The Port

By: Anne Corke

Oct 05 2011

Tags: , ,

Category: Ontario, Trains, Travel

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Last year my sister sold her cottage in Port Stanley. For thirty five years, she and her husband spent summer weekends there hosting family and friends, making happy summer memories. For those of you who may never have had the pleasure of visiting the Port, as the locals call it, here’s a bit of history for you. Port Stanley is a community on the north shore of Lake Erie about twenty five miles south of London. First settled in 1812, Port Stanley was to become one of the finest harbours on Lake Erie. While no longer serving the timber and coal industries, the harbor still supports a commercial fishery and should you ever visit the Port, you must indulge in a fish fry of fresh yellow perch. In the early 1900’s, Port Stanley was a major tourist destination and was known as “The Coney Island of the Great Lakes”.  In addition to it’s long sandy beach, Port Stanley’s many attractions included an incline railway which transported picnickers to Picnic Hill overlooking the beach, a casino, a night club, a cricket field, a public pool, an outdoor theatre, a ferris wheel, a rollercoaster and more. Tourists arrived by boat, car and train to frolic on the beach in the daytime and swing and sway to the sounds of the big bands after dark at the Pavilion, later to become the Stork Club. In the 1950’s, the world famous Stork Club had the largest dance floor in the London-Port Stanley area, measuring 13,000 square feet. The club was famous for swing music, attracting some of the biggest bands in North America until it’s closure in the late 1970’s. Today’s Port is a mix of old and new. On the beach since 1911, Mackies still serves it’s famous orangeade and fries, overlooked by expensive condominiums. Trendy boutiques contrast with tiny old cottages on postage stamp sized lots. Just down the road from the art gallery and theatre, Port Stanley Terminal Rail gives visitors a ride into the past on their vintage railroad equipment. The Port has something for everyone, history, great dining, a fabulous beach, antique stores, summer theatre, spas, golf, a tourist railroad and so much more. If you’re ever in the area, why not visit this charming village and discover all it has to offer. You’ll love it!

For more information on Port Stanley’s glittering past, see http://cec.chebucto.org/ClosPark/StanBech.html

For information on Port Stanley Terminal Rail, see http://www.pstr.on.ca/history.htm

Copyright 2011 Anne Corke

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