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Port Maitland, Ontario

Port Maitland a small community on the North shore of Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Grand River, just a short distance west of Rock Point Provincial Park. The area first developed when a Navy depot was established there in 1815 to guard against an American invasion.

Eventually commercial fishing attracted even more residents to the village. When the Feeder Canal was built in 1845, allowing ships to navigate from the Welland Canal and Lake Erie to the Upper Grand River, Port Maitland became one of the most popular harbours along the north shore of Lake Erie.

The Grand River flows inland from Lake Erie and the community is divided by the river. At one time a ferry took passengers, including horse and carriages across the Grand River. Today anyone wishing to visit both sides must cross the bridge via Hwy.3.

On the west side of the Grand River is the Port Maitland pier. There is also a public boat launch, picnic areas and a children's playground. On the east side of the Grand River are the remains of the old Feeder Canal. Commercial fishing still takes place here, but on a much smaller scale. There are several cairns with plaques that read:

Commercial Fishing Industry

Port Maitland was a major commercial fishing port from the mid-1800's until the late 1950's. Fishing took place in the Grand River and Lake Erie, netting abundant amounts of sturgeon, bass, herring, whitefish, pickerel, perch and clams. Gradually, Port Maitland became the home of one of the largest fresh water fishing fleets in the Americas. This provided good income for many area families for more than 100 years: some are still fishing here today. Henry Ross is credited as the first commercial fisherman in the area.

Feeder Canal and Lock

In 1845 the Feeder Canal was extended from Stromness (once called "Broad Creek") to the nearby Port Maitland Lock. This allowed ships to navigate from both the Welland Canal and from Lake Erie to the Upper Grand River. The Feeder Canal brought a dramatic increase in river traffic to Dunnville. Port Maitland was one of the finest harbours on the north shore of Lake Erie. A great many boats would seek refuge in the mouth of the Grand River from the vicious storms.

Grand River Naval Depot

In 1815 a small detachment of the Royal Navy established the first base on Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Grand River, which was to enforce the Rush-Bagot Treaty (1814) to protect Upper Canada from another invasion from the United States. The wharf and four buildings were washed away in a storm in 1827. The Naval Depot was officially closed in 1834; however, historical references as late as 1850 indicate that, despite decay, there was further activity on the site.

Places to Explore

Backhouse Heritage Conservation Area
Hillman Marsh
Long Point Provincial Park
Point Pelee National Park
Port Burwell Provincial Park
Rock Point Provincial Park
Ruthven Park, National Historic Site
Taquanyah Conservation Area
Vittoria Conservation Area
Wintering Site, National Historic Site

Ontario Towns and Cities

Long Point, Ontario
Normandale, Ontario
Port Dover, Ontario
Port Maitland, Ontario
Port Rowan, Ontario
Port Ryerse, Ontario
Port Stanley, Ontario
Turkey Point, Ontario
Vittoria, Ontario
Waterford, Ontario
York, Ontario

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