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Billie Orr

Billie Orr
Billie Orr with some of his cement sculptures

Billie Orr was born in Tyrone, Ireland in 1912, but he came to Canada with his parents when he was six months old. The family settled in Muskoka, and when Bill was sixteen he went to work for the railroad. Then in 1936 he started to work at the Muskoka Sanatorium in Gravenhurst where he was employed for several years as chief engineer.

Bill continued to live on the family homestead in a log cabin all his life until his death in 1998. He never married and when his parents died he lived in the cabin alone. He lived completely independently - without electricity, hauling water from a well, cutting his grass with a push mower and raising a large garden.

About fifty years ago Billie Orr planted a tree circle behind his house and started to make Irish and Zodiac figures in cement. He placed his figures within this "magical" circle. He said he did it for the amusement of the moose. He made friends with and tamed many wild animals. Mother raccoon would bring her babies to his cabin and he would invite them in for a dinner he had prepared especially for them. He loved Ireland, and would return many times on his own to travel by bicycle and hike throughout the countryside. When he returned he would publish accounts of his travels in the Muskoka paper.

Billie Orr was a well known figure in Bracebridge where he would walk the ten miles in from Purbrook for supplies and trips to the library. Aside from the large number of cement figures which he formed by hand, he also carved miniature leprechauns and colleens, and for a short time he also made "souvenir" wheelbarrows. He lived on his own until he became sick in 1997.


CLICK THE THUMBNAILS BELOW TO SEE LARGER IMAGES OF BILLIE ORR'S WORK:
Orr #1 Orr #2 Orr #3 Orr#4