Train Station Gets a New Life

By John Swartz

The old train station at 150 Front Street South is back in business. The new owners have leased it to Greg Harris’s Triple C Collectables, who in turn subleased to a number of collectable retailers – and Jimi McKee.

“He said he wanted a local artist in here. He wanted kind of a music person, which is Tim, and he wanted a second time around person to start off with,” said McKee. His space in the building is not just a place to show his eclectic art pieces, he will work on new pieces there too.

“I usually come in and I sit at that desk and I paint,” he said. On one hand he thinks he’ll be a fixture there, but on the other hand you might not always find him if you drop in.

Jimi McKee

“I try not to (be here), only because I’ve got so much work right now,” McKee said. With others operating their businesses there, someone will always be around and ring him if you are itching to buy a piece. That said, he also think he’ll be spending a lot of time there.

“I don’t think I’ll be on the water this year. This is a great, new, old building that I think could become an attraction for the town of Orillia. Consequently, I want to give it a chance,” McKee said.

After all these years of using his Orchard Point home as a gallery, why does he think now is the time to have a gallery?

“With COVID and all, and the restrictions, there’s not a local business going on and consequently I thought, “You know, I’m going to get out in public a little more,”” McKee said.

The train station is the second one to occupy the site, and even the first one wasn’t there originally. It was built in 1880 by the Midland Railway at the foot of Mississaga Street.

In 1897 Grand Trunk Railway took over Midland and the Northern Railway, moving the station lock, stock, and luggage cart to the present site because three rail ines converged there.. It burned down in April 1916 and GTR rebuilt it a few meters west of the original site in 1917.

The last train rolled trough in 1995 or 1996. This writer and his two young, train enthralled, sons were there to see the end of an era. Eventually the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce moved in, Ontario Northland and Greyhound used it as a terminal, and you could go stand in a line to get your license plates renewed there.

Now when you walk through the doors, instead of seeing dozens of people patiently waiting their turn to drive away legally, you will see Tim Woodward’s collectable operation.

Tim Woodward

He’s got posters from area concerts (including the Orillia Spring Blues Festival and a nice souvenir foam core panel from a Burl’s Creek rock concert of years ago when the oldest rock band on the planet played there), other paper music items, music instruments (a set of drums priced perfect for a young person to start learning on), other instruments you can hit to make music, guitars and electronic music gear, some other knickknacks/household things and he collects glass top tables and modifies them.

“It’s just a farmhouse sort of approach. I will back fill (with) barn board underneath (the glass) and paint it just to get that effect,” Woodward said.

To the right is a lunch counter going by the name of MPV, which kind of ties into Triple C because the latter does sports cards and memorabilia. Harris and Matt Deshane will operate the food operation, while Bonnie Deshane manages the entire operation, and the weekend flea market.

Part of the building will be a railway museum soon, and Harris was brought in to utilize the remainder.

“We have the whole building,’ said Deshane. Originally there was only going to be one store selling collectibles, “We talked them into bringing other people in. We brought James (A Liquidation Inc) in first and then Jimi,” said Bonnie Deshane.

A Liquidation is interesting. Have you ever stumbled on Youtube videos of people who bought pallets of returned items from Amazon? This is what A Liquidation does, they buy up pallets of goods and put the items on their shelves and racks – and most of the items are in original packaging.

The lunch counter is about to open.

“My husband is going to be the cook,” said Deshane, “It opens up Monday.” They’ll be doing mostly sandwiches until a key piece of equipment arrives. “(We’ll have) anything we can make or warm up without using a stove until we get the hood.”

The outdoor flea market with 15 vendors and a BBQ has its first day Saturday.

“I run that.” Deshane said. “We were supposed to open earlier, but because of COVID restrictions; and now it’s all ready to go.” The market will operate every Saturday and Sunday. On opening day the folks running the hxmesweethxme fundraiser for the youth center’s Nelson Bell Scholarship will be on hand, as will Zain Campbell to perform some music at 12:30 p.m.

“That flea market will be packed,” McKee said.

One of the things concerning many Orillia residents was the fate of the building when it was sold by the City of Orillia last year. In 2017 council put it under protection by way of the Ontario Heritage Act. The building was sold above the $900,000 asking price and the new owners, Eric Pong and his partner, can develop the rest of the 2.4 acre site. Pong told SUNonline/Orillia earlier this year they intend to create a railway museum of worth in the building and possibly outdoors.

James Lizotte and Crystal Doyle

With more than 3600 square feet inside, there very well could be something substantial with the museum plan. Even so, there is one more vendor to outline.

James Lizotte and Crystal Doyle operate One Lucky Find. They have second hand clothing, household items, movies and music, wall hangings, rugs, lamps and toys to sell.

Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and to 6 p.m. other days of the week.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: The old Grand Trunk Railway station at 150 Front Street South.


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