Port Elgin, ON

Port Elgin was a village that rapidly developed due to the men who founded or afterwards lived there; namely Henry Hilker, Samuel Bricker, Clement Sieffert, Benjamin Shantz, Martin Hoover and John Stafford. In 1852-1854 these men settled on farm lots which they had surveyed into village lots in 1857.

Gradually, roads opened, houses were built, and trade and commerce increased. The construction of a pier, built in 1857-1858, permitted the landing of passengers and goods and ultimately built up the export trade of the village. Around the same time that the pier was built, the government undertook the construction of a small breakwater, the first step toward the making of a harbor.

The post office in town was erected in 1854 and called “Normanton”, by the Post Office Department. (Despite the unfavourable reception to the name, it continued as such until 1874, when the village incorporated and the name was changed to Port Elgin.)

Early industries in Port Elgin included wagonmaking, blacksmithing, sawmills, a foundry, brickmaking, a woolen factory, a tannery, and a grist mill. The opening of the railway for traffic in 1873 resulted in an augmented volume of trade. By 1873, the population had increased enough for the by-law to pass (effective January, 1874), to have the village incorporated and separated from the Township of Saugeen.

Port Elgin was incorporated as a town in 1949. The town’s mainstay continues to be a large tourist industry. Tree-lined streets gave the name “The Maples” to the town, reflecting its spacious lawns, fine gardens and neat streets. A cottage area called Goble’s Grove in Saugeen Township has also contributed to the town’s welfare. The town’s name commemorates Lord Elgin, who was Governor-General at the time the settlement was taking shape.

In 1998, Port Elgin amalgamated with Saugeen Township and the town of Southampton to form the town of Saugeen Shores.

Levie, Carmin J. “Reminiscences : Port Elgin Centennial 1874-1974.” Port Elgin, Ont.: Port Elgin Rotary Club, 1974. Print.
Robertson, Heather. “The History of Port Elgin.” 1975. Print.


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