Port Dover, Ontario

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Port Dover, Ontario
Unincorporated hamlet in Norfolk County
Boats moored at Port Dover, Ontario.
Boats moored at Port Dover, Ontario.
Port Dover, Ontario is located in Southern Ontario
Port Dover, Ontario
Port Dover, Ontario
Location in southern Ontario
Coordinates: 42°47′12″N 80°12′11″W / 42.78667°N 80.20306°W / 42.78667; -80.20306Coordinates: 42°47′12″N 80°12′11″W / 42.78667°N 80.20306°W / 42.78667; -80.20306
Country Canada
Province Ontario
Established1794 as Dover Mills
Amalgamated into Norfolk County2001 (Single-tier municipality)
 • MayorKristal Chopp
 • Governing BodyThe Council of The Corporation of Norfolk County
 • MPsDiane Finley (Con)
 • MPPsToby Barrett (PC)
 • Land9.15 km2 (3.53 sq mi)
210 m (690 ft)
 • Density698.04/km2 (1,807.9/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Forward sortation area
Area code(s)519 / 226 /

Port Dover is an unincorporated community and former town located in Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada on the north shore of Lake Erie.


Prior to the War of 1812, this community was known as Dover Mills. This community is the southern terminus for Ontario Highway 6; located 480 kilometres or 300 miles to the south of the Northern Ontario community of McKerrow.[1] This highway stretches northward as a two-lane, undivided highway until the traffic flow increases to four lanes shortly after it departs from Caledonia.[2] In addition to allowing Port Dover residents direct access to the city of Hamilton, it also briefly merges with Highway 403 to allow for access to the Royal Botanical Gardens and locations on to Toronto.

The postal forward sortation area is N0A; sharing its Canada Post service with the western portion of Haldimand County. All residences and businesses within the Port Dover area have a 583 in their phone number.

A verified amount of at least 128 species of bird have been discovered in Port Dover from 1956 to 2019; including the Indigo Bunting, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and the Scarlet Tanager.[3]

The second largest of the Communities in Norfolk County, Ontario, Port Dover had a population of 6,161 at the time of the 2016 Census.[4] English is spoken by the majority of the residents; with 285 people speaking languages other than English or French. The majority of Port Dover residents were born in Canada, with 515 residents being born in Europe in addition to 10 African-born residents, 70 US-born residents and 70 residents who were born in Asia.[5]

Most people get their television either through Shaw Direct, Bell TV or over-the-air. There is only one channel can be picked up reliably using an outdoor antenna while an additional five channels can be picked up semi-reliably. There are twelve channels that can be picked up over-the-air only during sunny days where clouds are absent.[6]

At least 4,525 individuals, or families, have their remains interred at Port Dover Cemetery on the Blue Line Road, including famous poet, novelist, short-story writer, critic and editor Raymond Knister. The cemetery is a United Empire Loyalist cemetery that includes veterans from the War of 1812 along with other wars and conflicts that Canada was involved in. Due to the changing Canadian economic climate, a storage place for cremated remains was installed on the premises in 2011.[7]

Ride Norfolk offers transportation between Port Dover and Simcoe on Thursdays and Fridays. This service is used for people in Simcoe to access the tourist attractions of Port Dover mainly during the summer months. It can also be used for Port Dover residents to access doctors, medical services, and dental services in Simcoe that would usually require an automobile.


First recorded in its Latinised form of Portus Dubris, the name derives from the Brythonic word for waters (dwfr in Middle Welsh). The same element is present in the towns French (Douvres) and Modern Welsh (Dofr) forms.


Between the years 1897 and 1977, only the winter of 1975 was considered to be a mild winter for the Port Dover area.[8] From the late 1990s onwards, winters have become more mild due to Earth's changing climate. Port Dover traditionally belongs to the humid continental climate zone, even with the recent mild winters and warmer dry summers.

The warmest summers that Port Dover has witnessed occurred in 1998, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 (with the exception of the month of July[9]), 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.[10]

Should the sea levels rise by 60 metres or 200 feet, Port Dover would not be affected by flooding.[11] However, it may be affected by droughts as a by-product of the dislocation of available fresh water and may be forced to rely on desalinated salt water piped in from the Eastern United States. Constructing the proper infrastructure to carry the water hundreds of miles away would take considerable manpower along with significant economic costs and an unprecedented level of cooperation from multiple federal, state/provincial, and municipal governments.

Climate data for Port Dover, Ontario (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.9
Average high °C (°F) −2.2
Daily mean °C (°F) −5.6
Average low °C (°F) −9.1
Record low °C (°F) −32.2
Source: Environment Canada[12]


Port Dover's earliest known inhabitants, from around the year 1000 until approximately 300–350 years later, were the Algonquin nation. They were noted flint-workers and evidence of their skill in crafting arrowheads is still to be found in open worked field areas surrounding the village. The next wave of inhabitants were the Attawandaron nation, the Neutrals, who occupied the region from about 1350 until their absorption by the Iroquois in the year 1651. The last significant native nation to occupy the area was the Mississaugas.

In 1670, French missionaries François Dollier de Casson and René Bréhant de Galinée became the first Europeans to winter at what is now Port Dover. Earthen remains and a plaque mark the spot near the fork of the Lynn River (Patterson's Creek to many older Port Doverites) and Black Creek where they and seven Frenchmen (the first Europeans known to have ascended the Great Lakes to Sault Ste. Marie) built a hut and chapel.[13] Just outside the community, a cross with the arms of France had been erected on 23 March 1670, claiming the area for King Louis XIV over the Lake Erie region.[14]

By 1794 the first settlers, a group of United Empire Loyalists, had established a hamlet known as Dover Mills (named for the English port of Dover). Peter Walker was the first settler of this community, becoming its unofficial founder.[15]

This community was the subject of an American raid during the War of 1812, on May 14–15, 1814. Much of it was destroyed but was later rebuilt.[16][17][18][19] After making their landing on the shore, 750 American soldiers launched a surprise attack on the village's civilians.[20] Scattered elements of nearby militia and regular units tried to defend the village without any success. Re-enactments carried out by local volunteer groups have allowed the British-Canadian forces to soundly defeat the American troops in battle.[20] The survivors of the war rebuilt the town of Port Dover further downstream on Patterson's Creek. The raid was part of America's Niagara campaigns toward the end of the War of 1812.

During the war, in August 1812, Major General Isaac Brock gathered a force of regulars and militia here. Crossing the lake by boat, they reached Amherstburg (then also in Upper Canada) and attacked and captured the American Hull's Army at Detroit.[21]

In 1835, Port Dover was incorporated as a village and later as a town.

By 1842, the village was growing and had a population of almost 400. The harbour, lighthouse and bridge across the river had been completed as had the road to Hamilton; there was a grammar school, a grist mill, a saw mill and a Presbyterian church in the course of construction.[22] By 1896 the population was 1,000.[23]

In 1877, Port Dover was a large village with 1,100 residents, most living on the west bank of the River Lynn. The South Norfolk Railway was started in the county and began operating in 1889. Even earlier, the Hamilton & Lake Erie Railway (H&LER) began operating in 1873 but was merged with the Hamilton & Northwestern Railway which completed the final section to Port Dover and to Jarvis in the mid 1870s.[22] A report from 1924 also discusses an electric railway that had been introduced "in recent years". This was the Grand River Railway that connected Hespeler, Berlin (later called Kitchener) and Waterloo with connection to Brantford and Port Dover.[24]

At least during the warm months, palm trees thrive on Erie Beach, Port Dover

By the 1920s tourism was an important contributor to the economy, with many summer visitors attracted by the beach. There was some light industry in the town but Port Dover was best known as a major fishing centre, with fish shipped by rail and by ship not only within Canada but also to the U.S.[24] Notable amenities like Ivey's Greenhouses and the incredible Port Dover beaches caused most of the passenger train traffic to occur during the summer months.[25] Rail service was also offered on the Port Dover & Lake Huron Railway (later purchased by Canadian National) line from the Caledonia Train Station to Port Dover until these services were cancelled after October 26, 1957.

A popular amusement arcade was in operation in Port Dover from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s.[26] Originally consisting of pinball games, it would expand to include video arcade games. During the late-1960s and early-1970s, local teenagers would frequently hang out at places like the Blue Pickerel, the ferris wheel, and the Summer Garden where musical acts like Guy Lombardo would make frequent appearances.[27]

Businesses would often close one hour earlier on Wednesday as a measure to ensure that breadwinners, homemakers and their children would spend more time together until the 1970s. This occurred regardless of negative economic effects and would apply to most non-essential services.

In 1974, the town was amalgamated into the new city of Nanticoke within the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk.

The Paris Port Dover Pipe Band was established on February 18, 2000 by Pipe Major Gordon Black as a competitive and as a community pipe band.[28] They act as ambassadors on the global level as well as on a local level. The band was formally established when a constitution and small band were formed out of ten pipers, one bass, and one snare.[28] In 2001, Nanticoke and all other municipalities within the region were dissolved and the region was divided into two single tier municipalities. Port Dover is now an unincorporated community in Ward 6 of Norfolk County. The Stanley Cup came to Port Dover in 2004 (with Jassen Cullimore) when the 2003–04 Tampa Bay Lightning won the Cup. He was the fourth NHL player to present the Stanley Cup to this small hockey town on the shore of Lake Erie.[29] The Canadian Coast Guard stationed the Cape-class motor lifeboat CCGS Cape Lambton in the community in 2005.[30]

Certain segments of the 2009 American horror film Survival of the Dead were filmed in Port Dover.[31] The film was directed by George A. Romero and starred Alan van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, and Kathleen Munroe.[32][33] 40 wind turbines were supposed to be built in the area starting in 2013.[34][35][36] However, Norfolk County council has effectively banned the placement of new wind turbines due to concerns about rural spaces being completely "industrialized" and "unnatural".[37]

Until 2013, Port Dover had a high school which served students aged 14 through 21 in the immediate area. Approximately 1800 young people had fled the Port Dover Area between 2001 and 2011. Academic programs in Valley Heights Secondary School and Delhi District Secondary School were beefed up and prepared to accept former PDCS students after the closure date.[38] An elementary school called Lakewood Public School recently opened in the old PDCS building.[39]

Notable people[edit]


Port Dover hosts tens of thousands of people every Friday the 13th for the Friday the 13th motorcycle rally, which was started on 13 November 1981 by a local bike shop owner named Chris Simons at what was then the Commercial Hotel on Main Street.[40][41]

Port Dover is also home to the famous Arbor hot dog restaurant and the Knetchels neighborhood market and fish restaurant.[42] The Arbor hot dog restaurant is an inexpensive Canadian-style fast food establishment that serves soft ice cream in addition to French fries and its refreshing golden glow drink. While the value is considered to be average by local standards, the food is considered to be slightly above average. The service and the atmosphere are considered to be good by local standards. It has been a tradition for families living in Norfolk County to go to the Arbor at least once during the course of the summer months. Children enjoy the food options in addition to most of the toppings and fixings. The quickness of the service rivals that of McDonald's or Dairy Queen.[43]

The Erie Beach Hotel with its Cove Room [44] and The Beach House are also popular dining attractions.

The Dover Cheese Shop is considered to be one of the top five important things to see in Port Dover. Cheese is served in very good-to-excellent quality along with crackers and it is located close to the Lighthouse Festival Theatre. Imported and Canadian cheese are sold there and the walkability of the venue allows anyone to stroll right in from the main street.[45]

The Port Dover Harbour Museum is a specialty museum that deals with shipwrecks and the local fishing industry. A kids' area is included that includes a stereoscope viewer and a good number of pictures to view in it. Located on a lakeside with exhibits that interests people who are into maritime culture, there are also displays of fishing boats from years gone by. A vintage morse code machine can be viewed in the museum; morse code was used to deliver messages from ship to shore in the early days of the local fishing industry.[46]

The "Cliff Site" was the first place designated by the federal Minister of the Environment as a National Historic Site of Canada (French: Lieux historiques nationaux du Canada), as being of national historic significance. There two priests claimed sovereignty over the Lake Erie region for Louis XIV of France in 1670.[47]

Located just a short driving distance away from the Stelco Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Port Dover is the site of romantic sunsets along its surrounding countryside.[42] Port Dover can be used as an easy urban walking trail year round. Recommended activities are cycling, running, hiking, and walking. There are hills on Silver Lake Drive, Prospect Street, Bridge Street, and St. George Street. Most of the streets have sidewalks; but care should be taken around traffic especially during summer weekends. Walking on Park Street or Market Street takes the participant to Powell Park, which is the social epicenter of Port Dover. Depending on the participants' activity level, the town can be walked through in either 3 kilometres or 5 kilometres.[48]

There are scenic waterfalls nearby and tourists generally go to nearby Port Ryerse as a side trip.[42] Local roads that originate from here often lead to the hamlets of Fishers Glen, Normandale and Turkey Point (which is another seasonal beach destination).[49] Even the farmers here generally enjoy the sunsets on their property.[42] Apple wine, produced by the local farmers themselves, can be purchased by anyone due to their lack of alcohol content.[49] This product is available in the Port Dover area.[49] On clear summer nights, the Port Dover lighthouse can be seen glimmering brightly with the moon.[42] The beaches in Port Dover have a tendency to emulate those that are beside the Mediterranean Sea.[49]


  1. ^ Road Atlas – Canada, United States, and Mexico (Map) (2008 ed.). Peter Heiler Ltd. p. 17, 19. § B6–G7, G8–K8, L9, M10–R11.
  2. ^ "Highway 6 Information for Norfolk County to City of Hamilton". Ontario King's Highways. Retrieved July 3, 2007.
  3. ^ "Bird Counts in Port Dover, Ontario". eBird. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  4. ^ "Census Profile, 2016 Census Port Dover". Statistics Canada. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  5. ^ Demographics information at City Population
  6. ^ Over-the-air TV report for Port Dover, Ontario at TV Fool
  7. ^ Port Dover Cemetery information at Find a Grave
  8. ^ Assel, Raymond A. (1980). "Maximum Freezing Degree-Days as a Winter Severity Index for the Great Lakes, 1897–1977". Monthly Weather Review. American Meteorological Society. 108 (9): 1440–1445. Bibcode:1980MWRv..108.1440A. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1980)108<1440:MFDDAA>2.0.CO;2. ISSN 1520-0493.
  9. ^ "Ontario Weather Review - July 2009". Environment Canada. September 1, 2009. Archived from the original on December 3, 2012. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  10. ^ "Global Analysis - Annual 2016". NOAA. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  11. ^ "Impact of global warming on Port Dover, Ontario". Firetree. Retrieved July 2, 2012.
  12. ^ "Port Dover, Ontario". Canadian Climate Normals 1961–1990. Environment Canada. Archived from the original on August 19, 2019. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  13. ^ "Wintering Site". ontarioplaques.com. Alan L Brown. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  14. ^ "Cliff Site". ontarioplaques.com. Alan L. Brown. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  15. ^ The Founding of Port Dover at OntarioPlaques.com
  16. ^ "Campbell's Raid 1814". ontarioplaques.com. Alan L. Brown. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  17. ^ "The history of the War of 1812". The official war of 1812 bicentennial site. Archived from the original on January 5, 2010.
  18. ^ Gilbert Collins (2006). Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Dundurn. ISBN 978-1-55002-626-9. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  19. ^ "Robert Nichol, c. 1774-1824". Ontario Heritage Trust. September 24, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 5, 2010.
  20. ^ a b "Discovering Lake Erie: Port Dover and Long Point Bay". Boating Ontario.
  21. ^ "The Capture of Detroit". ontarioplaques.com. Alan L. Brown. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Cultural Heritage Landscape and Built Heritage Study" (PDF). Unterman McPhail Associates. March 1, 2007. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 23, 2012.
  23. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=z6wOAAAAYAAJ, page 393
  24. ^ a b Bruce M. Pearce. "Glorious Old Norfolk". Norfolk Historical Society. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  25. ^ "LAKE ERIE & NORTHERN RAILWAY". Train Web.
  26. ^ Beaches Sport Coin Arcades - Juke Music at Google Books
  27. ^ Simcoe Composite School and Norfolk County 1969-72 (Pentax SV / 50mm f1.8 lens) at PBase
  28. ^ a b "Paris-Port Dover Pipe Band celebrates 10th anniversary". Paris Star Online.
  29. ^ "Stanley Cup Journals 2004: 37". Hockey Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved July 27, 2006.
  30. ^ Theresa Nichols (August 11, 2005). "Lloyd St. Amand Announces the Dedication of the Cape Lambton in Port Dover Ontario". Canadian Coast Guard. Archived from the original on January 5, 2010.
  31. ^ "Survival of the Dead: Uncle Creepy's Pictorial Diary of the Dead". DreadCentral.
  32. ^ "Fantastic Fest 09: Romero Discusses the Future of the Dead". DreadCentral.
  33. ^ "Three New Clips: George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead". DreadCentral.
  34. ^ Daniel Pearce (2011). "Green projects receive go-ahead". Brantford Expositor. Archived from the original on January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2012. The big news, however, was in Haldimand County. That community was awarded a project that could see up to 100 wind turbines along the lake-shore in the Nanticoke area. As well, the proposal that includes the Port Dover windmills extends into Haldimand, where another 40 or more turbines could be located.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  35. ^ John Miner (January 23, 2012). "Farm group calls for turbine halt". Simcoe Reformer. Archived from the original on January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2012. "We are taking a look at those and we are determined to get clean, renewable energy into the province of Ontario and secure the jobs that help Ontario serve the world with green energy," Bentley said.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  36. ^ "Work together to tackle wind turbine concerns". Simcoe Reformer. July 2011. Archived from the original on January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2012. Please be aware that Capital Power Corporation is in the process of planning to build 13 wind turbines here in the east end of Norfolk County.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  37. ^ "Norfolk Seeks End to Turbine Development". Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  38. ^ "PDCS will close at end of semester". The Simcoe Reformer. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
  39. ^ Celebrating a new adventure at Lakewood Elementary at Grand Erie District School Board
  40. ^ Pat Brennan, "Friday the 13th means thousands of bikers descending on the Lake Erie community of Port Dover", National Post, 12 May 2016
  41. ^ Monte Sonnenberg, "Friday the 13th keeps on rolling", Simcoe Reformer, 25 January 2019
  42. ^ a b c d e Port Dover, Ontario, Canada at TravelingLuck.com
  43. ^ Arbor Restaurant at Trip Advisor
  44. ^ Staff, "Tony Schneider Sr was a lifelong community builder", Port Dover Maple Leaf, April 2016
  45. ^ Dover Cheese Shop at Trip Advisor
  46. ^ Port Dover Harbour Museum at Trip Advisor
  47. ^ Recognizing Canadian History: The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Ottawa: Parks Canada. 1979. p. 49. ISBN 0-662-50533-6.
  48. ^ Port Dover Urban Trail information at Ontario Trails
  49. ^ a b c d Visit and explore Port Dover at ITCWebDesigns.com