Port Dover is a little town on the shores of Lake Erie, known for being the destination of motorcycle enthusiasts on every Friday the 13th weekend. While we weren't silly enough to visit on such a weekend, we still saw our fair share of bikers and some pretty fancy motorcycles. We went during Canada Day long weekend and found the town brimming with Canadian flags. We got there the day after Canada Day and missed the festivities which included a parade and tug boat races. I find that small Canadian towns seem much more patriotic than in the big cities. Or maybe it just is more concentrated in such a small area.
We stayed at the Erie Beach Hotel that seemed straight out of the 50s, especially in the Cove restaurant where we ate pickerel and perch freshly caught from Lake Erie. The waitresses wore what looked like white nurses' uniforms and each table got an individual rolling salad bar cart. On the cart were such specialties as marshmallow and mandarin orange salad, and horseradish/lemon jello salad. There are even recipes on their website. When we told Rich's mom about these items, she said "yes I remember that", so I guess these were common recipes years ago. The jello was surprisingly tasty with just a very mild hint of horseradish. Check out
The motel was one block away from the beach area which included a pier and boardwalk and many beachfront shops and restaurants featuring fresh seafood, and the popular Arbor fast food joint that sold foot-long hotdogs and a drink that they called the "Orange Glow" which tasted like flat Orange Crush to me, but Rich seemed to like it. One place sold apple fritters that were made right in front of us and came to the table piping hot with a light batter and delicious filling. We even saw a "live bait" vending machine, although I question how live that bait could possibly be.
In the main street, there were many quaint little stores, pastry shops including a cookie shop that sold cashew cookies and the Whoopie Pie, which was supposed to be an old Amish tradition of taking 2 soft chocolate based cookies and making a sandwich with a marshmallow-like filling. Instead of Moose, like Toronto has, Port Dover has a series of ceramic pigs scattered through the town.
At the Lighthouse theatre, we saw an entertaining Norm Foster comedy called Looking that had extremely funny moments as well as touching ones.
The next morning, we went to the weekly Farmer's Market run by the local Lion's Club, who sold peameal bacon and schnitzel sandwiches, and provided free coffee. The local farmers had their fruit and vegetables on display, as well as sellers of soap, coffee, chocolates, sauces, and some arts and crafts.
There are a series of wooded bike trails connecting Port Dover to the town of Simcoe, and then Simcoe to Waterford. We rode our bikes to Simcoe and wandered around that town as well, but found Port Dover had more to offer.
All in all, Port Dover is a fun place to spend a weekend with lots to do and see. You can view more photos here: