Norfolk County, located 150 km from Toronto on the north shore of Lake Erie, has several beautiful ports—Port Dover, Port Ryerse, Port Rowan, Turkey Point, Long Point, and more.
Port Dover is famous for its shallow beaches, while Port Ryerse is a great spot for fishing. Port Rowan and Long Point are popular destinations for bird watchers, and Turkey Point is the only Ontario provincial park to include a golf course.
Port Dover is also renowned for its Friday the 13th motorcycle rally. Any time a Friday falls on the 13th, tens of thousands of motorbike enthusiasts descend on the town.
In mid-September, my friend and I spent two days in Port Dover. On the first day, we took part in the Red Apple Rides cycling tour. On this two-and-a half-hour tour, our guide took us to various sites while explaining the history of the town.
Part of the ride went along the famous Lynn Valley Trail, a former CNR rail line that starts in Port Dover and ends 11 km away in Simcoe. Many locals ride along the trail to work in Simcoe. The trail, which runs along the scenic Lynn River, also gives you the option of continuing on to Waterford or Delhi. At the end of the ride we were tired but happy. It was a good workout.
Next, we went for a walk along Erie Beach and saw numerous yachts sailing out of the harbour. We learned that every Wednesday at 6 p.m. a yacht race takes place on Lake Erie. Some boats come from the U.S. side to participate in the weekly race, which has been a fixture in the town for 40 years.
There is a fish market every morning on the beach. The fishermen head out at 4 a.m. and when they return sell the fish they just caught at the market. Chefs often go directly to the market to buy the fresh fish to cook for their customers.
While at the beach we met a local man who owns a yacht. He looked like a fisherman, but actually he was an oil worker up north. He told us that he works in the oilfield for 20 days, then on his 10 days off comes back to Port Dover to sail and relax. What a life!
Later that evening a local friend invited us to a new Italian restaurant in town named Lago Trattoria. I ordered a seasoned seafood and bacon pasta and it was delicious. We spent the night at Bear Hug Bed & Breakfast, a charming Victorian-style home built in 1855. For breakfast the next morning there was a big selection to choose from: quiche, muffins, a variety of fruits, yogurt, coffee, etc.
We then went on a quick trip to Port Rowan, Port Ryerse, and Turkey Point, admiring the scenery along the way. Back in Port Dover, our friend brought us to The Beach House restaurant for lunch. The Beach House and the Erie Beach Hotel are popular dining spots for both locals and tourists alike, and serve top-notch locally grown cuisine.
We ate on the patio and had a perfect view of the beach with its pier, lighthouse, and palm trees. Yes, palm trees! We had no idea palm trees grew in Canada. After we got over our surprise we decided they give Port Dover a distinct Florida feel.