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Port Dalhousie, Ontario

Port Dalhousie, a small hamlet along the shores of Lake Ontario between Hamilton and Niagara on the Lake, traces its history back to first three Welland Canals, when it was used as the terminus on Lake Ontario for vessels plying the lakes.

The canal ran from Port Dalhousie on Lake Ontario to Port Robinson on the Welland River. A southbound ship would enter the canal at Port Dalhousie, sail up the canal to Port Robinson, pass through a lock into the Welland River, sail down the river to Chippawa, where oxen would tow the ship against the flow of the Niagara River to Fort Erie.

Later, to avoid the laborious tow, the route of the canal was changed to take it from Port Robinson to Port Colborne. Eventually Port Dalhousie became part of the City of St. Catharines.

Peter Ten Broeck, a former captain of Butler’s Rangers, who had fought so gallantly at Fort Niagara, was awarded a grant of land, west of Newark, along the Lake Ontario shore. His relative, Nathan Pawling, received 300 acres of this grant, and this became the site of the first Welland Canal.


Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie still operates a carousel where riders are only charged a nickel per ride.

Prosperity soon followed and the tiny hamlet became known for its dry docks and shipbuilding industry, established by the Muirs, a group of brothers who emigrated from Scotland in 1834.

Their business was located in Port Dalhousie from 1839 to 1948. When the entrance to the Welland Canal moved from there to Port Weller, Muir Brothers built a dry dock there and its successor is still operating.

Today visitors to Port Dalhousie can step back in time. Many of the original buildings are still standing and today house several fine boutiques and restaurants.

Sit on the patio of the Port Mansion, originally two hotels – The McGrath Hotel built by Bernard McGrath in 1860 and the Union Hotel, built by Nathan Pawling and enjoy the view of Lake Ontario and the 5 cent carousel in Lakeside Park. Both hotels were amalgamated into one hotel in 1936. Today it operates as a theatre and restaurant.


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