FAQs about our community...

How did Port Colborne get its name?
Our community was first called Sugarloaf, and later Gravelly Bay. Following the completion of the First Welland Canal in 1833, William Hamilton Merritt purchased land surrounding Gravelly Bay and re-named the Canal's southern port-of-entry in honour of the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada (Ontario), Sir John Colborne. A former commander in the British Army, Sir John led the decisive infantry at the Battle of Waterloo. As Lieutenant-Governor, he helped establish Upper Canada College. At a critical point in the construction of the First Welland Canal he assisted Merritt in finding British investors for the struggling Canal project.

Has Anyone Famous Come From Port Colborne?
A number of Port Colborne residents have left their mark on the world. The City has produced a number of well-known athletes, including Ted 'Teeder' Kennedy, former captain of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs; Don Simmons, a goalie for Toronto and Boston; and Bronco Horvath, a forward for the Boston Bruins.

Other well-known residents include ship owner Scott Misener; CBC parliamentary correspondent Eric Sorensen; former Canadian Ambassador to Saudia Arabia Alan Lever, and humourist and author William Thomas.

Judge Helen Kennear was the first woman in the Commonwealth to be given the designation of 'Kings Council', and the first female lawyer to appear before the Supreme Court of Canada. She was also the first woman judge in the Commonwealth. A postage stamp honouring Helen Kinnear was issued by the Government of Canada in 1993.

Where Is Downtown Port Colborne?
Port Colborne began on the east side of Welland Canal. Its first commercial district was on "East Street." Later, new stores and warehouses were establish on the opposite side of the Canal on West Street. When a new channel was constructed in 1932 for the Fourth Welland Canal, East Street was demolished and the area excavated. This area is marked by the span of the Clarence Lift Bridge.

Ever since Port Colborne amalgamated with the Town of Humberstone in 1952, the community has had two separate commercial areas. The Old Humberstone Business District is located along Main Street (Highway 3) west of Lock 8 Gateway Park. This area contains a variety of services, retail stores, restaurants and taverns. The Downtown Business District centres on Clarence Street and several adjoining streets (including Historic West Street). This area contains retail shops, small boutiques, restaurants, bars, financial institutions and a variety of government services.

Where Can I Park Near West Street & the Downtown Business District?
There are a total of 575 free parking spaces located in the Downtown Business District. One hour parallel parking spaces can be found along Clarence, King, Charlotte and Catharine Streets. Parking along Historic West Street is limited to 2 hours north of Catharine, and 1 hour south of Catharine.

Free Municipal parking lots are located at Market Square (corner of Charlotte and Catharine Streets) and beside the railway tracks just north of the Clarence-King Street intersection. These lots contain parking for nearly 200 vehicles. Visitors with trailers or RVs should use the City's municipal parking lots whenever possible. A bus parking area has been designated on the west side of King Street next to Niagara Credit Union.

Why Are there Grain Elevators at the Entrance To the Harbour?
Ever since the First Welland Canal was completed to Port Colborne in 1833, Great Lakes ship owners have attempted to lower their overhead costs by constructing larger and larger vessels. When the grain growing areas of the Canadian prairies opened up during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, new bulk carriers were launched to transport grain from Fort William and Port Arthur (present-day Thunder Bay) to ports in eastern Canada and the United States. Many of these ships were too large to pass through the Canal locks. Therefore Port Colborne developed into an important trans-shipment point for the loading and unloading of grain onto smaller canal boats or connecting railways.

The Government Grain Terminal stands closest to Sugarloaf Harbour. It was constructed in 1908 to store wheat shipped from the Canadian prairies. In 1919, an explosion blew the top off the elevators, killing 10 workers, sinking a barge, and shattering windows throughout the community. The facility reopened in 1920 and continues to function as a major Great Lakes grain terminal.

The old Maple Leaf Mills facility sits immediately adjacent to the canal. Completed in 1910, it was , at one time, the largest flour mill in the British Empire. The facility was substantially rebuilt in 1960 following an explosion and fire. Today the mill is operated by Archer Daniels Midland.

These facilities, combined with the Robin Hood Mills operation on the Welland Canal near Ramey's Bend, make Port Colborne the flour milling capital of Canada.


FAQs about our location...

How Do I Get To Niagara Falls?
The most scenic drive involves traveling east on Highway 3 to Fort Erie and then along the Niagara River Parkway to Niagara Falls. This leads visitors directly to the Falls and Victoria Park. However, if you wish to get to Niagara Falls quickly, more direct routes are listed below.

Highway 140 is the best starting point for travelers who desire a more direct route to Niagara Falls accommodations and attractions. Take Highway 140 north to Welland, turn left on Regional Road 27 (East Main Steet) and proceed through the tunnel under Welland Canal. Turn right on Highway 406 and follow it north towards St. Catharines.

Tourism Oriented Directional Signage for Niagara Falls accommodations and attractions appears near the point where Highway 406 interchanges with Regional Road 20. Exit Highway 406, then turn right on Regional Road 20 and proceed east towards Niagara Falls. Highway 20 becomes Lundy's Lane, the location of many motels and campgrounds. Continue on Lundy's Lane and look for directional signs pointing to the Fallsview, Clifton Hill and Victora Park tourist areas.

A quicker, though less scenic, route is to follow Highway 140 to Welland, turning right on to Regional Road 27 (East Main Street). Follow East Main Street, which becomes Schisler Road, to where it ends at a "T" intersection. Turn left on Regional Road 98 (Montrose Road). Follow Montrose Road, past Niagara Square Shopping Centre to the QEW/ McLeod Road interchange. Turn right on McLeod Road and follow the directional signs to the Fallsview and Niagara Parks tourist areas.

The Niagara Falls Tourist Information Centre can be found on Stanley Avenue near Highway 420.


FAQs about the Welland Canal...

How Does the Canal Work?
It all works on gravity. Water flows downhill from the higher elevation of Lake Erie down to Lake Ontario. The water runs through the main shipping channel, as well as spillways located along side. There are large valves located within each lock. When opened, these allow water to flow through tunnels in the walls and into, or out of, the lock. Water enters from the 'reach' above each lock and the 'pondage' area which serves as a reservoir. When emptied into the'reach' below, the water flows on to the next lock, to be used again.

What Do Ships Carry Through the Canal?
Over 80 percent of Canal traffic is made up of bulk cargos like grain, iron and nickel ore, coal, cement, chemicals and oil. Manufactured goods of all kinds pass in and out of the Great Lakes on international container ships. The Provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan supply most of the Canadian grain exports. Wheat, barley, corn, flaxseed, oats, and rye are shipped from the Port of Thunder Bay at the western end of Lake Superior. Lakers taking grain to ports on the Lower St. Lawrence River often load a 'backhaul' shipment of Quebec iron ore for Canadian and American steel mills. Lakers also carry nickel ore and other precious metals from mines near Sudbury to the International Nickel Company (INCO) Refinery in Port Colborne.

Why do they run water on the Decks of Ships passing through the Canal?
On a hot day, ships are often seen with sprays of water, or hoses washing down the decks. This is done to prevent 'hogging.' Hogging occurs when a ship's metal deck expands and arches like "a hog's back.' This forces the bow and stern to expand outwards and downwards, while the hull retains the temperature of the surrounding water and does not change size. The result would be the boat sinking deeper into the water. Any change in a ship's draft can bring it dangerously close the Canal bottom, or shoals or sandbars located near the approaches to the Canal.

Is Lock 8 Different from Other Locks on the Canal?
The first seven locks on the Welland Canal system are lift locks. They are meant to raise or lower ships near Lake Ontario and the Welland Canal. Lock 8 is primarily a guard lock, regulating (along with the Weir dam and Spillway located further west) the amount of water which comes into the Canal from Lake Erie. Depending on weather conditions on Lake Erie, Lock 8 raises a ship between 1 and 4 feet. At 1380 feet, Lock 8 is the longest lock on the Welland Canal and one of the longest in the world!