Port Dover Ontario has been a Lake Erie Resort for more than a century. Find out more about the beach, the shopping, the tourist attractions, and Friday the 13th.
The port means two things to most tourists: the lakeside beach, which attracts swimmers and sunbathers for miles around, and “Friday the 13th” (aka PD13) which attracts thousands of motorcyclists who rally here for an outdoor party every time the 13th day of a month falls on a Friday.
|Photo above courtesy of Sylvia Tavormina. All other photos on this page by Guylaine Spencer.|
However, as I recently discovered, that’s not all there is to this quaint little community on the north shore of Lake Erie. You’ll also find history, theatre, music, art, and boating … and even a little bit of shopping and eating thrown in for good measure.
If you’re a history buff your first stop should be the Port Dover Harbour Museum at 44 Harbour Street. It’s a great introduction to the maritime history of Port Dover and Lake Erie.
The museum is just down the river from the big Fishermen's Memorial Monument near the pier at the harbour.
If you’d like to try some fishing of your own you can join the other loafers …ahem, fishers… at the edge of that pier. Or go swimming in the Lake or sunbathing on the beach.
How about taking a boat tour? I did this one summer. Walk along the river’s edge and you’ll find a company offering short excursions that will take you through some pretty spots along the water including the Port Dover marina.
Want to do a little damage to your pocket book at the gift shops in town? If you’re looking for something unique try the Sandalmaker near the Pier. They sell much more than just custom-made sandals. They sell all kinds of arts and crafts and furniture, imported and local. Their back garden is just full of unusual items for your home.
There is also shopping along Main Street in Port Dover Ontario. Here you’ll also find pretty little Powell Park, which hosts free concerts on Sundays during the summer, and an annual summer art and crafts show, called “Summer Fest”.
The town hosts numerous other festivals too: the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year's Day, Perch Derby (April-May), Friday the 13th, Fish Fest (July) and Christmas Fest (Dec). You could also take in some live theatre at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre, the former town hall/entertainment hall, which has been hosting live performances on and off since it opened more than 100 years ago.
Eating in Port Dover Ontario
Perch and pickerel are the specialties at the Terrace Room at the Erie Beach Hotel. The family restaurant has been run by the Schneiders since 1946. Order a big platter and share it with a friend. Don’t forget their famous celery bread either.
Another old-time favourite is The Arbor Restaurant, established in 1919. I haven’t tried this one yet but am told that their foot-long hotdogs and trade mark beverage “the Golden Glow” are worth checking out.