Dr Town’s community involvement:
- Past President of the Orillia Chiropractic Association
- 11 years on the board of the YMCA, one
term as President
- on the MURF (recreation centre) design
- Chair of the Orillia Hall of Fame committee
- Past Chair of the YMCA Membership Advisory Committee
- Coach of the YMCA master’s swimming team
- YMCA archivist, author of a book on Orillia YMCA’s history
- World record breaking master’s swimmer
- Orillia’s “Athlete of the year” in 1996
- Honourary “Lifetime Member” of the Orillia Channel Cats Swim Club
- Voted “Orillia’s Favourite Chiropractor” 5 out of 7 years by
the readers of the Orillia Today newspaper!
- Member of the Lakehead University Student Engagement Committee
- Author of “Building Character, Stories From Orillia’s Remarkable YMCA, 1872-1955″
- Author of “Hot Foot, Walter Knox’s Remarkable Life as a Professional in an Amateur World”
Building Character, Stories from Orillia’s Remarkable YMCA
This book relates the Orillia YMCA’s ground-breaking position in the YMCA movement and its impact on the town. It was the first YMCA to invite women members, it built the only indoor pool north of Toronto for 40 years, it developed the largest Y’s Men’s service club in Canada, it groomed Mert Plunkett who created the famous “Dumbells” vaudeville troupe during WWI and Skid Watson, the legendary civic leader in Orillia. For years it was known as the “finest small town YMCA in North America”.
Orillia’s Walter Knox won the World All-around athletic championship in 1914. But he lived in an era of amateurism and to make money he was forced to become a con man, travelling across North America setting up high stakes matched races with local heroes, using assumed names. This biography traces his life in pursuit of both fame and money in this uneasy time in sport. He also was Canada’s Olympic coach twice, retired wealthy after discovering a gold mine and was the man most responsible for bringing physical education to the Ontario school system. This is the first detailed look at the life of a pre-WWI sports hustler.
Orillia’s Remarkable Lacrosse World Tour of 1907
The Orillia lacrosse team made the first round the world tour by any team in any sport. It was audacious. In Australia they played a series of games against the Aussie National Team that ended up as desperate as the 1972 Canada-Russia hockey series.
The Brechin Riot
In 1942 25 soldiers on leave headed from Orillia to Brechin and its bar for a good time. Their night ended up in a brawl with the men of Brechin in the middle of the main intersection of the village at midnight. There were repercussions.
The Orillia Riot
In 1842, just five years after the founding of Orillia (population of 100), 500 men descended on the village to bet on a sailing race. By late afternoon events descended into a brawl involving all 500 men, leaving the local magistrate to deal with it alone.
If you would like to hear Dr. Town’s talk on the Orillia and Brechin Riots click the link below
Orillia’s Civil War
The founding of Orillia is a sad tale of passive-aggressive abuse of the Natives who owned the land white settlers wanted. This book is a comprehensive telling of the story complete with original maps and research. Every person should read this story to understand the complex Native relations across Canada.
The Two Jacks
In 1905 two farm boys from Orillia became North American canoe racing champions. Their rise and then fall from prominence is a story wrapped up in the politics of the professional-amateur debate that raged in Canadian sport then.
The Incredible Younkers
Just before WWI Orillia produced a group of boys who dominated the Ontario Hockey League. In six seasons these young men went to the league finals in every single campaign, winning three championships. This book is one of the few in-depth looks at hockey when there was a rover, no forward passes, no substitutions and more violence than we see today.
A Waterfront for Everyone
Orillia’s wonderful waterfront was, for 100 years, an industrial wasteland. This book tells the story of how the waterfront was lost to business interests and then was reclaimed, thanks to one man and his political campaign in 1910. Original maps show how the waterfront changed at each stage of its life.
Taming Orillia’s Red Light District
Originally Orillia was as wild a town as any western cowtown. Brothels were a big part of that. This book traces the origins and then demise of the brothels including two big court cases – first, the murder in a brothel, and then the big sex scandal of 1895 after a 14-year old prostitute started naming names of her clients and ruined reputations.
The Tragedy that Shook Orillia
In 1888 five men went hunting but only four came home. The tragedy the consumed the town after the fact is a poignant tale.
Orillia’s X-ray Man
Just five weeks after the discovery of x-rays in 1895 a photographer in Orillia acquired a machine and began taking x-rays. For the next 70 years he and his sons were the sole providers of x-ray services in Orillia. This is a remarkable tale of brash persistence and public service that has been long forgotten.
Orillia’s Turbulent Winter of 1896
After a sex scandal rocked Orillia, the aroused moral reformers orchestrated a wholesale replacement of Town Council in the up-coming election. What followed was chaos with half the town’s administrators being fired and the entire fire company resigning in protest. This book has something to tell us about today’s political environment.
Lynch Him! An Orillia Constable’s Ordeal
The routine “drunk and disorderly” arrest was anything but routine. An hour later a mob was chasing the police constable down Orillia’s main street threatening to lynch him. Justice for Constable Moffatt would only come from the courts, but 100 years ago that was not a foregone conclusion.
A Hundred Thousand Welcomes
Two wildly different events helped the village of Orillia come of age in 1874.
In 1846 there was a Great Meeting in Orillia of all the Chiefs of the Native tribes from across Ontario. The government wanted them to make dramatic concessions which would change their lives forever. Most of the Chiefs agreed to the moves, but two, the Chiefs from the Orillia area, Yellowhead and Aisance, adamantly refused. This book outlines those two Chiefs and their histories interacting with the white government, to give some insight into their determined stance. At the meeting, which is covered in detail, they were heavily pressured by both their fellow Chiefs as well as the Government agents and religious leaders, to conform, but they held fast to their position. In the end the future path of all Ontario’s Native peoples were set in motion by decisions made at the fateful Great Meeting in Orillia.
If you would like to hear Dr. Town’s discussion on Yellowhead click the link below:
One Dead Cow
In 1912 Orillia’s Town Council was giddy over the establishment of a silver smelter in town. But, just two years later, its success came crashing to a halt with the death of one cow. The cow’s irascible owner took the smelter to court, sure his land had been poisoned by arsenic released by the smelter. It was the beginning of Orillia’s end as an industrial town.
If you would like to hear Dr. Town’s discussion on One Dead cow click the link below
The Spanish Flu: Orillia’s ordeal in 1918
In 1918 the Spanish Flu pandemic devastated Orillia. But in a remarkable rallying of the town, determined volunteer leaders set up programs to fight the scourge: an Emergency Hospital, volunteer nurses doing home visits, a kitchen that fed as many as 500 people twice a day and a complete shutting down of the town. As a result Orillia had one of the lowest infection and death rates in Canada. The epidemic was a triumph of “The Orillia Spirit”.
Orillia had had a long struggle with drunkenness. Twice the town voted to outlaw alcohol sales and twice they voted to bring booze back. The desperate campaigns leading up to those votes defined the town. “Booze!” brings to life the characters and issues that tore at the fabric of the community.
The Black Swamp Gang
Orillia’s “wild times” of lawlessness and debauchery were personified by the Black Swamp Gang, a cabal of young ruffians and bullies who terrorized the township and tan a sophisticated crime ring. Big Sandy McDuff, the biggest and badest man around, became a folk legend in the area. It took ten years for the law to catch up with him, but with his demise, Orillia took a big step in civilizing itself.
There’s A Monster In The Lake!
For 200 years there have been sightings of some kind of sea serpent rearing it’s head out of the waters of Lake Couchiching and Simcoe. Some accounts are dubious, but some are hard to question. During the frenzy of sightings in 1880 and 1881 the rival newspaper editors in Barrie and Orillia (one who believed and one who was skeptical) carried on an entertaining disagreement in their papers feeding the debate. Was there really a monster in the lake?