Monday, August 22, 2016

Lake Erie Ports

The Lake Erie shoreline is full of farms, small sand cliffs and beaches and the many ports that launch hundreds of pleasure craft and fishing boats into the waters of the shallowest and second smallest of the five Great Lakes. If you dislike the crowded three hour drive north of Toronto to get to Muskoka and Haliburton Highlands, this is the place for you.
Setting a path through Hamilton and down to Port Dover and following the lake's edge westward to Port Stanley, we briefly visit Turkey Point, Port Rowan and Port Burwell. Saturday's traffic is light along the Waterfront Trail and full of beautiful scenery and large wind turbines. Warmer temperatures and farm runoff of fertilizers help promote algae blooms in the lake but along the shore we only saw cloudy water churned up by light waves hitting the inviting sand beaches.
The rows of tobacco which thrived in the sandy soil have been largely replaced by crops of corn and other edible produce and the tobacco kilns have, in a lot of cases, been allowed to fall down.
Lake Erie's commercial fishing boats and fish processing industry catch and prepare tens of millions of dollars worth of Walleye, yellow perch and lake whitefish, which also provide tasty menu options at the local restaurants. The distinctive steel fishing boats, or tugs, look like a combination of tug boat, cabin cruiser and submarine. The boat is almost all covered over to protect the crew from the sometimes harsh environment of the lake where small winds can generate big waves.
Fishing boats docked in Port Stanley
There are some provincial parks along Lake Erie, with great swimming beaches and campgrounds like Rock Point, Selkirk, Turkey Point and Long Point. The blow up birds in the photo at top can be found in the stores at Turkey Point. Long sandy beaches perfect for swimming in shallow, warm waters can also be found in the port towns like Dover, Stanley and Burwell (home of the submarine). On the way to Lake Erie you can also find fun at Winter Wheat in Sparta and the bee place in Aylmer (Clovermead Adventure).
Port Rowan has some cool boat sheds that line the harbour marina, situated in the shallow, marshy waters along the east side of Long Point's 35km long sand spit. The water is full of algae and seeweed which two young harbour workers are trying to remove with small, hand thrown rakes. It looks like they have a big job ahead of them.

See more of the area after the jump,

Raking out the seaweed
Only a small channel is free of the choking seaweed and algae

The Pathfinder leaves Port Stanley
A small lighthouse sits in the water along the wetlands

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