The Orillia Rowing Club (ORC) evolved from the Twin Lakes Secondary School recreational rowing club. The Twin Lakes Club began in 1990 after raising funds to purchase three used recreational singles and an indoor rowing machine.
The Club rowed at the Champlain Yacht Club in Orillia, but growth was limited due to lack of space and the restrictive school-based schedule. Further development of the sport in Orillia required an adequate facility to store rowing shells and involvement of the community beyond the high school.
In 1997, after discussions with the City of Orillia Parks and Recreation department, the availability of a waterfront facility became a possibility. In early 1998, public meetings were organized to determine the level of interest in starting a municipal rowing club. Over 50 people attended each of two public meetings that were held in spring of 1998. This inspired the organizers to formally establish a club. An agreement was made with the City of Orillia for the use of a small building at in Tudhope Park, to be used as the club's headquarters and boathouse.
The Orillia Rowing Club was formally launched in June 1998 with the goal of re-establishing the sport of rowing in Orillia.
Orillia was once known as an active centre for rowing, especially with one of the world's greatest oarsmen, Jake Gaudaur, having been born and raised in Orillia. Jake trained on Lake Couchiching in the late 1800s and from 1892 to 1898, he won the World Championship in the Double Sculls on Lake Couchiching; established a world record for "Three Miles with a Turn"; at Austin, Texas and won the World Single Sculls Championship on the Thames in England.
Following a long absence of organized rowing in Orillia, the Orillia Rowing Club officially became a not-for-profit corporation in the spring of 2000. The ORC is now sanctioned with the RowOntario and Rowing Canada sports governing bodies.
The club has since grown in leaps and bounds. With 20 members in 1998, membership increased to 31 in 1999 and more than doubled to 80 by the end of the 2000 season. The club continues to attract the interest of both the young and young-at-heart, first-timers as well as experienced rowers, to its ranks.
In 2007, the ORC applied for and received a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to support the Club's abilities to increase participation in the Club's activities. The funds supported the purchase of new rowing shells, a floating dock and program and administration equipment. With these developments, the ORC is able to introduce more people to rowing; from young students to older adults and those with special needs.