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Port Dover

Coordinates: 42°47′12″N 80°12′11″W / 42.78667°N 80.20306°W / 42.78667; -80.20306
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Port Dover
Unincorporated hamlet in Norfolk County
Boats moored at Port Dover, Ontario
Boats moored at Port Dover, Ontario
Port Dover is located in Southern Ontario
Port Dover
Port Dover
Location in southern Ontario
Coordinates: 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)
 • Mayor of Norfolk CountyAmy Martin[1]
 • County CouncillorAdam Veri
 • Governing BodyThe Council of The Corporation of Norfolk County
 • MPsLeslyn Lewis (Conservative)
 • MPPsBobbi Ann Brady (Independent)
 • Land5.66 km2 (2.19 sq mi)
210 m (690 ft)
 • Density1,087.8/km2 (2,817/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Forward sortation area
Area code519 / 226 /

Port Dover is an unincorporated community and former town located in Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada, on the north shore of Lake Erie. It is the site of the recurring Friday the 13th motorcycle rally. Prior to the War of 1812, this community was known as Dover Mills.


The Mayor of Norfolk County is Port Dover resident Amy Martin.

This community is the southern terminus for Ontario Highway 6; located 480 kilometres (300 mi) to the south of the Northern Ontario community of McKerrow.[2] This highway stretches northward as a two-lane, undivided highway until the traffic flow increases to four lanes shortly after it departs from Caledonia.[3] 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.

Sightings of at least 128 bird species have been verified in Port Dover from 1956 to 2019; including the Indigo bunting, the Rose-breasted grosbeak, and the Scarlet tanager.[4]

Most people get their television either through Shaw Direct, Bell Satellite 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.[5]

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.


The second largest of the Communities in Norfolk County, Ontario, Port Dover had a population of 7,871 at the time of the 2021 Census. This is an increase of 12.7% over the population of 6,984 in 2016. 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.[6]

With respect to the ethnic origin of residents, 230 are of North American Aboriginal origin (180 First Nations and 60 Metis), 1,975 are of North American origins (including 1,910 Canadian), 4,885 are of European origin (3,775 British Isles, 490 French, 1,290 Western European, 125 Northern European, 610 Eastern European, 355 Southern European, and 25 other), 25 are of Caribbean origin, 60 are of Latin, Central, and South American origin, 35 are of African origin, 145 are of Asian origin, and 25 are of Oceania origin. Respondents could report more than one ethnic origin.

The 2016 Census recorded 2,965 males and 3,200 females. There were 610 people aged 0 to 14, 3,570 people aged 15 to 64, and 1,985 people aged 65 and over. The average age was 50.8, and the median was 56.8.

The median household income in 2020 was $83,000.[7]


Port Dover is named for Dover, England.[8]


Port Dover traditionally belongs to the humid continental climate zone, even with the recent mild winters and warmer dry summers. From the late 1990s onwards, winters have become more mild due to changes in climate brought on by global warming.[citation needed]

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]

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
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) −2.2
Daily mean °C (°F) −5.6
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −9.1
Record low °C (°F) −32.2
Source: Environment Canada[11]


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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15][16][17][18] After making their landing on the shore, 750 American soldiers launched a surprise attack on the village's civilians.[19] 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.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21] By 1896 the population was 1,000.[22]

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.[21] 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.[23]

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.[23] 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.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26]

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.[27] 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.[27] 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.[28] The Canadian Coast Guard stationed the Cape-class motor lifeboat CCGS Cape Lambton in the community in 2005.[29]

Certain segments of the 2009 American horror film Survival of the Dead were filmed in Port Dover.[30] The film was directed by George A. Romero and starred Alan van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, and Kathleen Munroe.[31][32] 40 wind turbines were supposed to be built in the area starting in 2013.[33][34][35] However, Norfolk County council has effectively banned the placement of new wind turbines due to concerns about rural spaces being completely "industrialized" and "unnatural".[36]

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.[37] An elementary school called Lakewood Public School opened in the old PDCS building in 2013.[38]

Notable people[edit]

Motorcycle rally[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.[41][42]


Port Dover contains the Arbor hot dog restaurant and the Knechtels neighborhood market and fish restaurant.[43]

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

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.[45]

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.[43] 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.[46]

There are scenic waterfalls nearby and tourists generally go to nearby Port Ryerse as a side trip.[43] Local roads that originate from here often lead to the hamlets of Fishers Glen, Normandale and Turkey Point (which is another seasonal beach destination).[47] Even the farmers here generally enjoy the sunsets on their property.[43] Apple wine, produced by the local farmers themselves, can be purchased by anyone due to their lack of alcohol content.[47] This product is available in the Port Dover area.[47] On clear summer nights, the Port Dover lighthouse can be seen glimmering brightly with the moon.[43] The beaches in Port Dover have a tendency to emulate those that are beside the Mediterranean Sea.[47]


At least 5,200 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.

The Port Dover Cemetery is still functioning as of 2020 and people were buried here as far back as the early 19th-century.


  1. ^ "Mayor and Council". norfolkcounty.ca. Norfolk County. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  2. ^ Road Atlas – Canada, United States, and Mexico (Map) (2008 ed.). Peter Heiler Ltd. p. 17, 19. § B6–G7, G8–K8, L9, M10–R11.
  3. ^ "Highway 6 Information for Norfolk County to City of Hamilton". Ontario King's Highways. Retrieved July 3, 2007.
  4. ^ "Bird Counts in Port Dover, Ontario". eBird. Retrieved 2019-05-22.
  5. ^ Over-the-air TV report for Port Dover, Ontario at TV Fool
  6. ^ https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2021/dp-pd/prof/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&SearchText=port%20dover&DGUIDlist=2021S05100658&GENDERlist=1,2,3&STATISTIClist=1,4&HEADERlist=0
  7. ^ https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2021/dp-pd/prof/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&SearchText=port%20dover&DGUIDlist=2021S05100658&GENDERlist=1,2,3&STATISTIClist=1,4&HEADERlist=0
  8. ^ "Port Dover". Norfolk County Tourism. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  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 19 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Port Dover, Ontario". Canadian Climate Normals 1961–1990. Environment Canada. 9 February 2011. Archived from the original on August 19, 2019. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  12. ^ "Wintering Site". ontarioplaques.com. Alan L Brown. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  13. ^ "Cliff Site". ontarioplaques.com. Alan L. Brown. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  14. ^ The Founding of Port Dover Archived October 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine at OntarioPlaques.com
  15. ^ "Campbell's Raid 1814". ontarioplaques.com. Alan L. Brown. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  16. ^ "The history of the War of 1812". The official war of 1812 bicentennial site. Archived from the original on February 7, 2010.
  17. ^ Gilbert Collins (2006). Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Dundurn. ISBN 978-1-55002-626-9. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  18. ^ "Robert Nichol, c. 1774-1824" (PDF). Ontario Heritage Trust. September 24, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 15, 2011.
  19. ^ a b "Discovering Lake Erie: Port Dover and Long Point Bay". Boating Ontario.
  20. ^ "The Capture of Detroit". ontarioplaques.com. Alan L. Brown. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ McEvoy, Henry (1869). The Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory. Robertson & Cook. p. 393. ISBN 978-0-665-09412-5.
  23. ^ a b Bruce M. Pearce. "Glorious Old Norfolk". Norfolk Historical Society. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  24. ^ "LAKE ERIE & NORTHERN RAILWAY". Train Web.
  25. ^ Beaches Sport Coin Arcades - Juke Music at Google Books
  26. ^ Simcoe Composite School and Norfolk County 1969–72 (Pentax SV / 50mm f1.8 lens) at PBase
  27. ^ a b "Paris-Port Dover Pipe Band celebrates 10th anniversary". Paris Star Online.
  28. ^ "Stanley Cup Journals 2004: 37". Hockey Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved July 27, 2006.
  29. ^ 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 March 6, 2012.
  30. ^ "Survival of the Dead: Uncle Creepy's Pictorial Diary of the Dead". DreadCentral. 12 September 2012.
  31. ^ "Fantastic Fest 09: Romero Discusses the Future of the Dead". DreadCentral. 28 September 2009.
  32. ^ "Three New Clips: George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead". DreadCentral. 14 August 2012.
  33. ^ Daniel Pearce (2011). "Green projects receive go-ahead". Brantford Expositor. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. 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.
  34. ^ John Miner (January 23, 2012). "Farm group calls for turbine halt". Simcoe Reformer. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. 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.
  35. ^ "Work together to tackle wind turbine concerns". Simcoe Reformer. July 2011. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. 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.
  36. ^ "Norfolk Seeks End to Turbine Development". Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  37. ^ "PDCS will close at end of semester". The Simcoe Reformer. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
  38. ^ Celebrating a new adventure at Lakewood Elementary Archived December 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine at Grand Erie District School Board
  39. ^ "Toby Barrett". Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  40. ^ "Megan Timpf". Canadian Olympic Committee. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  41. ^ Pat Brennan, "Friday the 13th means thousands of bikers descending on the Lake Erie community of Port Dover", National Post, 12 May 2016
  42. ^ Monte Sonnenberg, "Friday the 13th keeps on rolling", Simcoe Reformer, 25 January 2019
  43. ^ a b c d e Port Dover, Ontario, Canada at TravelingLuck.com
  44. ^ Staff, "Tony Schneider Sr was a lifelong community builder", Port Dover Maple Leaf, April 2016
  45. ^ Recognizing Canadian History: The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Ottawa: Parks Canada. 1979. p. 49. ISBN 0-662-50533-6.
  46. ^ Port Dover Urban Trail information at Ontario Trails
  47. ^ a b c d Visit and explore Port Dover at ITCWebDesigns.com

External links[edit]