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    Orillia, Ontario: A Vibrant Community with a Rich History

    Orillia, located in Simcoe County, Ontario, is a bustling city known for its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and recreational opportunities. With a population of approximately 31,000 residents, Orillia offers a high quality of life and a strong sense of community spirit. In this community profile, we will explore the history of Orillia, the current real estate market, recreational opportunities, transportation options, and demographics.


    Welcome to Orillia, Ontario, just over 130 kilometers away from Toronto, Orillia is known as a tourist destination, especially for nature lovers and cottagers. That’s because of its lakefront location and proximity to the world-famous Muskoka. Orillia’s economy is based largely on service industries, although there are some manufacturing businesses located in the city. 

    Orillia is a great place to live, work, and buy real estate. The city has a strong economy and offers many recreational opportunities. It’s also a culturally diverse city with plenty of festivals and events to enjoy. If you’re looking for a great community to call home, Orillia is a great option.

    Read on to learn about this historic Ontario community whether you’re thinking of settling here permanently, interested in the cottage lifestyle, or just thinking of passing through.

    History of Orillia

    Orillia’s rich history dates back to the early 1800s when the area was first settled by European immigrants. The city’s name is derived from the French phrase “Orillac,” which means boundary or shore. In the mid-1800s, Orillia became a hub for lumber and shipping industries, with sawmills and boatyards operating along the shores of Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching.

    In the late 1800s, Orillia’s economy shifted towards tourism and agriculture, with hotels and resorts sprouting up along the lakes. One of the city’s most famous residents, Stephen Leacock, a renowned Canadian author, spent his summers in Orillia and wrote several books that featured the city.

    Today, Orillia is a thriving city with a rich history and a bright future. The city’s heritage is celebrated through events such as the Mariposa Folk Festival, the Stephen Leacock Festival, and the Orillia Scottish Festival.

    Jobs and the Economy in Orillia

    Orillia’s economy is based largely on service industries, although it’s also known for manufacturing and government services. The city has a number of banks, law firms, and other professional services businesses, though most new residents coming to the area do so to enjoy their retirement or live closer to nature.

    Since the town is located less than a two-hour drive from Toronto, some of its working-age residents commute into nearby cities, especially nearby Barrie, which is just a short drive away down Highway 11.

    Culture in Orillia

    Orillia is culturally diverse, and its many festivals and events reflect this diversity. Some of the most popular festivals in Orillia include the Mariposa Folk Festival, the Orillia Jazz & Blues Festival, and the Orillia Winter Carnival. There are also several art galleries and museums located in Orillia, including the Orillia Museum of Art and History, the Orillia Opera House, and the Couchiching Conservatory of Music.

    Recreational Opportunities in Orillia

    Cities of Orillia’s size offer a variety of cultural and social activities which more metropolitan cities don’t cater to. Folk festivals, close proximity to nature and outdoor activities, and rustic splendor that big cities lack are just a few of the options in Orillia.

    For starters, Orillia has over 150 shops and events to explore that would appeal to all types of people. The city’s website has a comprehensive list of activities, but a few of the highlights include:

    One of the town’s draws is a “Downtown Dollars” program. These local denominations of currency serve as gift certificates that work at most downtown shops and restaurants. They’re just another piece of unique local appeal which incentivizes activity in the community and creates a sense of community around Orillia’s historic downtown core.

    Real Estate in Orillia

    Orillia’s real estate market is strong, with a mix of historic homes, modern developments, and waterfront properties. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the average price of a home in Orillia was $582,000 as of March 2023, a 25% increase from the previous year. The city’s real estate market is competitive, with low inventory and high demand from buyers.

    The most popular neighborhoods in Orillia include West Ridge, which features newer homes and easy access to Highway 11, and North Ward, which boasts a mix of historic homes and walkable streets. Waterfront properties are also in high demand, with homes on Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching in Orillia commanding premium prices.

    If you’re thinking of purchasing in the Barrie/Orillia/Lake Simcoe area, be sure to take a look at our community search tool. It’s a fast, easy, and convenient way to browse MLS property listings from all across GTA and the Southern Ontario area.

    Use it to search specific regions in Ontario based on your personal criteria, or check out the custom property search tool – the fastest way to find your dream home in Toronto and the GTA.

    Transportation in Orillia, Ontario

    Orillia is located approximately 135 kilometers north of Toronto and is easily accessible by car, bus, and train. The city is located just off Highway 11, which connects to Highway 400 and provides easy access to the Greater Toronto Area.

    The city is also served by Orillia Transit, which operates several bus routes throughout the city. The Orillia transit system provides connections to neighboring communities and connects to the GO Transit system, which offers service to Toronto and other destinations in the Greater Toronto Area.


    Orillia has a diverse population of approximately 31,000 residents, with a median age of 44.6 years. The city has a high rate of homeownership, with 71% of residents owning their homes. The average household income in Orillia is $86,000, which is higher than the provincial average of $76,000.

    The city’s population is predominantly white (92%), with smaller populations of Indigenous peoples (3%), Asian (2%), and Black (1%) residents. Orillia has a growing population of immigrants, with 10% of residents being foreign-born.


    Orillia, Ontario, is renowned for its commitment to education, offering residents a diverse array of educational opportunities that cater to learners of all ages. The city is served by the Simcoe County District School Board and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, both of which operate several public and Catholic schools offering high-quality education from kindergarten through to Grade 12. 

    For those seeking post-secondary education, Orillia is home to the Orillia Campus of Georgian College, which provides a wide range of diploma and degree programs in various fields of study. Additionally, Lakehead University’s Orillia campus offers undergraduate and graduate programs, contributing to the city’s vibrant academic atmosphere. With its strong educational infrastructure, Orillia supports lifelong learning and fosters a well-educated community.


    Orillia, Ontario, is a vibrant community with a rich history, strong sense of community spirit, and a wide range of recreational opportunities. The city’s real estate market is strong, with a mix of historic homes, modern developments, and waterfront properties. Orillia offers easy access to transportation, with Highway 11 connecting to the Greater Toronto Area and a transit system that provides connections to neighboring communities.

    The city’s demographics are diverse, with a growing population of immigrants, and a high rate of homeownership and household income. With its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and strong community spirit, Orillia is a great place to call home.

    Thinking of Buying Real Estate in Orillia, Ontario?

    Frank Leo & Associates are here to put 30 years of experience helping 1,000’s of people buy and sell homes to work for you. Browse our Toronto & GTA homebuyers guide for a comprehensive understanding of how to find the right approach when buying real estate in today’s market, or connect with one of our friendly, helpful staff to get started on your home buying journey. 

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