The Orillia Spirit


The history of Orillia, told through the stories of its people, bringing to life the community’s heritage and significance.

Planning a battle that would destroy one nation and change another, Samuel de Champlain had it. Muddling through Canada’s hilarious first experiment with daylight savings time, Mayor “Daylight Bill” Frost had it, too: the Orillia Spirit.

Turn-of-the-century leaders coined the phrase “the Orillia Spirit” to describe their drive to make the town a social, moral, and economic leader of Canada. Sometimes they succeeded, sometimes they erred — as when they decided that the horse-drawn carriage, not the automobile, would be the vehicle of the twentieth century.

For better or for worse, something about the place immortalized in Stephen Leacock’s classic Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town has always inspired its people to reach for their dreams. The results have been comic, tragic, and heroic, as shown in this colourful history of Orillia.

Through the years, the Orillia Spirit has continued to inspire the eccentric and the noble alike, fueling battles and creating characters that would make Leacock proud.


How locally-generated power changed our community from a sleepy lumber village to a thriving industrial centre is an engrossing read — as entertaining as it is enlightening — in Randy Richmond’s The Orillia Spirit.

Packet & Times

About the Author

Randy Richmond

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Randy Richmond

Randy Richmond is an Orillia journalist. He wandered from job to job for several years after graduating from Carleton University. When he reached Orillia, he knew he was home. So he got married, bought a house, had a daughter, and started to listen to the cityÂ’s stories.