Couchiching Beach  & Veterans Parks  ◘ Kitchener Park  ◘ Tudhope Park

Orillia has one of the finest waterfront areas in Ontario. In fact, there are at least three public waterfronts that are well frequented here. The main waterfront is found at the foot of Mississaga Street (Orillia's "main drag") where it joins up with Centennial Drive. Here, the roads converge on the entrance to the Port of Orillia and Veterans Park, and to the far left if you follow the curve of the roadway you'll find the main entrance to Couchiching Beach Park, and numerous parking areas.

There are three separate areas that make up this main waterfront. Veteran's Park, The Port of Orillia and Couchiching Beach Park, and while these parks each have their own identity, one flows into the other creating a large open waterfront area for residents and visitors alike.

The area is a short walk from the downtown shopping area and is surrounded by "nearly waterfront" commercial properties. Fronting on Veteran's Park is the Royal Canadian Legion Building (Br. 34) and directly across from that the now-empty rail cars that once made up the Ossawippi Express Restaurant. Adjacent to the Legion is the popular Studebakers  with its outdoor patio that looks out over the lake and the patio at Tux II Nightclub. Between Tux and the Ossawippi is the entrance to a strip plaza containing a large Metro (grocery), Calvacade Photo and other smaller shops.

The waterfront is a hub of constant activity from spring to fall with numerous events scheduled within Couchiching Beach Park and a variety of outdoor-type shows at the Port of Orillia. Boaters come and go all season, while locals bring their children and dogs to play or walk in the park. Families hold reunions and picnics in the large open central field of the park, and the public sand beaches are seldom empty. There are play areas and equipment for children, picnic tables, park benches, boardwalks and paved pathways throughout the waterfront areas providing activity, or leisure for almost everyone of every age.

At the far end of Couchiching Beach Park the Acqua Theatre is in use for special events and Sunday Evening Concerts in the Park events, and this too is usually free (bring your own seating, there are a few benches but not enough for a crowd, but the surrounding hillside will hold a lot of folks.)

The park is home to events like the annual Scottish Festival, the Rotary Club's Fun Fest, and the Canada Day festivities, which are only a few of the many we see at the waterfront each year.

The Port of Orillia is also home to the Island Princes tour boat, docked at the large concrete "main dock" at the opening of the Port of Orillia. She plies the lakes filled with tourists and local residents on daily cruises and makes a colourful sight at the foot of Mississaga Street.

Scenes from the Waterfont

Orillia - AmphibiousCar
This is a familiar sight to any locals who spend much time down in the park (Couchiching Beach Park). There are a couple of people in the area who own these amphibious cars - cars that can travel on land (like a car) or in the water (like a boat). In terms of cars, they are pretty unique.  During the annual downtown classic and vintage car show, we sometimes see a few more of these cars and their owners show up. Some will even head down to the waterfront for a tour of the lake...in their car! While I haven't researched it, their numbers must be fairly limited, although there is (or was) a club for owners of this car.

Orillia - Veteran's Park reflected in the calm waters of Lake Couchiching.

Orillia Waterfront - Lucky Catch

What appears to be a hooded merganser on Lake Couchiching just off the beach at Couchiching Beach Park.This is probably the first and only time I've seen this. Since I'm not a birder, I'm not totally certain of the identification of the duck, but it isn't our usual Mallard.

Orillia - Nature in Motion

A stroll before dawn along the beach at Couchiching Beach park catches this duck skipping off the water as he takes of into flight.

Orillia - Park Bandstand

The bandstand in Couchiching Beach Park - a sight many are familiar with. This was built in 1901 - a very Edwardian structure, with "port hole" windows in the storage area at the bottom and victorian style railings on it's platform.

Orillia - Couchiching Boardwalk Winter

A view of the boardwalk along the Port of Orillia leading into Couchiching Beach Park - here a man and his dog stroll through the snowy walkway, passing benches and snow-covered trees.

Orillia - Veterans Park Pergola

A view through the wooden pergola in Veteran's Park to Lake Couchiching and the Port of Orillia's breakwall. The pretty tones of pink and blue fill the background and foreground.

Orillia - Harbour's SlowThaw

The waters fronting at Veteran Park adjacent to Orillia's harbour are thawing slowly in the late winter/early spring months. A ribbon of open waters run between the land and the still frozen water of Lake Couchiching. In the background, dawn is about to break, and houses along Cedar Island Road are still dark.

Orillia - Dark Sunrise in April

An oddly coloured sunrise over Cedar Island Road - the large and dark bank of clouds hides a reddish sun rising above the horizon to light the sky with it's day time blue, leaving the earthbound view in darkness.

Orillia -Veterans Park in July

A view of the stretch of Veteran's Park along Orillia's waterfront. Early morning is a good time to photograph the waterfront areas - the water is smooth as glass and reflects as well as a mirror. Once the boaters are up and about, you can count on the waves to ripple that smoothness for the rest of the day.

Orillia - Couchiching Reflections

A red sunrise viewed through the overhanging branches of a large old tree at Couchiching Beach Park. In the water, two ducks head for the small harbour beneath the branches.

Orillia - Port of Orillia, Park Bench

In a small corner just at the edge of the Port of Orillia sits a lonely bench. Above it, the trees are bursting into their spring blooms, while in the background one can see the Ossawippi Express Restaurant.

Orillia - Kids at Park


Kids posing on a bench at Veteran's Park on Orillia's waterfront, where there is plenty of interesting things for kids to do. Here, the breakwall at the Port of Orillia is seen in the background, dressed in early autumn colours.

Orillia - Couchiching Beach

Orillia Couchiching Beach Park - the popular waterfront park located at the foot of Mississaga Street and stretching over to the point where Bay Street begins. This is a view from the water of the long-standing picnic pavilion at the edge of the lake, next to the old "town dock".

Orillia - April Sunrise

April Sunrise - A soft sunrise in late April at the Port of Orillia.

Orillia - Life in Orillia (Calendar Cover Photo)

Orillia's Samuel deChamplain - The cover of my 2009 Calendar, titled "Life in Orillia", contained scenes from everyday life in the town (city?) of Orillia. I suppose Orillia is considered a city now, but to me it will always be a "town" - life is lived at a slower pace here, with a vital connection to wildlife and nature.

This is the Samuel deChamplain monument located in Couchiching Beach Park - a statue of much notoriety in Orillia. Complaints have been made about the natives being depicted as subservient, though the depiction seems more about the christian religion being taught to the natives by the "fathers", also depicted with the natives at the foot of the statue.

While no one wants to see any human beings pictured in a bad light, at the time of it's making (the monument), it would seem that the statue represents the historical aspects of the area, rather than to depict any person in a bad light. Can one change history? Or is the lesson one to be learned from history?

Also in recent years, Sam's sword mysteriously disappeared, only to be found many months later by a couple of teenagers. This photo is one where he still has his sword. Below, Sam, without his sword on a very misty and dark winter morning.


Samuel deChamplain - a closer view of the explorer.

Orillia - Dawn Harbour (7)

Dawn Harbour - Dawn over the sleeping boats at the Port of Orillia harbour on Lake Couchiching. Here, the sun has crested the horizon, but is hidden by a small bank of clouds, though it's rays are visible and are beginning to light the morning sky.

Orillia - Harbour at Dawn

Harbour at Dawn - In the hour before sunrise the Port of Orillia lies sleeping. Here, the boats are docked with their captain's asleep in the berths. The quiet, still water of the harbour reflects the scene, and in the background one can see the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 34) building. Orillia, Ont.

Orillia - Couchiching Beach Park Autumn View

Couchiching Beach Park Autumn - A view of Couchiching Beach Park on an early morning in the autumn - taken from one of the outer docks at the Port of Orillia, the wide angle view displays a perfect reflection of the park in the still water of Lake Couchiching.

Orillia - Docks in The Harbour

Docks in the Harbour - Empty piers at the Port of Orillia harbour in the early dawn. The light sprinkling of clouds adds a touch of drama to the sky as the sunrise begins. Orillia, Ont.

Orillia - Blue Mist Park

Blue Mist Park - Winter at the waterfront. The boardwalk heading into Couchiching Beach Park at Orillia's waterfront in a pre-dawn mist.

Orillia - Couchiching Dawn

Couchiching Dawn - Dawn over Lake Couchiching from the boardwalk at Couchiching Beach Park.


Harbour in Autumn - The Port of Orillia dressed in autumn colours.


Muskoka Chairs - colourful Muskoka Chairs fill the foreground, while in the background at the Port of Orillia one can see the Island Princess tour boat, and a larger visitor to the harbour - the Kawartha Voyageur.


Lake Couchiching - taken from the edge of the boat launch in the parking area at Couchiching Beach Park.


Morning's Sweet Kiss - a kiss of the rising sun on the harbour (Port of Orillia) shows the docked boats in early dawn. Some of the best sunrises to be found in Orillia can be had down at the waterfront.


Waterfront at Dawn - a warm yellow tone is provided by the rising sun on the waterfront area in front of the Royal Canadian Legion. Visible in this view is the large dock where the Island Princess sleeps.


Flocking Seagulls - seagulls are a common sight at the harbour and park, and they've been a problem in the downtown area and surrounding shops. Here, they are flocking at the docks at the edge of the Port of Orillia.


Dawn in Flight - seagulls in low flight over the waters of Lake Couchiching.


An Interest in Nature - kids exploring the reeds and water plants along the edge of the boardwalk at Veteran's Park. The waterfront has many things for children to explore - from the ducks and fish to the plants and gardens, and at the far end of Veteran's Park they can find the concrete Skate Park.


Homeless - the park at the waterfront is popular with just about everyone. Here, a man rests on a bench with his cart of treasure nearby.


Snow Covered Boardwalk - a view of the park down the boardwalk with it's white winter covering of snow.


Veteran's Park Waterfront - a view of the Veteran's Park portion of the waterfront, taken from the skate park.


Orillia Walking Trail Along Waterfront - a portion of the paved trail used by rollerbladers, bikers, and walkers that runs along the waterfront. Here, you can see part of Veteran's Park in the background.


Ice and Mist - a misty winter morning at the waterfront.


Winter at the Park - a winter view of Couchiching Beach Park with a heavy snow-cover. If one looks carefully, one can still see the "No Swimming" sign at the boat launch.


Misty November Morning - golden tones of early morning over the outer portion of Orillia's harbour. The rising sun catches the misty details and reflects off the water with a nostalgic feel.