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Tom Hill's store was 'most unique gas depot in 50,000 miles'

Tom Hill built his stand in 1926 from bricks made by inserting glass and pottery into the mortar; The Hill family continues to operate a restaurant locally

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.

Orillia photographer Herbert Nieble published several postcard views of Hot Dog Tom Hill’s unique gas bar and restaurant.

The close-up view of the gas depot located next to his restaurant at 80 Colborne St. W. gives us good insight into one of Orillia’s most original promoters.

Hill built the stand in 1926 out of bricks made by inserting glass and pottery into mortar. Orillia had the Champlain Monument and Tom Hill had Lady Champlain, mounted on one of his brick columns.

Colborne Street was part of Highway 11 and Tom’s “5 quarts for the price of 1 gallon” sign was geared to the American tourist. The Canadian gallon was 160 ounces, or 40 ounces to a quart, and the U.S. quart was 32 ounces, so to buy a Canadian gallon was to receive five American quarts.

The gas depot had 10 clear vision pumps. Each pump had 10 gallon cylinders with one gallon markings on the face. The gas was hand-pumped to the desired level and then a gate valve was opened, allowing every drop to be dispensed into the customer’s fuel tank.

There was no loyalty to any one gas company at Hill’s. The pump globes read British American, Supertest, Shell, Canadian Ethyl and Marathon Red Indian. If you liked any one brand of fuel, Tom Hill sold it.

“Most unique Gas Depot in 50,000 miles?” You bet!

You would need to travel around the world twice and that would bring you right back to Hot Dog Tom Hill in Orillia.


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