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Whiskey, 50 cents a gallon, meant need for a large local lockup

The historic lockup, built in 1874, and Electric Station next door were torn down in 1962 — despite the protest of a large group of citizens
electric station
The Electric Station was built by the Orillia Water Light and Power Commission in 1901 and housed transformers, a workshop and office space.

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.

The Electric Station was built by the Orillia Water Light and Power Commission at 17 West St. N. (just north of the Orillia Opera House) in 1901 and housed transformers, a workshop and office space. 

The building on the left was one of Orillia’s oldest structures. Built in 1874 it contained the first village council chamber, clerk’s office and a lockup on the first floor. 

In those days, Orillia had the reputation of being one of the hardest drinking centres in Ontario. Railway workers and shanty men were paid $1 a day and with whiskey available for 50 cents a gallon. these workers would pile into town looking for excitement and a substantial lockup was needed to cool off the over-boisterous celebrants.  

The first floor and front were built using limestone from the Longford Quarry and the second floor and back from a local brickyard. 

The next year the council moved to the new Opera House, but the lockup continued in use until 1917 when a new police office and holding cells were built in the basement of the Opera House. 

The building became part of the offices for the OWLP until they moved to new offices in 1961. 

Despite the protest of a large group of citizens, both the historic lockup and the Electric Station were torn down in 1962.