Ask an Ontario high school graduate what she knows about Orillia and she might tell you it is the home of Stephen Leacock, author of Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Ask her the same question five years from now, and there is a good chance she will tell you Orillia is home to Lakehead University’s southern Ontario campus — her own Alma Mater!
Lakehead University opened the Orillia Campus
in temporary quarters, a red brick heritage building in downtown Orillia, in 2006. The Charter Class numbered 120 students. Since then, enrolment has grown to 444 students and the University has developed a plan to open Phase I of a permanent campus in the fall of 2010. The first new campus building, situated on 85 acres of agricultural land within Orillia city limits, will be an energy-efficient structure designed to accommodate up to 1,500 students.
Orillia is located in Simcoe County on the shores of two connected lakes: Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching. It is a vibrant community of about 30,000 people who live within easy driving distance of Lake Muskoka, Georgian Bay, and Algonquin Provincial Park. The city is northeast of Barrie on Highway 11, 135 km north of Toronto
What makes Orillia such an interesting choice for Lakehead are the many parallels that exist between that city and Thunder Bay. Both refer to themselves as “sunshine” cities. Both are situated on the edge of Canada’s Great Lakes water system, and both have strong connections with neighboring First Nations communities.
How fitting that in 2005, after being approached by Orillia Mayor Ron Stevens and other community leaders, Lakehead University should agree to explore the feasibility of creating a new campus. Here was an ideal opportunity to help meet the educational aspirations of the citizens living in Simcoe County while positioning Lakehead University for growth in a time of changing demographics in Northwestern Ontario.
For years, Northwestern Ontario population has been decreasing. Despite the increasing Aboriginal population, the pool of eligible high school level university applicants is on the decline. Not so for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and surrounding region. There, the demand for university spaces continues to grow at a rapid rate.
Lakehead University President Fred Gilbert explained the strategy behind Lakehead University Orillia Campus in a letter to the editor published May 3, 2008, in Thunder Bay's Chronicle-Journal newspaper, saying: “As the prospect of declining student enrolment loomed, we strengthened marketing efforts to attract more southern Ontario students to the University. This has met with some success but it was apparent that we needed a campus close to the GTA if we were to tap into the one major growing student market in the province. The business plan for the Orillia campus is on target, and the campus is predicted to be self-sufficient based on its enrolment and, in fact, overall would produce revenue that would help support the home campus...
"We are committed to Northwestern Ontario as we now are to Orillia, but without the latter the Lakehead University of the future would be a much poorer institution with a far different capacity for impacting the Northwestern economy than we now have. Both Thunder Bay and Orillia will profit from a Lakehead University that is vibrant, adaptive, and progressive in the face of changing environments and realities."
NEW CURRICULUM. NEW FACULTY. NEW OPPORTUNITIES
Lakehead University Orillia Campus has a lot to offer the academic community in Thunder Bay, says Lakehead's Vice-President (Academic) and Provost, Laurie Hayes. "The new campus provides a fresh space for Lakehead faculty to reach the University’s goal of educating students who are independent critical thinkers and who are aware of their social and environmental responsibilities."
Dr. Kim Fedderson
Indeed, the main feature of the Orillia curriculum is Inquiry-based learning with an interdisciplinary focus, says the Campus Dean, Kim Fedderson. He is referring to the new four-year Honours Bachelor of Arts and Science degree program, which is offered only at Lakehead University Orillia Campus.
Fedderson is a Professor of English who joined Lakehead in 1989 and served as Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities for six years before taking on the role of Vice-President, Academic and Student Services, at Confederation College in 2006. He left the College and returned to Lakehead University in January 2008, this time, as Dean of the campus.
"Inquiry-based learning is designed to develop students’ skills as critical thinkers, interdisciplinary problem-solvers, researchers, and communicators," says Fedderson. "In Inquiry-based learning, students look at the question from many different perspectives. They draw on information and knowledge from a variety of disciplines. And they become aware that the solution they come up with is only one of many possible solutions. Students learn how to learn and become flexible and adaptable in their thinking."
Students enrolled at Lakehead University Orillia Campus may choose from several degree programs including Arts and Science, Education, Business Administration, and Social Work. As the campus grows, new programs will be added such as Health Studies and Environmental Studies.
Last April, Lakehead University Orillia Campus hosted its first University Community Colloquium attended by about 100 community members. They spent the day discussing the question: What kind of university campus should we be building for current and future students in Simcoe County? According to Fedderson, the information gathered will be used to develop a Strategic Plan for the Lakehead University Orillia Campus, including an Academic Plan, an Enrolment Management Plan, and a revised Business Plan.
Kim Fedderson's passion for Lakehead University Orillia Campus is based on his experience of Lakehead University as a special place. "Lakehead is committed to student-centred learning and high-quality research, and is sincere in its desire to help students realize their potential. I believe these unique qualities should be shared widely throughout the province and the country," he says.
President Fred Gilbert believes Lakehead University Orillia Campus is a strategic move to ensure the long-term sustainability and vitality of Lakehead University. "It positions the University to capitalize on the demand for postsecondary education in Simcoe County and the Greater Toronto Area. It markets the programming available in Thunder Bay more effectively when students can experience the quality of education that Lakehead offers closer to their homes. It provides an experimental base for new degree offerings and teaching modalities. It provides the City of Orillia and Simcoe County with an educational resource that will have long-term economic and social impacts. It also realizes the ‘Simcoe College’ dream that Orillia citizens have harbored for the last half century in the form of a new campus of an established and respected Ontario university.
"All this will unfold in a way that builds capacity for Lakehead University Thunder Bay Campus by helping to attract southern Ontario undergraduate students there as well as to Orillia. Likely, many Orillia-based graduates of undergraduate programs, who would not otherwise attend Lakehead University, will consider doing post-graduate work in Thunder Bay.
"Lakehead University Orillia Campus will be built to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum standard, meaning it will be a model for all university campuses, and the first North American one entirely to be developed to such demanding environmental expectations. As such, it will place Lakehead University in the desirable position of being a continental leader in energy conservation, ecological awareness, and social consciousness. Environmental academic programs will find a natural home at the campus.
"In summary, Lakehead University Orillia Campus is one of the most critical decisions ever made by Lakehead University. It will pay long-term dividends to the partners involved by revitalizing the University and Orillia."
Sunshine City Quiz
- The Village of Orillia was incorporated in the same year as this important
Canadian event. Can you name the year and the event? Reveal the answer
- Ontario’s former Lieutenant Governor, The Honorable James K. Bartleman, was born in Orillia and his mother is from a First Nations community near Orillia. What is the name of that First Nations Community? Reveal the answer
Rama Mnjikaning First Nation
- This famous Canadian singer/songwriter grew up in Orillia. Who is he? Reveal the answer
- What are “The Narrows” and why are they significant from an archaeological perspective? Reveal the answer
The Narrows is a small waterway that connects Lakes Couchiching and Lake Simcoe where there is marine archeological evidence of ancient fishing weirs used by Huron and Iroquois people to trap fish.
- Orillia was used as the basis for a fictional town in Stephen Leacock's 1912 book Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. What is the name of that fictional town? Reveal the answer
- What connection does the Ontario Provincial Police have to Orillia? Reveal the answer
Orillia is the site of the OPP General Headquarters.
- This famous Canadian lived in Orillia during his teen years and trained at the Orillia Figure Skating Club. What is his name? Reveal the answer
- This Canadian painter and member of the renowned Group of Seven comes from Orillia. Who is he? Reveal the answer
Franklin Carmichael, RCA. His best known pieces are titled Autumn Woods, Lake Superior, and Northern Tundra.
- What is the name of the French explorer who visited the Orillia area in the early 1600s? Reveal the answer
Samuel de Champlain
- The name Orillia is thought to originate from a word meaning "shore of a lake or river" in this language. What language is it? Reveal the answer
- Jake Gaudaur Sr. held the world’s title in this sport for five years (1896 to 1901). He practiced on Lake Couchiching near his home at The Narrows. What is the sport? Reveal the answer
Sculling. In 1892 Gaudaur and F. Hosmer won the doubles scull championship of the world, defeating Ned Hanlon and William O’Connor. In 1896 he won the world’s singles sculling championship when he defeated Jim Stanbury of Australia on the Thames River.
- This artist is one of Canada’s best known women sculptors, noted for her work in monumental sculpture, especially that of King George VI in Niagara Falls, the war memorial in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and her monument of John Graves Simcoe. Who is she? Reveal the answer
Elizabeth Wyn Wood, RCA. A bronze bust of Stephen Leacock by Elizabeth Wyn Wood graces the Orillia Public Library.
This quiz was compiled with assistance from the Orillia Public Library