion of Camp Borden in July 1916, a large crowd gathered to watch C Company march to the train station for the journey to its new home near Barrie