Many people fantasize about waterfront vacations: drinks on lakeside patios, relaxing with family on sandy beaches, having round-the-clock access to high quality water. Well, the Village of Port Stanley in southwestern Ontario meets all of those dream expectations and more. If you are thinking about making the move, then check out this ultimate guide to Port Stanley to see what this village can offer you!
Where is Port Stanley? What is the Population?
Where is Port Stanley? Right on the water, of course. Located right on the shore of Lake Erie, this village really couldn’t get any more “waterfront”! In terms of land, the Village of Port Stanley is one of the communities that make up the Central Elgin Township in the larger Elgin County. Port Stanley occupies 3.3 square kilometers of land and houses a population of just over 2,100 people. The population of Port Stanley alone is 17% of the total population in the Central Elgin Township. The village is under 30 minutes from the 401 Highway, which connects it tidily with the rest of Southern Ontario. Its closest urban neighbour is St. Thomas, Ontario which is 16 km to the North. Even further North is the larger London, Ontario at about 40 km away.
Living and Working in Port Stanley: Real Estate and Services
When comparing the Real Estate markets in the Central Elgin area, Port Stanley comes out on top for number of homes for sale and overall market activity. There is something special about a waterfront town that draws people in like nothing else. In Elgin County, the market has picked up in 2019, seeing 25% more homes listed and 1% more homes sold than in 2018. The average listing price of a home in Elgin County is around $360,000, which is also rising in 2019.
In Port Stanley, homes are for sale as low as $350,000 and as high as $1.3 million dollars with an average price in between of around $560,000. Housing options include rural cottages, lakeside vacation homes, and year-round residential properties. Two new developments are in the process of being built in Port Stanley, Sunset Bluffs and Kokomo Beach Club. Sunset Bluffs is currently building its fourth Phase, offering bungalows and two-story homes starting in the $200,000s. Kokomo Beach Club is a newer development right on the waters of Port Stanley Beach with single family homes starting in the mid $400,000 range and condominium suites starting around $300,000.
As a desirable destination in the Great Lakes region, Port Stanley employs a lot of people locally in the tourism and hospitality sector. However, if work takes you to St. Thomas or even London, Ontario, the commute from a lakeside property in Port Stanley is still manageable. Heading North, St. Thomas is 20 minutes away and London is a slightly further 40 minute drive.
Port Stanley falls under the jurisdiction of the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board. There is one public school within the village called Kettle Creek which takes students from Kindergarten up to Grade 8. After elementary school, children in the public board need to travel to secondary school in St. Thomas. Both extended and French Immersion programs are offered in St. Thomas as well. All options for the Catholic school board are located in St. Thomas.
Thames Valley District School Board
Kettle Creek Public School (JK to Grade 8), Port Stanley
Éva Circé Côté French Immersion Public School (SK to Grade 8), St. Thomas
Pierre Elliott Trudeau French Immersion Public School (Grade 7 to Grade 8), St. Thomas
Arthur Voaden Secondary School (Grades 9 to 12), St. Thomas
Central Elgin Collegiate Institute (Grades 9 to 12), St. Thomas
Parkside Collegiate Institute (Grades 9 to 12), St. Thomas
London District Catholic School Board
St. Anne’s (JK to Grade 8)(English and French Immersion), St. Thomas
St. Joseph’s High (Grades 9 to 12), St. Thomas
Mother Teresa Secondary (French Immersion) (Grades 9 to 12), London
History of Port Stanley and Area
What do Port Stanley and the NHL Stanley Cup have in common? They are named after the same family! Originally, the area of Port Stanley was known as Kettle Creek, but it was changed to Stanley in honor of Edward Smith-Stanley, a member of British nobility and parliament. It was Smith-Stanley’s son, Frederick Stanley who would later provide the name of the coveted hockey trophy.
The original settlement, Kettle Creek, was founded in the early 1800s by Lieutenant-Colonel John Bostwick. Access to the waters of Lake Erie ensured that Port Stanley was a historically significant area in Southwestern Ontario. Since its completion in 1832, Port Stanley’s harbour was essential for the commercial fishing industry, marine trade, and as a port of entry to Canada. The settlement continued to develop, the London and Port Stanley Railway arriving in the 1850s, and more railroad development on the horizon. In the decades to follow, Port Stanley would begin to cultivate its reputation as a vacation destination - one that it enjoys to this day. By 1874, Port Stanley was formally incorporated as a Village. In 1998, the Village of Port Stanley would join the Village of Belmont and the Yarmouth Township in forming the municipality of Central Elgin.
Things to do In and Around Port Stanley
The most important part of any waterfront community is the water! All of Port Stanley’s beach access is to the waters of Lake Erie. Lake Erie is the second-smallest of the five great lakes and the one with the shallowest and warmest water. Port Stanley offers four public beaches, Erie Rest Beach, Little Beach, Pumphouse Beach, and the Port Stanley Main Beach. The Main Beach has been designated a “Blue Flag” Beach, which means that it has been recognized for its environment, safety, and management. This popular beach is well groomed, featuring sandy-bottom lake water and a rescue service on duty during the summer. Because of the wind in the lake area, the waters of Port Stanley can be the ideal environment for sails and boards alike.
Do you prefer looking at water without necessarily being on a beach? Then consider taking a stroll down Port Stanley’s recently reopened pier. The walkway takes pedestrians out over the waters of Lake Erie all the way to the Port Stanley Lighthouse at the end. After walking all that way, the reward is a stunning view of the shorelines from out on the water.
Port Stanley has activities for everyone to enjoy in just about every season. Spring and summer attract a lot of attention as the weather warms up and Southwestern Ontario begins to emerge from hibernation. Port Stanley is no exception: in addition to their beaches, the Port Stanley Festival Theatre kicks off its Summer Season with shows and workshops. Golf courses change from white to green as the local clubs open their doors: Kettle Creek Golf & Country Club, The Bluffs Golf Club, and Redtail Golf Club are all a short drive from the beaches and shopping in the core of the village. Visitors and residents can also enjoy a ride on the Port Stanley Terminal Rail, a scenic trip through the village and surrounding area that changes depending on the season. The Terminal Rail even offers special festive cars like the Easter Egg Hunt Train, The Pumpkin Train, The Halloween Murder Mystery Train, and the Winter’s Santa Treats Train.
Top 5 Restaurants in Port Stanley
Considering its proximity to the water, it would be a crime not to include a seafood specialty on this list. Barnacles serves deep-fried appetizers, burgers, wings, and other finger food, but the best part of their menu is the seafood section. They offer fresh Perch and Pickerel meals as well as beer-battered fish and chips. If you’re in the mood for just beer, Barnacles has a selection of local brews that are delicious alone or paired with items on the menu.
Who needs a poolside patio when you can have one on the beach? GT’s is only open for the summer season, but when better to enjoy beach volleyball, the sound of the waves, and a nice, cold drink? Alongside the absolutely MASSIVE drink list, GT’s also offers a full menu of refreshing fusion flavours and taste-breakers - and naturally, seafood right out of the lake.
If you need a break from the sunshine or a warm drink on a colder day, then the Village Square Coffee House needs to be on your radar. They offer hot coffee, iced coffee, espresso, and smoothies - whatever you need to battle the weather in any season. They have daily specials on meals, serving soup, chili, stir fry, and lighter options like sandwiches. If you are after something sweet, nothing goes better with coffee than this coffee house’s collection of homemade baked goods.
4. SoLo on Main
Fresh ingredients, colourful plating, and a charming atmosphere all come together in SoLo on Main. Take a step back from the beach and appreciate the Village of Port Stanley through its local flavours. SoLo offers a curated menu for both lunch and dinner each of which features an extensive selection of premium dishes from both land and sea with a wine to match. The clean-looking menu also clearly highlights gluten-free and vegetarian options.
This inn was built in 1849, intended as a summer getaway home originally; it was converted into an inn 70 years down the line. Kettle Creek has been restored and maintained, but never lost its quaint, country charm. Even if you’re not looking for a place to stay in Port Stanley, the Inn is worth visiting for the dining alone. Guests can choose to enjoy the elegant, full-course menu in the parlor, dining rooms, pub, or under the gazebo.
Port Stanley has been promoted as a prime getaway spot since the 1800s and with everything it has to offer, it’s not hard to see why. It is a rare gem of a village which marries rich, southwestern Ontario heritage with warm, sandy beaches. With the recent subdivision development in the area, there is no better time to investigate a piece of the Village of Port Stanley for yourself.