Sundial Inn

The once-famous Sundial Inn built in the early 1960's was a landmark on the northern edge of Orillia which greeted travelers heading too and returning from vacation in the Muskokas.

This swanky hotel and adjacent restaurant incorporated a 'Googie' or 'Popluxe' design into its architecture (a style which I absolutely love). Googie was a style popular in the late 1950's and 1960's and originated in southern California. This type of futurist architecture, influenced by car culture, and the Space / Atomic Age featured bold angles, upswept roofs (often cantilevered), geometric designs, colourful signs, and daring use of glass, steel, and neon.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for this post's purpose), very little effort was made to renovate and update the Sundial Inn. With business starting to decline, the Inn was sold to Travelodge in the mid 1990's. This was a time when area business was beginning to pick up with Casino Rama (located a short drive away) becoming a popular destination.

Again, unfortunately, the new owners did very little to improve the facilities at the Inn. A small tower was added to increase the number of rooms to just under a hundred for the increased demand for accommodations from the nearby Casino.

By 2004, the round 'Googie-riffic' restaurant had closed it's doors and Travel Advisor members were already cautioning would-be guests not to venture into the pool. Coupled with the opening of the luxury 300-room hotel at Casino Rama, the end was in site.

Last year, the courtesy shuttle, operated by the Casino was canceled which may very well have been the last nail in the coffin. The Sundial Inn closed its doors on Friday 1st, 2008.

There was an interest to have the Sundial redeveloped to serve as a senior's residence but that too had fallen through. Lamentable as it is, there is very little nostalgia in Central Ontario for a wonderful hotel such as this. I can only hope that the wrecker's ball will spare the sundial on the restaurant's roof.


Approximately 4 hours after JFK and I left the saucer-shaped canopy at the Sundial Inn caved, tearing a hole in the roof.
Fire & Emergency as well as the mayor attended the scene to survey the damage. A combination of snow load and metal fatigue are thought to be contributing factors.
Royal Host, the owner has fenced the area off and are collecting repair estimates . . . I personally think they would rather see the buildings demolished and the property sold.


Odd to think that I may have been one of the last people to walk though the restaurant entryway before the structural collapse. I also have a feeling that a few people are riding on my coat-tails on this one . . .

The old place is starting to get a lot of attention from the Orillia Packet & Times as well as the Orillia Municipal Heritage Committee. I hate to tell Joanna Fonseca (past chair of the Committee shown below snapping a pic) that the only way to save this building is to amputate the hotel and find a developer willing to drop a lot of money into restoration of a unique 'retro-trendy' restaurant.


CopySix said...

Within 24-hours AFTER my exploration . . . .

Canopy collapses at Sundial Inn
Orillia Packet & Times, Saturday 17 February, 2008

The saucer-shaped canopy at the Sundial Inn caved in Friday afternoon, tearing a hole in the roof of the Orillia landmark beside Highway 11.

Orillia firefighters responded to a call reporting the collapsed overhang at the closed-down hotel around 4:45 p.m.

“Right now, because of this kind of stuff, it’s in dire need of repairs,” said fire Chief Trent Elyea, suggesting snow load contributed to the mishap. “Here’s a perfect example of if you don’t clear your snow off your roof, this sort of thing can happen.”

With Mayor Ron Stevens on scene surveying the damage, Elyea said the fire department would wait for direction from the city’s chief building official as to what to do next. The building owner had not yet been located by late afternoon.

Anonymous said...

(April 30, 2011)
An Orillia landmark since the early 60's and a recent eye sore, the Sundial Inn, was the scene of an early morning fire.

Crews responded to the abandoned Inn just after midnight (Saturday).

No word on the extent of damage to the structure that was to be demolished.

The building has been targeted by vandals in the past but police and fire officials have not released the cause of the fire.

The Orillia Packet & Times reports the city's chief building official, Kelly Smith, as saying there is asbestos, mould and PCBs in the building.

Anonymous said...

sundial inn was fully demolished in the last month. made the ride from toronto to muskoka every weekend this summer and the last couple times i've noticed nothing but a pile of rubble.. the first time i thought i missed it but i keep my eyes peeled and the sundial inn is nothing more than a pile of bricks.. crazy!