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.