Doors Open Orillia


Jacqueline Soczka
Manager of Culture
50 Andrew Street South
Orillia, ON L3V 7T5

Phone: 705-325-4530
Fax: 705-329-2176

Map to this Location
Email Contact
View City of Orillia Website

Doors Open


 Two days, One Great Debate

On June 16th and 20th we will be commemorating Orillia and it's sporting heritage. Follow the upcoming activities on facebook!


June 16th - Orillia's Greatest Athlete Debate

Thank you to all that came out to participate in this exciting event. We would also like to thank all who watched and voted from home. We had 515 votes in total with Walter being crowned the big winner!

Athletes   Walter
Walter the Winner Ref


June 20TH - Full Day Event

Visit doorsopenontario.on.ca/orillia for details (times vary).

The City of Orillia Parks, Recreation and Culture Department is pleased to announce this year's Doors Open sites! 


Sailing Club
Coldwater MillCouchiching Golf
Heritage District

Friends of the OPP Museum

Leacock Museum
Historic Site
Manticore Books

Orillia's Farmer's Market

Orillia Fire

Orillia Lawn
Bowling Club

Orillia Opera House

Orillia Public

Orillia Museum
of Art & History
The Agency Inc.
(Please note that this
site is no longer available)

Coldwater Canadiana Museum



Started in 2002 by the Ontario Heritage Trust (OHT), Doors Open commemorates and celebrates the fascinating stories that breathe life into our buildings and our community. Each year, the Trust selects a theme for the event that highlights an important milestone in our province's history. In 2014, Doors Open Orillia welcomed a record number of visitors to the City in commemoration of the First World War. This year, the event will shine a spotlight on the people, places and events that have been influential to the history of sport in Ontario in celebration of the Pan/Parapan American Games. However, each site has its own story to tell. 

For details on activities happening at each site, visit doorsopenontario.on.ca/orillia.


Orillia's Greatest Athlete Contest

Referred to as "the town of champions", Orillia has been home to a long list of remarkable athletes and sporting events. Our history includes Canadian medalists in track and field, lacrosse, hockey, rowing, cross country, canoeing, shooting, curling and much more. The question posed by the organizing committee was: Who is our greatest athlete? On Tuesday, eight of our top champions were profiled in a live televised debate where Walter Henry came out on top. This weekend, visitors at this year's Doors Open event will have an opportunity to weigh-in.

Vote For Your Favourite Orillia Athlete!

Choose from one of our eight nominees below or add a name of your choosing to the ballot!

And the nominees are...

Jake Gaudaur, world sculling champion 1896-1901

Walter Knox, world all-around (decathlon) champion 1914, multiple world record holder

Rick Ley, NHL hockey player and WHA top defenceman award winner, 1968-81

Brian Orser, world figure skating champion and two time Olympic silver medalist, 1981-88

Harry Gill, North American All-around champion, discus world record holder, 1898-1901

Walter Henry, Canadian Flyweight boxing champion 1958-67, two time Olympian

Toyin Olupona, 5 time Canadian 100m sprint champion 2005-10, world championship quarter-finalist, NCAA All-American

Lovering Jupp, leader of Orillia's hockey teams who won 3 Ontario Championships in 4 years, 1912-15

Biographies of the contenders can be found below and will also be on display at these participating Doors Open sites along with ballet boxes to cast your vote.  

Leacock Museum

Orillia Lawn Bowling Club

Orillia Museum of Art and History

Orillia Public Library

Follow us on Facebook or check back here on Monday to find out Saturday's winner.  Will it be one of these eight or a write-in candidate? 


Contender Bios Below


Jake Gaudaur Sr.               Harry Gill                          Walter Henry                      Lovering Jupp



Walter Knox                       Rick Ley                            Toyin Olupona                     Brian Orser



Jake Gaudaur Sr.  (1858-1937)



Born and raised in Orillia, Jake Gaudaur won his first sculling race at age 17.  He went on to win more than 200 races in his long career.  Training with the great Ned Hanlon, at age 19 he defeated the master to ascend to the elite level in probably the world's most popular sport then.  Before the age of motor boats, rowing was a pervasive sport worldwide.  Throughout the 1890's Gaudaur was virtually unbeatable, accumulating a fortune in professional matched races.  In 1892, teamed with George Hosmer, Gaudaur won the world professional double sculls title in a match against Hanlon and his partner, on Lake Couchiching, in front of a hometown crowd of 10,000 people.  The next year he set a world record for the single sculls three mile race, improving it the next year to a time that has never been beaten!  Even with his old technology, Gaudaur's times are still competitive with the best in the world today.  After winning the Championship of America three consecutive times he was awarded the trophy permanently.  In 1896, at the ripe old age of 38 he travelled to London, England to easily win the world single sculls title in a match on the Thames River against eight time world champion Jim Stanbury.  He held that title for five years.   Gaudaur claimed the secret to his success was the wonderful training conditions on the two lakes in Orillia, where he retired to a life as a much sought fishing guide.


  • World Champion for nine years
  • Competed in a sport contested in almost every country in the world
  • Sought out and defeated all the top contenders the world over


  • It was a time when fewer people had the time, energy or wherewithal to partake in sport
  • He was a professional, which, in those days, raises questions of ethics as there was rampant gambling, dirty tactics and race fixing in all the unregulated professional sports


Harry Gill (1876-1956)

Track and Field 


Harry Gill was born and raised in nearby Coldwater but moved to Orillia as a young man and always considered it home.  After dominating the local track and field scene, he entered the Canadian All-around Championship in 1898 as an unknown 22 year old.  The all-around was a precursor to the decathlon where the athletes competed in 10 events over one afternoon.  Gill won the title that year and defended it again in 1899 and 1900.  Confident he had no challenges left in Canada, he entered the North American All-around championship in 1900, travelling to New Jersey to compete.  He was an unknown there, and was up against the three-time defending champion and the man who won it in 1896.  Gill dominated.  The defending champion, in a fit of pique at being so out-performed, quit after five events.  Gill's score stood as a record for the next five years.  In 1901 Harry, in a track meet in Toronto, broke the world record for the discus and cleared the high jump bar just two inches below the world record.  His versatility was remarkable.  But his career ended prematurely.  In the fall of 1901 he took a job as track coach at the University of Iowa for two months.  In those days that was enough to make you a professional.  When Harry showed up in Buffalo to defend his North American title he was called out as a professional and disqualified.  In 1902, at age 26, he had one last fling winning the North American Professional All-around title with a score better than his 1900 effort.  He then retired from competition and embarked on a legendary career as track coach at the University of Illinois. 


  • Dominant multi-event athlete for four years, winning the North American All-around title
  • Set a world record in discus and the North American record in the All-around


  • Retired before reaching his peak abilities

Walter Henry (1937-  )

Amateur boxer 


Walter Henry was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Ireland and moved to Orillia at age 20.  He burst onto the Canadian boxing scene in 1958 with his first of nine Canadian flyweight (under 52 kg or 112 lbs) boxing titles.  He had always loved boxing and had a lightning fast left hook, so when he discovered a boxing gym in Gamebridge his course was set.  That course would take him to a career 403 win and just 18 loss career.  In 1958 he was selected to represent Canada in the British Empire Games and then won Orillia's Athlete of the Year award.  Returning to Ireland in 1962, Walter won the Irish boxing championship, establishing his international credentials.  His big events came in the 1960's with two appearances at the Olympic Games and a bronze medal win in the 1967 Pan Am Games.  In Tokyo at the 1964 Olympics Walter tied for 17th place losing in the first round to a fifth place finisher.  In 1968 in Mexico City Walter finished up tied for 9th place again losing to an eventual fifth place finisher in the second round.  Boxing is a sport contested in every major country in the world giving the competition a very deep pool of talent.  That makes Walter's accomplishments impressive, but also note the common wisdom that, in general, the lighter the weight category, the greater the turnover in champions, making Walter's nine Canadian Championships loom larger.  Walter Henry was inducted into the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame in 1974, soon after his retirement.  


  • Canadian flyweight boxing champion for almost a decade
  • Twice represented Canada at the Olympics
  • Competed in a sport with a very deep pool of competitors


  • While representing Canada proudly, maintained a position just out of the top ten in the world


Lovering Jupp (1893- ? )



Love Jupp, after making Orillia's junior (under-20) hockey team at age 16, soon became its star player.  He was already the star on the town's Ontario champion juvenile lacrosse team.  In both 1911 and 1912 his "Orillia Younkers" teams were runners-up in the 50 team Ontario league, both times splitting the two-game finals series.  Seventeen year-old Jupp was the Ontario all-star at rover in 1912.  Then in 1913 the boys went all the way, bringing Orillia its first Ontario Championship, dominating Woodstock in both games of the final.  Jupp, in the first game of the two-game final, scored two goals and assisted on two more in the first period, single-handedly putting the game out of reach for Wiarton at 4-0.  They had only lost one game in two years.  Jupp was their blonde-haired "speed demon", the rover who covered the whole rink.  With an "enormous appetite for hard work" he was "a little hero all evening" in the final game. Graduating to the Intermediate ranks for 1914 (the over-20 aged players from all but the biggest 6 communities in Ontario, who played in a separate senior league) the boys again were Ontario runners-up after a very close split of the two finals games.  They faced the legendary George Hainsworth in the Berlin goal, who made the difference, Jupp having "many great rushes in the game".  Then in 1915 Orillia won the Intermediate crown over Wiarton.  Most of his teammates had left for the war, and Jupp and McNabb led the new, young Younkers to the title.  At that time Jupp was touted as "the best rover in Canada".

That whole hockey team enlisted into the military as a unit after that game, to fight in WWI.  Jupp and teammate Ken McNabb were selected for the Sportsman's Battalion hockey team, led by Conn Smythe.  They tore up the Ontario Intermediate league but couldn't play the playoffs as they were called to France to fight.  Fifteen years later, after Smythe's Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup, he said, "of all the forwards it had ever been my good fortune to have play on his team, Orillia's Love Jupp was the greatest", remarking that Jupp would make his Leafs first line that Stanley Cup season!  


  • All-star team leader on Ontario championship hockey teams
  • His teams were league finalists every year he played


  • His career cut short by WWI, he never got to test himself in the professional ranks, retiring at age 21


Walter Knox (1878-1951)

Track and Field 


Walter's family moved to Orillia when he was 15 and he considered it home thereafter as he travelled the world.  Walter excelled at many sports right from the start.  His heyday started in 1900 when he won the Canadian pole vault championship.  But in an effort to make a living through sport, Walter turned to sports hustling, travelling to small towns across North America setting up matched races for enormous stakes, often using aliases and subterfuge to lure unwitting adversaries into a match.  Often he would surreptitiously step back into the amateur world to win championships, such as at the 1907 Canadian Track and Field championships where he, remarkably, won five diverse events against the reigning Canadian champions (100 yard dash, pole vault, long jump, discus and shot put).  He toured the highland Games circuit in Scotland for four summers becoming a legend there for his abilities and versatility.  In 1914 he capped his career, at age 36, by winning the title World All-Around Champion, the all-around being the precursor to the decathlon.  He had officially set world records in the 75 yard dash and the shot put, and, unofficially, bettered the world records in the 100 yard dash and the indoor and outdoor pole vaults.  After WWI, at the age of 42, Knox came out of retirement to win the Scottish pole vault and shot put championships, with a shot put mark that would have, incredibly, won him fifth place in the 1920 Olympic Games.  Knox was equally adept at each of the sprinting, throwing and jumping events as well as wrestling, where he won several high profile championships. 


  • Broke world records in three events requiring completely different skill sets:  sprints, shot put and pole vault.
  • Defeated many of North America's top sprinters at one time or another.
  • Was unchallenged for his world all-around title, even by the great American Jim Thorpe, who would not answer Knox's challenges. 
  • Entered his last track meet at age 56, winning a silver and bronze medal at a big provincial meet against athletes half his age.


  • Spent his best years on the hustling circuit competing under assumed names.  His athletic performances went unnoticed.
  • Was a con man, using his talents to "cheat" people out of their money.
  • Knox brazenly flouted the accepted amateur rules of his day, rules that dictated he could not earn any money from his abilities.


Rick Ley (1948-  )



Born in Orillia, "Ricky" Ley grew up in the Y's Men's hockey league here until his talents took him to Junior hockey in Niagara Falls at age 16.  There he won two Memorial Cups (national championships) in four years, the second time as team captain.  Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1966, 16th overall, he played four seasons for them.  In 1972 he jumped to the new rival World Hockey Association where he was named captain of the New England Whalers.  Over seven seasons his team won one league championship (AVCO Cup) and Ley was named an All-Star twice and won the league's best defenseman award once.  In 1979 the WHA was absorbed into the NHL and Ley played two more years for the Hartford Whalers alongside Gordie Howe.  In 1974 the WHA all-stars played a summit series with the great Russian team the NHL all-stars narrowly defeated two years earlier.  Ley was a stalwart on defence, being matched up against the star Russian Valerie Kharlamov, a sign of his status as the top Canadian defenceman.  Upon retirement the Hartford Whalers retired Rick Ley's #2.  In 2010 Ley was a charter inductee into the WHA Hall of Fame. 


  • All-star defenceman in WHA
  • WHA best defenceman award (Dennis A Murphy Award)
  • Spent most of his career as a team captain
  • Won junior and professional league championships
  • Had his number retired by the Hartford Whalers of the NHL
  • Charter inductee in the WHA Hall of Fame


  • Spent the bulk of his career in the WHA, a league purists (questionably) considered inferior to the NHL.
  • During the 1974 summit series, Ley lost his temper and started a fight with the unsuspecting Kharlamov, pummeling him and leaving him in a pool of blood.   Amid roiling controversy that almost ended the series, Ley publicly apologized.


Toyin Olupona (1985 - )



Toyin moved to Orillia in 1999 when her father set up his medical practice here.  She was starting grade 10.  Competing for Park Street high school, she dominated at OFSAA, winning the provincial gold medal in the 100 metre dash three years in a row.  She continued her winning ways on scholarship at the University of Tennessee, winning an NCAA indoor national title and two silver medals in the 100 outdoors.  She was an All-American.  In 2005, her year of graduation, she won her first Canadian 100m championship.  Then she followed that up, after a year off due to injury, with four more in a row from 2007-2010.  In 2005 Toyin represented Canada at the World championships.  Though recovering from an injury she still made it to the quarter-final round.  She twice won the 100 at the prestigious Harry Jerome International Track Classic in Vancouver.  She still holds the Ontario record for the indoor 50m sprint.  Her Olympic dreams were frustrated though.  In 2008 she won the Olympic Trials running into the wind, but was left off the team because her time of 11.38 did not meet the Canadian Olympic standard of 11.32.  Two weeks earlier, without the wind at a meet in Florida, she had run 11.29, but the officials refused to put her on the team. Toyin retired in 2011 to take a law degree, and is considering a comeback, at age 30, this summer. 


  • A remarkable 5 Canadian titles in the premier 100m race
  • Incredibly hard-working and fit athlete


  • Dominant in Canada, Toyin never was able to take that on to success at a major Games


Brian Orser (1961- )

Figure Skater 


Born in Belleville and raised in Penetanguishene, Brian Orser moved to Orillia in his early teens to join coach Doug Leigh at the Mariposa School of Skating.  At the age of 16 he broke into worldwide prominence with a fourth place finish at the World Junior Championships.  In just his second year at the senior level in 1981, Orser won the first of his eight consecutive Canadian Championships.  With his creative flair and tremendous jumping ability he was clearly heading for international stardom.  He did not disappoint.  In 1983 he won his first medal at World's, a bronze, setting himself up for the podium at the next Olympics.  At the Sarajevo Olympics he battled with the great American Scott Hamilton, settling for the silver medal. Orser won the free skates there but had weak compulsory figures, letting the gold slip away.  He moved up to the silver medal at the next three World Championships before finally winning the gold medal in 1987, throwing down the gauntlet for the 1988 Olympic gold. In winning the World's Orser became the first man to land two triple axels in a routine. At the Calgary Olympics, where he was Canada's flag-bearer, his event was one of the highlights of the Games, the famous "Battle of the Brians".  Here Orser's strong free skating routines set him up for the gold, but a disappointing third place in the compulsory figures dropped him to second place by the narrowest whisker to the American Brian Boitano. Upon retiring in 1989, Orser had finished in the medals at a remarkable seven consecutive World Championships.  Brian Orser was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1985 and raised to an Officer in 1989. 


  • World Champion and twice Olympic silver medallist in a highly competitive sport
  • Remarkably long career with medals at seven consecutive World Championships
  • First man to land the triple axel in competition


  • Came up just short on the biggest stage at the Olympics due to weak fundamentals in what many considered the outdated compulsory figures (which were dropped from future Olympics)