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Old 06-01-2017, 06:59 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,602
Default LIGHTFOOT museum in Orillia??

yet more talk of a Lightfoot museum in Orillia... we went thru this several times over the years since at least 2000...right Bru?? Let's hope that this talk actually gets some action this time!


Ralph Cipolla remembers well the day he first arrived in the city that would become his long-time and much-loved home.

In 1955, the veteran Orillia councillor and businessman was eight years old and didn't speak English when he arrived at the city's train station with his brother, two sisters and mother, Giuseppina.

While that makes the station's history important to him, as well as others with similar experiences, Cipolla said the structure's architecture provides significance for those interested in preserving the city's heritage.

To that end, council committee has opted to seek a historic designation bylaw under the Ontario Heritage Act for the building that currently houses the local chamber of commerce along with a Service Ontario location and bus station.

“We're going to have to do the historical designation first, before listing it,” Cipolla said, noting the look and location make it a perfect spot for a high-end restaurant.

“There is a need for that type of restaurant. And the building could be kept.”

Constructed by the Grand Trunk Railway, the station was restored in 1989.

After being declared surplus by the city, staff received two unsolicited purchase offers last fall and were subsequently directed to list the property for sale through the city’s realtor. This past January, a property listing set a $950,000 asking price and the city received four offers.

Now, council wants to ensure the heritage designation bylaw is in place before selling the property – a move Cipolla supports.

“Unless we have a use for it, the taxpayers of Orillia shouldn't be saddled with it,” he said. “The city has no use for it, but developers would.”

But a fellow councillor, Tim Lauer, wants the building to remain in city hands, as he envisions a day Orillia will honour its, arguably, most famous son in an appropriate setting.

Lauer, who stands behind his opposition to selling the former train station on at 150 Front St. S. to private developers, said it would be an apt location for a museum celebrating Gordon Lightfoot.

“It's been talked about for years – about honouring Gordon Lightfoot,” Lauer said, pointing out the fact Lightfoot penned one of the nation's most iconic train songs, Canadian Railroad Trilogy, makes the building a perfect fit.

He said the building could also be used as a museum highlighting the city's rich industrial heritage, complete with period artifacts.

“I view the building as a heritage asset, and if we give it enough time, it will have a good public use.”

But Coun. Rob Kloostra said asking taxpayers to keep the property doesn't make economic sense and could lead to “donor fatigue,” since they're already involved with helping to fund the new recreation centre and may be asked to help build a new hospice.

As for Cipolla's story, his family's move to the area actually began weeks earlier, when they left Naples, Italy, aboard a Halifax-bound freighter. After arriving at the Nova Scotia city's Pier 21, the family hopped aboard a train bound for Orillia to reunite with father Carmine.

But when they stepped onto the train platform, their father wasn't there to greet them after mistiming the locomotive's arrival.

“We had a piece of paper with a Nottawasaga Street address on it,” Cipolla recalled. “We went there and found my father in the middle of shaving. He had half his face done and the rest was still covered with shaving cream.”

Cipolla said his father had earlier arrived in Canada and then sent for his family after getting established.

“He had been working for the CNR (Canadian National Railroad), starting in Vancouver,” he said. “Orillia was his last stop. He had the chance to stay here or go home, but he really liked it here.”
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Old 06-17-2017, 06:28 PM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: ontario, canada
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Default Re: LIGHTFOOT museum in Orillia??

no go
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