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Old 05-02-2014, 08:17 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,592
Default Lightfoot Museum in Orillia??

City should celebrate its claims to fame 3
Thursday, May 1, 2014 5:23:59

In the autumn of 1615, French explorer Samuel de Champlain journeyed through what is now Orillia in the company of a Huron war party. At the Narrows, he observed the native people netting fish at the weirs, using the same simple and ingenious technology employed at the site for more than 4,000 years.

It was an era of bold enterprise and extraordinary discovery. King James I occupied the throne of England and the elegant King James translation of the Bible had just been completed. Louis XIII reigned over France and Philip III ruled Spain. European seafarers and adventurers crossed the Atlantic Ocean, following great rivers and enormous lakes into an uncharted New World.

One hundred years ago, our forefathers recognized Champlainís connection to Orillia by erecting the soaring bronze monument in Couchiching Beach Park. It was meant to be unveiled in 1915, but a scarcity of metal during the First World War delayed the project until 1925, when more than 10,000 people attended the dedication ceremony.

With next yearís 400th anniversary of Champlainís historic journey approaching, Orillia has an opportunity to once again celebrate our significant place in Canadian and world history.

The fish weirs are one of the oldest archeological sites in North America and predate the construction of the pyramids of Egypt.

I hope people of energy and vision in Orillia can devise a celebration worthy of this historic milestone. We could stage canoeing and on-land events along Champlainís route through Huronia, invite archeologists to dig once again at the site of the large Huron village of Cahiague near Warminster, open at long last an interpretive centre at the Narrows, connect with the few remaining Hurons who still reside near Montreal and more. It just takes some imagination and planning.

Quebec City received millions in federal and provincial funding to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its founding by Champlain in 1608. Now itís our turn. And it shouldnít end with Champlain. Our city has a wealth of legends and landmarks we should be trumpeting with gusto.

In 1890, Orillia oarsman Jake Gaudaur won the world championship in double sculls on Lake Couchiching. Hundreds stood on the rooftops of parked tourist trains to watch the big event while hundreds more crowded along the shore. In 1894, Gaudaur set a world record of 19 minutes, 1.5 seconds in the three-miles-with-a-turn, single-scull race, a time that has never been broken. He captured the world championship in single sculls in 1896 on the Thames River in London, England, and held the title until 1901. Why not invite the worldís best rowers to try to beat Gaudaur's time in an international challenge event on Lake Couchiching? To be fair to our hometown hero, the modern, synthetic rowing shells would have to be weighted to equal that of Gaudaurís heavier, wooden predecessors.

The repatriated Mariposa Folk Festival has quite properly placed renowned Orillia folk singer Gordon Lightfoot on a pedestal. But a greater monument to his achievement is still needed. Canadian music icon Randy Bachman recently described If You Could Read My Mind as the best popular song ever written.

We need a Lightfoot museum matching the special treatment already lavished on another giant local figure, Stephen Leacock.

Group of Seven painter Franklin Carmichael, born on Scott Street, also needs to be fully recognized, perhaps with an annual competition and award to a local artist.

I am throwing all this out there in the hope Orillia can regain some civic pride by actively celebrating outstanding achievement and historical landmarks. In the last decade, our cityís confidence and self-esteem have been undermined by, among other things, our monumentally futile attempts to build a recreation complex. At times, itís hard to believe this is the same city that, a century ago, built its own hydroelectric plants and manufactured its own automobiles.

Letís toss our nagging doubts aside, clear the air of pessimism and gloom and, for one bright season, focus our attention on the remarkable accomplishments of this wonderful city. When Orillia sets its best minds and bodies to work, we can not only do it right, we can do it better than anyone else. Weíve got the records to prove it.

Colin McKim

charlene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-05-2014, 03:35 AM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 73
Default Re: Lightfoot Museum in Orillia??

Does Orillia at this time have any bronzed statues of Gordon on display? Or anywhere else in Canada is there one? I would think Massey Hall would be one ideal place. Here in Austin, Texas we have a statue on our river bank (although they call it a lake) of Stevie Ray Vaughan. In Memphis and in Las Vegas there are statues of Elvis. It would be ideal in my opinion to have a display made up of three statues of Gordon at one site with each statue representing a different era. Maybe one from the 60s, the 70s and maybe the late 90s. How fitting a tribute for one of the greatest song writers to ever grace his pen upon paper.
dray7austin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-05-2014, 08:34 AM   #3
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,592
Default Re: Lightfoot Museum in Orillia??

Anything like a statue would be incumbent on Gordon agreeing to it... Massey Hall is undergoing a total retrofit soon and at that time any busts/statues etc. would be considered for installation.
There was a gorgeous bust made of him in 2009 but it remains with the sculptor... Three pages of discussion/video and photos:
charlene is offline   Reply With Quote

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