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Orillia trail signs provide an interesting history lesson (16 photos)

The 9.5-km Millennium Trail is home to many plaques, monuments and signs that help share the story of Orillia - including some tales that may surprise you

When we consider the “people and places that make us proud to call our community home” – the theme of this Rooted column – there are likely very few of us who would not consider Orillia’s waterfront trail to be something to be proud of.

The Millennium Trail, the 9.5 km multi-use paved pathway running from near Wilson Point Road to the Narrows, has been a brilliant addition to the quality of life in our city.

As much as the trail provides for a healthier lifestyle, opportunities for recreation activities, and more recently, a chance to get outside during the pandemic, it also provides interesting insight into our history.

Thanks to the City of Orillia and other organizations and levels of government, the trail is marked with a number of plaques and monuments describing the early and more recent history of Orillia, especially as it relates to the waterfront. They are sometimes easy to miss, especially if you are focused on your trail activity or getting to your destination.

I recently decided to make some stops along the trail to take a closer look at some of the stories shared along the trail. While most of us are familiar with the contribution of legendary singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, the summer life of Stephen Leacock at his lakeside home, or the current controversy surrounding the Champlain Monument, there are many lesser-known stories that may surprise you.

Did Orillia really provide the ice cubes for drinks at a fancy Chicago hotel? Or have our own luxurious lakeside hotel, or produce racing boats that won world records, not to mention our very own world record-holder rower?

There’s lots to discover along the trail. Here’s a photo tour to help you plan your own excursion down this memory lane. Enjoy!