For many residents of southwestern Ontario, Lake Huron is the go-to getaway destination. From camping amid the forest of Pinery Provincial Park to enjoying the sand and sun on one of Lambton Shores many beaches, there is something for everyone along the lake’s shore. In Port Franks, Ontario, permanent and seasonal residents get to own a slice of beach life away from the tourism and bustle of more well-known areas like Grand Bend. Check out our handy guide to see what living in Port Franks is all about!
About Port Franks: Where is Port Franks, Ontario?
Port Franks is a lakeside community in Lambton County in southwestern Ontario. The community is part of the municipality of Lambton Shores which runs along the shore of Lake Huron in the county. Port Franks and its beaches are located to the southwest of the Pinery Provincial Park, between Kettle Point and Grand Bend. Lambton Shores has a total population of 10,631 permanent residents, but that number increases significantly across the spring and summer when campers and cottagers arrive in the municipality. The area’s primary industries are tourism and recreation which benefits from the parks, beaches, cottages, and campsites. Agriculture is also strong in rural areas where the main crops are corn, winter wheat, and soybeans. Like its neighbours on the shoreline, Port Franks experiences higher levels of rainfall and snowfall because of Lake Huron.
Real Estate in Port Franks
According to the Sarnia-Lambton real estate board, the average price for a residential property in the area was in the low-to-mid $300,000s at the beginning of 2020. Residential properties range widely in Port Franks. Some listings can be close to the regional average, while waterfront properties and secluded lots can easily reach multi-million dollar price tags.
The market in Port Franks is smaller than Kettle Point and Grand Bend, but caters to similar requests. Port Franks is popular for seasonal residents looking for a wooded cottage, rural acreage, or lake access for boating and other water sports. Seasonal properties in Port Franks have the added potential to be rented out to guests when not in use.
Living in Port Franks
The community of Port Franks is one potential stop on the Kings Highway 21 which follows the shoreline of Lake Huron all the way north to Owen’s Sound before it connects to the 402 south of Kettle Point. Using Lambton Shore’s convenient network of highways, Port Franks is about 15 minutes away from Forest and 45 minutes away from Sarnia. Forest and Sarnia serve the community as the nearest population centres and service hubs. The City of Sarnia doubles as a border with the United States as it connects to Port Huron, Michigan. Another larger southwestern Ontario city, London, is also just under an hour drive away.
The Port Franks Community Centre offers kitchen and bar facilities, seating and tables, two tennis courts, outdoor picnic tables, and a branch of the Lambton County Public Library. The nearest general hospital to Port Franks is the South Huron Hospital in Exeter, Ontario. The hospital is 35 minutes away and has an emergency department that is open 24 hours.
Schools near Port Franks
Port Franks doesn’t have any schools in the community, but there are several nearby options in other areas of the municipality and county. The schools across both the public and Catholic boards are usually found in the larger population centres like Forest and Sarnia, so it is quite common for students to be riding a bus to school.
Lambton Kent District School Board
• Grand Bend Public School (JK to Grade 8), Grand Bend
• Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School (Grades 9 to 12), Sarnia
• North Lambton Secondary School (Grades 9 to 12), Forest
St. Clair Catholic District School Board
• St. John Fisher Catholic School (JK to Grade 8), Forest
• St. Patrick’s Catholic High School (Grades 9 to 12), Sarnia
Port Franks is also under an hour away from several post-secondary institutions, allowing some students to continue living in the community while commuting to Sarnia and London, Ontario. 40 minutes away is the Lambton College main campus in Sarnia and London offers Fanshawe College, Western University, and Westervelt College about an hour away.
History of Port Franks, Ontario
Today, Port Franks is one of many former villages that makes up the municipality of Lambton Shores. The municipality was created in 2001, when Forest, Ontario merged with nearby villages. Going back further, Port Franks was founded around the point where the Ausable River meets with Lake Huron. The community was formally recognized as a village within Lambton County in 1877. During the earliest years of the settlement, Port Franks’ natural resources attracted many different people for a variety of reasons. Like the settlement at Grand Bend, visitors were drawn to Port Franks due to its relaxing location close to woodland and the lakeside. The other attraction in the area was a salt mine discovered in the late 19th century. Though the salt industry did not last, Port Franks remains to this day a popular stop for cottagers and tourists.
Things to do in and around Port Franks, Ontario
Two different natural ecosystems are preserved on either side of Port Franks. To the northeast, the community is a less than 10 minute drive away from the Pinery Provincial Park. Home to campgrounds and trails, this park is an example specimen of a special Oak Savanna Forest filled with rare species of flora and fauna. Hikers can enjoy the trails during the spring, summer, and fall while snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular winter pastimes. The park also offers year-round campgrounds with a variety of amenities for any season. The Forested Dunes Nature Reserve lies to the southwest of Port Franks. This protected land is part of the overall Port Franks Dunes & Wetlands Complex and offers more trail options for hikers.
When it comes to accessing Lake Huron, the docks of Port Franks are nationally renowned. There are a total of 12 Blue Flag recognized marinas in Canada - a designation earned by keeping waters clean and accessible to the public - and one of them is the Port Franks Marina. The marina has a public space for launching boats for the season as well as boat slips available, public washrooms, and a picnic area for enjoying a view of the lake. The Port Franks private beach is another fun way to appreciate Lake Huron. A great spot for families to enjoy the sand, water, and sunsets.
Just up the Lake Huron shoreline is the popular beach destination, Grand Bend. While Port Franks has access to nice private beaches of their own, Grand Bend has many other attractions to inspire a day trip. Between seasonal celebrations, a jam-packed theatre season at the Huron County Playhouse, and a fantastic selection of dining options, you could fill a day trip several times over.
If you are looking for more information about attractions in Grand Bend, check out our ultimate guide on Grand Bend : The Ultimate Guide to Living in Grand Bend (2020).
If you are looking at Lambton Shores to own property close to Lake Huron, then Grand Bend should not be the only community on your list. Port Franks offers beaches, parks, and marinas without the crowd and clamour of Grand Bend on a warm, summer day. If you’re in the market for a seasonal cottage, retirement spot, or a permanent change of scenery, the community of Port Franks is more than worthy of your consideration!