Orillia and Canada, each born in 1867, will celebrate their 150th anniversary, together, this year.

“We are having a year-long community celebration to mark the sesquicentennial of both Orillia and Canada,” said Jacqueline Soczka, the city’s manager of culture. “It’s important to take pause once in a while to look back through the ages to celebrate who we are and to look to our future so we can grow as a community. We have so much here to celebrate.”

Orillia is well-known for spawning literary legend Stephen Leacock, Group of Seven painter Franklin Carmichael, iconic sculptor Elizabeth Wyn Wood, world-renowned singer Gordon Lightfoot and sporting giants such as Jake Gaudaur and Walter Knox. “These and other internationally-renowned people from Orillia have helped build and shape our country and, not only that, they lived in our city and supported our city,” said Soczka. “We have an incredible heritage.”

Year-long festivities kicked off with a colossal New Year’s Eve fireworks display and Levee. Throughout the year, the city’s popular festivals will help mark the milestone, said Soczka, noting the Mariposa Folk Festival, Scottish Festival, Canada Day and other events will incorporate the milestone in 2017

There will also be an informative exhibit at the Orillia Opera House this year tracing the history of the grand old downtown building that has been a focal point of the community since it opened in 1895. The Orillia Museum of Art and History will also be home to a year-round exhibit showcasing four of Orillia’s creative geniuses: Lightfoot, Leacock, Wyn Wood as well as Arthur Shilling – each of whom trace their talents to their roots in Orillia. And, the Orillia Public Library will unveil a new exhibit each month that focuses on an element of the city’s culture and heritage.

Two special events are also planned. On the Victoria Day weekend, there will be an outdoor market featuring music, entertainment and visual art inspired by Elizabeth Wyn Wood at Victoria Park. A tribute to the city’s rich musical heritage will be held August 5 at the beautifully-restored historic bandstand at Couchiching Beach Park.

Visitors are also encouraged to take a guided walking tour of historic downtown Orillia, which will be alive with maple leaf-shaped sculptures, and to check out the massive mural that will be created to mark the city’s 150th birthday. Visit www.orillia.ca/150 for a menu of events and at
tractions in Orillia and area.