Skip to content

Owaissa Lodge was a local landmark

Take a trip down memory lane to an idyllic, 78-acre property on the lake that later became home to Orr-Walton Sports Camp

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!

Around the time this photo showing the outdoor pool was taken, John R. MacIsaac, the owner of Owaissa Lodge, was celebrating the opening of a new dining room, completed in May 1956.  

Originally part of the Gallivan farm, this beautiful 78-acre property on Lake Couchiching, close to the mouth of The Narrows, was once a landmark to Mara residents.

In 1918, a wealthy Toronto woman, Mrs. Sidney Small, purchased the property for a summer home.    

Around 1928, the home was purchased by Colonel Jones, an English army officer who spent the winters in England and the summers here. 

After Col. Jones’s death, Mr. A.G. Greer obtained the property and winterized it.   

Mr. MacIsaac enlarged the building after he purchased it in 1949, and opened it as Owaissa Lodge Resort the following year. Owaissa is a First Nation word meaning bluebird, chosen because of the numerous bluebirds that nested in the area.   

During the next six years, the resort was enlarged three times; the addition of a new dining room and large banquet hall allowed it to cater to weddings, sports events and other such affairs.  

The lodge itself had accommodation for 50 guests.The Owaissa Lodge pub was a popular meeting place during the late 1950s and early 1960s when Orillia was a dry town with only a few private clubs serving alcohol.   

Many Orillians will remember the sign hanging near the bar that spelled “IITYWYBMAD”.  If you asked what it meant, you were told “If I Tell You Will You Buy Me A Drink?”   

The aerial view photo of Owaissa Lodge is dated around 1960, a few years before being sold in 1966 to establish the Orr- Walton Sports Camp.