Port Colborne, Ontario – My Top 12 Picks

Port Colborne, Ontario – My Top 12 Picks

Port Colborne is a city on Lake Erie, at the southern end of the Welland Canal. The original settlement, known as Gravelly Bay after the shallow, bedrock-floored bay upon which it sits, dates from 1832 and was renamed after Sir John Colborne, a British war hero and the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada at the time of the opening of the southern terminus of the First Welland Canal in 1833 when it was extended to reach Lake Erie.

Port Colborne was one of the hardest hit communities during the blizzard of 1977. Thousands of people were stranded when the city was paralyzed during the storm.

Maritime commerce, including supplying goods to the camps for the laborers who worked on the first canal, ship repair and the provisioning trade, was, and still is, an important part of Port Colborne’s economy. Port Colborne was a heavily industrial city throughout most of the early twentieth century. A grain elevator, two modern flour mills, a Vale nickel refinery, a cement plant and a blast furnace were major employers. Several of these operations have closed over the past thirty years, while others employ a lot less residents due to modernization and cutbacks.

Port Colborne has been successful attracting agro-business operations which process corn into products such as sweeteners and citric acid. The economy has gradually shifted towards tourism and recreation, taking advantage of the scenic beauty of the lake shore.

The Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum, located near the center of town, is a resource for local history and archival research. In addition to a collection of historic buildings and artifacts, it opened up the “Marie Semley Research Wing” to foster research into local history; it was named to commemorate the long-standing efforts of a local resident who devoted hours to the museum.

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

44 King Street – 1835 – one of only a few stone structures in Port Colborne – The walls, made of limestone taken from the Welland Canal, are more than half a metre thick. The Georgian style of architecture is evident in the balanced three-bay-façade and centered doorway. – Port Colborne Book 1

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

322 King Street – Ingleside – It was built in 1867 for Charles H. Carter and occupied by the Carter family for 118 years, including Port Colborne’s first mayor, Dewitt Carter. The two-storey structure has projecting eaves supported by paired cornice brackets and corner quoins in dichromatic brick characteristic of Italianate architecture. Its rectangular plan with projecting frontispiece and hipped roof indicate it is a version of a house plan popularized by the magazine “The Canada Farmer” in 1865. The grounds are surrounded by a locally produced cast iron fence. – Port Colborne Book 1

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

380 King Street – The only example of Romanesque Revival in Port Colborne, this home was built about 1907 for Thomas Euphronius Reeb. The Romanesque is shown in its dark red brick and heavy cut stone window sills and lintels. The Queen Anne influence is evident in the octagonal tower with lard “band shell” verandah, wide round-arched first floor window with etched leaded glass and a line of terra cotta tiles with egg and dart motif under the eaves. – Port Colborne Book 1

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

296 Fielden Avenue – This magnificent stone and brick Victorian building was erected circa 1860 for Levi Cornwall. Lewis Carter had it redone in its present Italianate/Second Empire form about 1879 with ornately bracketed eaves, multiple bays, mansard roofs, an impressive three-storey tower with four double-hung “Port Colborne” windows, and round headed or elliptical shaped windows, some paired or tripled. – Port Colborne Book 1

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

346 Catharine Street – The former St. James’ Anglican Church Rectory (until 1957) was built in two stages with the eastern portion built for Lewis Carter c. 1875 and the western part was added when the house was purchased as a rectory in 1897. Note the two-storey bay window in the west wing, and round-headed windows capped with brick voussoirs which indicate the Italianate style. – Port Colborne Book 1

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

326 Catharine Street – The Harvie House built in 1900, it is a typical Queen Anne Revival style home and has a wraparound verandah with offset circular tower, two types of siding and a pyramidal roof. The house takes its name from the Harvie family who owned it from 1911 to 1951. – Port Colborne Book 1

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

14 Catharine Street – Wildwood – c. 1875 – This house displays an eclectic mix of late Victorian styles with a mix of bays, an oriel window and turret on its north side in contrast to the restrained Greek Revival style of the east and south facades. It began as a small two-storey brick house built by William Arnott on the lake shore in 1876. In 1886 it was purchased as a summer and retirement home by Carolina residents, Joseph and Alice Dickenson, who enlarged it to its current form. The cast metal lions were imported from the Carolinas by the Dickensons. The New England influence is evident in the architectural styles. – Port Colborne Book 1

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

232 Clarence Street – Built by lawyer Louis Kinnear in 1904, it was the home of his daughter Judge Helen Kinnear from 1904-1943, the year she became the first federally appointed woman judge in Canada and the Commonwealth. Helen Kinnear was also the first woman in the Commonwealth to be granted in 1934, “King’s Council,” a distinction given to noteworthy lawyers. She was also the first woman lawyer to appear before the Supreme Court of Canada. The house exhibits a combination of Edwardian and Victorian architectural styles. – Port Colborne Book 1

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

155 Main Street West – The Century House – c. 1889 – The early-twentieth century commercial building was constructed in a vernacular version of the Classical Revival style popular in rural Ontario. It has a flat façade with symmetrical window arrangement and a gable end. It is characteristic of small town store construction of mid-nineteenth century combining a first-floor shop with residence above; it incorporates innovations of later-nineteenth century commercial buildings with larger panes of glass in the shop windows and a recessed store entrance. It is now “Deli on Main”. – Port Colborne Book 2

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

145 Main Street West – The Augustine House was built by Elias Augustine circa 1860, it displays a mixture of mid-nineteenth century detail. The gable front arrangement and symmetrical placement of doors and windows are from the Greek Revival style. The semi-elliptical shape of the openings is an Italianate detail. Note the detailed woodwork of the verandah with its small pediment framing the double-leaved front door. Mr. Augustine was an owner of the carriage manufacturing firm of Augustine and Kilmer. Some production for the business was done in a blacksmith shop formerly located behind the house. – Port Colborne Book 2

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

Lift Bridge with ship

Architectural Photos, Port Colborne, Ontario

214 Steele Street – Steele Street Public School – The symmetrical red brick façade trimmed with yellow terra cotta tile with an impressive central pediment show the dignified Edwardian Classical style, the style that was at the height of its popularity in 1915 when the school was built. The school and the street were named for the Steele family who were early settlers of Humberstone Township. – Port Colborne Book 2