Originally called Gravelly Bay, after the shallow, bedrock-floored bay upon which it sits, the modern City of Port Colborne traces its roots back to the settlements that grew up in the area following the American Revolution. Growth became focussed around the southern entry into the Welland Canal after it was extended to reach Lake Erie in 1833. As the population rose, Port Colborne was incorporated as a village in 1870, became a town in 1918, merged with neighbouring Humberstone in 1952, and was re-incorporated as a city in 1966.
In more recent years, Port Colborne has been successful in attracting new industry, significantly the agro-business operations of Casco Inc.and Jungbunzlauer, which process corn into products such as sweeteners and citric acid. However, the economy has gradually shifted towards tourism and recreation, taking advantage of the scenic beauty of the lakeshore. The International Nickel Company (now Vale) has long been one of the city’s main employers, since the opening of a refinery in 1918. Taking advantage of inexpensive hydroelectricity from generating stations at nearby Niagara Falls, the refinery produced electro-refined nickel for the war effort, and grew to employ over 2,000 workers by the 1950s. Cutbacks in operations and increasing factory automation have reduced the workforce to its present day total of 190.
With a population of 18,599 Port Colborne keeps its small town warmth and charm. Covering a land area of 121.97 square kilometres. The City of Port Colborne includes the communities of Bethel, Cedar Bay, Echo Beach, Gasline, Humberstone, Nickel Beach, Pine Crest Point, Pleasant Beach, Sherkston, Sherkston Beaches, Shisler Point and Silver Bay.
Port Colborne hosts the annual Canal Days festival in recognition of the important role played by the Welland Canal in the history of the city. Originating as a small fair held at the Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum, it has grown to feature live music, an antique car show, fireworks, tall ships, a kite festival, and food from around the globe. The festival also highlights the presence of Lock 8, which at 1,380 ft (420 m), is one of the world’s longest canal locks. The lock is intended as a guard to keep the water level on the Welland Canal constant independent of weather on the lake. Hence the ships are only raised or lowered one to four feet depending on the current water level in Lake Erie. Much of the festival centres around West St., which runs along the side of the canal, and has an excellent view of the Clarence St. Bridge, one of very few remaining lift bridges on the canal.
The Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum, located near the centre 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, named to commemorate the long-standing efforts of a local resident who devoted hours to the museum.
The community features theatre venues with the professional Showboat Festival Theatre and the amateur Port Colborne Operatic Society. The company has been presenting annual productions since its inception in 1945.
Kinnear House is a local heritage property associated with the jurist Helen Alice Kinnear, the first woman in Canada to be appointed judge by the federal government, or to appear as counsel before the Supreme Court.
A curiosity in town is the “incredible shrinking mill” which is an optical illusion produced when viewing the federal grain elevator. When travelling east on Lakeshore road, the mill appears to move farther away as one drives closer.
For locals and visitors alike Port Colborne is a welcoming community offering something to everyone, from outdoor activities to shopping, crafting, farming, churches, arena, indoor and outdoor sports and community clubs and events.
Relocating to Port Colborne is easy with very affordable real estate both intown and in the rural outer boundaries. Team Neumann is available to help you find the perfect home. Buying a home in Port Colborne is easy and stress free when you have all the right information and the right team working for you! We will walk you through the home buying experience step by step and provide you all the information you will need to make the best and most educated home purchase.
- City of Port Colborne: portcolborne.com
- Cdn Niagara Hydro: 905.871.0330 or 905.835.0051
- Port Colborne Transit: portcolborne.ca/page/Port_Colborne_Transit
- Port Colborne Weather: theweathernetwork.com
- Port Colborne General Hospital: niagarahealth.on.ca
- Port Colborne Public Schools: portcolborne.ca/page/education
- Niagara Catholic District School Board: niagararc.com