The History of Neywash Street, Orillia Ontario

Neywash street is one of Orillia’s oldest and well-traveled residential roads, running east to west throughout the central downtown area. Host to some incredible historic homes and buildings, it holds a dear spot in this realtors heart as both our RE/MAX office and, my childhood home lies on this stretch of road. Let’s dive and explore the history of one of Orillia’s oldest streets.

Firstly, it would be helpful for those readers who might not be familiar with Neywash St. if I show you where it is. See the highlighted section of the map below.

Neywash is approximately 1 km of road.

Even though it is short in length, the history of this street runs deep. There are several designated Ontario Heritage Homes and historic buildings on the street.

The Tisdale House – 63 Neywash Street

Designed and built in 1896, this beautiful Queen Anne style home belonged to a wealthy local banker and businessman named William Bousfield Tisdale. The lot on which the home was built on was crown land that was designated to St James Church in 1857. When the church wanted to build a new chapel, it needed the funds and decided to sell this portion of land to a local banker, Tisdale, for $1,200 – the amount needed to cover construction costs. Tisdale lived in the home for nearly 15 years before passing away. The home was sold for a whopping $8,056 in 1912 (with inflation would be for around $220,000 today). It was designated as an official Ontario Heritage site in 1996 and today it remains as a bed and breakfast.

The Longford Villa – 42 Neywash St

One of Orillia’s oldest and dearest homes! This site is home to some of Orillia’s first European settler families. In 1845, Scottish Capt. Allan MacPhearson traveled to Orillia and settled on the site where the Longford Villa is now located. He built a small cottage and lived there until the home was purchased by one time Orillia Mayor and Barrister – John McCosh. McCosh built the current building that we know and love today, which was soon after purchased by William Thomson, son of Lumber Tycoon Mr. John Thomson of Longford Mills. The plot is still well maintained and can be enjoyed while walking by on Neywash or Peter streets.

The Begg House – 9 Neywash Street

This beautiful home was built by Scottish immigrants Alexander and Emily Begg in 1876 and owned by the family for 58 years. Not only does it have a lot of historical significance in our community, but it was also the home I grew up in as a child, and holds my earliest memories.

A picture of my Mom and Grandma Nonnie in front of our home at 9 Neywash circa 1969. As you can see, the large trees which currently stand, are not there. My Dad planted those when I was growing up and are now well over the height of the home! Thankful for the many wonderful memories in this home.

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church

A sight for any sore eyes, the St. Andrews Presbyterian Church stands high and mighty, overlooking all of Neywash Street. The church congregation was formed in 1855, and in 1889 this present building was built to accommodate their growing needs for a larger fellowship hall and Sunday school.
As you can see, the church’s architecture is extremely unique and asymmetric with its 3 towers and dozens of various sized windows. In 1921, a memorial organ was donated to the church and was the largest of its time in Canada. The organ is still in the church today and has been played by hundreds of talented local musicians.

Canada Wood Specialties Co.

If you grew up in Orillia in the 70s or before, you probably remember the Canada Wood Factory & Lumberyard, located at the bottom of Neywash St, where Metro is now. This site had been occupied with industrial development for nearly a century. What started off as a factory making wooden pails using wooden lumber scraps from the Longford Lumber Yard not too far away, eventually evolved into a woodworking enterprise. Canada Wood Specialties Co. manufactured a variety of wooden mechanical parts, as well as custom products such as golf tees, coat hangers, rulers, etc. Eventually, the site of the factory closed and was transformed into commercial land for a grocery store, other shops & parking.

The Maples Hotel – 107 Neywash Street

Still standing today, the Maples Motel has been at 107 Neywash St. for 50+ years. It was named after the large maple trees that once lined its entrance – no longer there. One of the motel’s more notorious guests over the years is son to the famous Canadian author Stephen Leacock, Stephen Lushington Leacock II. The Maples motel is still operating today.

RE/MAX Orillia

Last but not least, how could we not mention the RE/MAX Orillia building, located at 97 Neywash St. Before it was RE/MAX, the Stoutt family owned and operated an independent real estate agency since the 1950s. The RE/MAX Orillia trademark was bought by the Stoutts in 1982 and has grown over the years to over 45 agents operating in the Orillia area.
My earliest memories of this building come from when I was just a little girl and would deliver newspapers for the Orillia Packet & Times newspaper on Neywash St, stopping every morning with a stack of papers for the real estate agents. Although the building has changed dramatically over the years, the heart and community at REMAX Orillia is just as warm and inviting as it was back then.

Thank you for taking the trip with me down memory lane – better known as Neywash Street. I hope you enjoyed learning about the incredible history of the street and make sure to check it out on your next summer walk! Just steps away from the downtown main street and couchiching beach, you won’t be disappointed!

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