The Orillia Arts and History Museum was an unexpected stop and a welcome surprise during our #letsgomaple Retreat. Looking at the sunny side of uncooperative weather with a museum visit. Originally we were scheduled to go skating but acombination of plus temperatures and rain meant unsafe ice conditions. As a result, our hosts quickly arranged an alternative activity, an art and history lesson at the Orillia Museum. Housed in the Sir Sam Steele Memorial Building, built in 1894.
Built in 1892 originally as the Post Office and Customs House. It cost 14000.00 and was designed by Thomas Fuller. Fuller designed Post Offices all across Canada using the style he had learned at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.
Several renovations and redo’s over the years changed the size and architectural details of the building. It eventually in 1956 became home to the Police and was renamed in recognition of Sir Sam Steele.
Set in the beautiful historic building that once housed the criminals of Orillia. The Museum once a Jail but now is the showcase for all the beauty that can be found in Orillia and surrounding areas.
Upon entry to the Gallery we were greeted with a display commemorating International Woman’s Day.Since 1997, the International Women’s Day Art Show has inspired hundreds of women to participate in highly dynamic exhibitions, exploring a wide range of media and themes.
This was one of my favourite pieces, the artist invites you to feel and experience and then jot down your thoughts.
An informative tour and captivating stories kept our group attentively listening. A love for art and history was felt by all.
The OMAH collection houses over 12 000 donated artifacts which illustrate the heritage of the City of Orillia and surrounding area. The collection features objects, archival documents, photographs and works of art pertaining to Sir Samuel Benfield Steele, Arthur Shilling, Franklin Carmichael, and others with a relationship to or have made a significant contribution to the City of Orillia and the surrounding area. These artifacts reflect the natural and human history of Orillia and are used for documentation, preservation, research, exhibition and interpretation purposes.
I was fascinated with the dress made of mesh. It is showcased in the old vault. The Building use to be the Postage and Customs house. We were quizzed on why a post office would require a vault, do you know? My case was duty and taxes but I was wrong, it was actually for stamps, lots and lots and valuable stamps, a currency on its own.
The basement is where the Jail cells are located. It is fascinating to see the cells and notice the scorch marked walls and ceilings. Back in the day they were allowed to keep lighters and matches and created their own form of art.
If you are not careful or are a bit of a saucy blogger you never know where you might end up.
I might not have been paying attention or possibly got caught in the Gordon Lightfoot exhibit….
Unique art is hanging all over the building, look up, down, sideways you never know what you will find
On the way to art class I got distracted on the second floor and could not resist checking out Gordon’s exhibit. True story I meet Mr Lightfoot last year in Fort Lauderdale. Had great seats next to his wife during the concert and then backstage to meet the man and his family. A very gracious man and a moment and concert I will treasure always.
It meant a lot to see the tribute to him at the museum ( and glad I stopped when I did, the 2nd floor then closed for a private function)
One of the fun highlights was a special art lesson. We all were provided with the tools to create our own memento.
Final stop a lovely gift shop where we all managed to pick up a few unique and fun gifts. The Orillia Museum of Art & History shop will amaze you with all the handcrafted items from local and Canadian artisans.
Furthermore, you will find a varied selection of gifts ranging from books on art and Orillia history to glass, silver and pottery, the museum shop is an excellent choice for everything from Orillia and Lake Country souvenirs.
In addition, I managed to purchase some lovely leaf plates you will see on a future tablescape, some lovely handmade soap. a hand carved wooden wine stopper and some tongs…. no judging you know I love to shop.
My one piece of advice….. You need to plan a trip to Orillia and surrounding areas and make sure you make time for the museum. It is a beautiful area filled with history, fun activities and culture.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks as a share my other adventures both indoors and Out. Orillia and the Let’s Go Maple Tour was just to amazing not to share with you.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post; I was provided accommodations to experience the #LetsGOMaple and #TapIntoMaple winter escape. All opinions are 100% my own and are not infleunced by sponsorship.
Looking for some other fascinating stories from Orillia, check out