The drive along the south coast of Lake Erie from Port Dover to Port Stanley is filled with adventure. Bring bathing suits and towels along for this journey. There’s no heavy traffic to contend with, and time passes like molasses. From the Niagara areas follow Highway 3 West then Highway 6 South to Port Dover.
This resort village of 5,500 is best known for the Friday the 13th gathering of motorcyclists; however, there’s much more such as a beach and a boardwalk to enjoy, summer theatre (May through Sept.15th, 2015), and you can take a tug tour of Lake Erie. One of my favourite pastimes is to sit on the pier that juts out into the lake and watch the fishing boats return with their catches of the day. When I visit the Port Dover Harbour Museum, I come away with tid-bits about the lakes commercial fishing history. From June 27-July 1st about 60 sailboats and their crew will participate in five days of racing in the Lake Erie Interclub Cruise. The race has been going on annually since 1907.
Your next stop jumps out at you at the end of the road. In the 1860’s it provided a small thriving shallow water port for a lumber business. Today, the beach is the star attraction.
Named because of the abundance of the turkeys in the area, they are still around. I almost had a turkey dinner when one came flying across the road in front of me. I had to settle for a hamburger at one of the concession stands found at the edge of the two-mile groomed sandy beach. Highlight for the summer of 2015 is the Turkey Point Summer Fest held between August 5th and 9th.
For those who prefer something quieter than a baseball game and less strenuous than a white water kayak ride, you’ve arrived. The idyllic inlet harbour here will transport you to the fishing villages along the east coast of Canada. You can hang out along the dock wall, picnicking, fishing, bird watching or simply people watching.
About a half hour drive west along Highway 42 is Port Burwell. It’s a bit bigger than Port Rowan. You’ll find Canada’s oldest wooden lighthouse built in 1840. For a minimal fee you can climb to the top and get an excellent view. The nearby Marine Museum has both marine exhibits and artifacts depicting village life. It opens daily from mid-May to Labour Day.
Drive west another half hour to be fascinated by Port Stanley. This village of 2,500 is situated at the mouth of meandering Kettle Creek and Lake Erie. Port Stanley in the 1930’s and 40’s was known as the Coney Island of Ontario. Harry James, Guy Lombardo, Benny Goodman and other fine musicians played at the Stork Club dance hall. A fire destroyed it in the 1970’s. Here is one of the finest stretches of sandy beaches on the north shore of Lake Erie. And it’s also one of the cleanest. Work crews arrive early each day with an old fashioned hay loader to rake the beaches.
As the lake's largest deep water natural harbour it’s a haven for a large fishing fleet and watercrafts of all sizes. Mackie’s Restaurant, built in 1911, is still on the beachfront and still serving up their famous Mackie’s Orangeade.
The north shore of Lake Erie is a place of unexpected delights and summer is a thrilling time to take this trip.
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George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.