Canadian – with a British accent
Becky Linhardt © 2016
Just about 30 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Niagara Falls, is the quiet lakeshore town of Port Colborne, Ontario that celebrates its Lake Erie history and location as the southern end of the Welland Canal at the Port Colborne Museum and in its parks along the canal.
Big ships cruise slowly through the middle of the historic downtown. “Knife” or “Lift” bridges up means traffic is at a standstill waiting for the passage of the BIG ships – ore carriers and “salties” that carry freight along the St. Lawrence Seaway. Kids love the stop, getting out of the car to stretch and maybe take a photo.
The small, charming downtown is located on the western side of the canal. Bicyclists riding the Niagara Circle Route, locals, and savvy vacationers often shop the stores and dine at the restaurants running along the West Street Promenade that edges the canal.
Looking for a real fish and chips experience? The British heritage is strong here and Minor’s catch of Lake Erie fish is offered for sale as flavorful but messy take-away orders with malt vinegar that can be consumed while sitting on benches to watch the boat traffic, large and small.
Port Colborne is not a resort town, although it has an influx of summer people June through September and has a very busy marina just west of the canal that is popular with the Great Lakes boaters. At Don Cherry’s Sports Bar overlooking the marina you can get a brew, hand-made pizza and a Canadian favorite, poutine and watch a beautiful sunset.
There is a public beach on the east and a lakeside park near the marina that is a favorite with kids – especially the splash park on hot summer days.
Arabella’s Tea Room at the museum is open seasonally and staffed by volunteers who know how to brew and serve a really good, strong, British style “cup a’ tea.” Accompanied by simple biscuits, butter, and homemade jams, a tea break becomes a memorable experience – casual, not stuffy.
Sometimes winter lingers a bit longer and ice can be visible on Lake Erie in March, sometimes into April. However, by June the lake has warmed, and cool lake breezes are welcome on hot summer days. Then the warm waters of the lake moderate the autumn climate and summer-like weather continues into September and often October.
Port Colborne Visitors Information Center
76 West Main Street, Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada L2K 3C8
905-834-5722 Seasonal hours observed