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The 50 passenger re-fitted tug Kayloe moored at the Port Dover dock

Port Dover - Far More Than Friday the 13th

© by George Bailey

Shades of Marlon Brando and the Wild Bunch. Every Friday the 13th up to 75,000 bikers plus another 150,000 enthusiasts invade the quaint Town sign village of Port Dover, population - a mere 5,500. If crowds are not your thing, visit on a day other than Friday the 13th to savour a completely different (tranquil) atmosphere.

To purchase a bathing suit or a perch dinner, this is the right place in Norfolk County with its brightly painted wooden buildings, going back to the turn of the century. Former cottages along the water's edge at Harbour Street now are souvenir shops, snack bars and restaurants.

Here, one can enjoy beaches and boardwalks, summer theatre (The Lighthouse Festival Theatre draws 30,000 annually), fishing tugs, charters and cruises. There are outdoor waterfront pubs on Lake Erie beach, and The Beach House Restaurant is one of the local favourites, their Lake Erie perch with fries, coated with panko bread crumbs, reasonably priced at $10.00. The six live palm trees growing on the beach in front of the restaurant? David Knechtel, a restaurant co-owner, says, "We bring in the trees from Florida in spring and plant them to give the place a tropical appearance." It works!

Take the 50 passenger "Kayloe," a refitted tug docked at the mouth of the Lynn River, for a 1.5 hour tour of the lake on Friday, Saturday or Sunday at 3pm. Adults $17.00. But remember, this is an active fishing village.

  Jan Overend, manager of the Port Dover Board of Trade bubbles with enthusiasm when speaking about her town: "Lots of times you don't see these boats because they are out in the lake fishing. Sitting on the pier watching the tugs return is both a visitor and the local's favourite thing to do."

One of my favourites is The Port Dover Harbour Museum. Kerry Wamsley, Museum Assistant, tells me, "This museum focuses on Lake Erie with a huge collection related to the commercial fishing industry on this lake." One of the permanent exhibits is of the steamer Atlantic which sank in Lake Erie in 1852. Wamsley reminds me that Lake Erie was the 401 of the waterways in the mid-1800's. The museum is partially housed in an original fisherman's net shanty and is open daily. A donation of $3.00 for an adult and $2.00 for a child is encouraged.

Lake Erie Fishermens Memorial Monument A leisurely walk along the pier that juts into Lake Erie is another way to soak up the atmosphere of this seaside resort. Take time to look at the Lake Erie Fishermen's Memorial Monument, a bronze statue that represents three fishermen hauling in their fishing nets from the stern of a boat. It pays tribute to the fishermen lost in the water while fishing. A lovely classic white lighthouse stands majestically at the far end of the pier.

The Sandalmaker is one of the village's unique shops, close to the memorial. You will notice unusual items that the owners acquire on trips to Indonesia: bamboo furniture, lamps, end tables, wind chimes and home-made sandals. The Grand Trunk Station offers unusual gifts and souvenirs.

A walk to one of the nearby private marinas along Black Creek allows a peek at old fishing boats intermingled with fancy yachts. Incredibly, Port Dover once enjoyed the largest fresh water fishing fleet in the world.

Port Dover Light House

Port Dover Friday The 13th

Sailing, Beach, Skim Boarding, Boating - Norfolk County - Port Dover

Photo Credits
George Bailey

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.
Port Dover, Ontario Weather

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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.
This community would become the subject of an American raid during the War of 1812, on May 14, 1814. After making their landing on the shore, 750 American soldiers committed themselves to a surprise attack on the village's civilians. Scattered elements of nearby militia and regular units tried to defend the village without any success.
In 1835, Port Dover was incorporated as a village and later as a town.  - Wikipedia

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