Port Colborne | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Port Colborne

Port Colborne, Ontario, incorporated as a city in 1966, population 18,306 (2016 census), 18,424 (2011 census). The city of Port Colborne is located on Lake Erie and serves as the south port of entry to the Welland Canal. It was named for Sir John Colborne, a lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada.

Settlement and Development

Port Colborne was founded in 1833 with the construction of the Welland Canal. It expanded to serve each successive waterway. Lock 8, the longest on the canal, is located here. At 421 m it is also the second longest canal lock in the world. The town grew around its harbour. It benefited from its location on the Welland Railway and on the Buffalo and Lake Huron (now Canadian National) Railway.

Port Colborne attracted wealthy American tourists in the late 1880s. The mansions on Tennessee Avenue, built as summer homes, reflect their influence.


Industries associated with the canal have included the servicing of vessels, flour milling, repair and breakup of vessels, lake fishing and limestone quarrying. The city also has an important nickel refinery. The surrounding industrial areas occupy land reclaimed from the lake bed. Intensive agriculture in the rural vicinity occupies former marshland. Today’s tourism is reflected in summer cottage and residential developments along the shoreline in both directions. The Historical and Marine Museum consists of seven heritage buildings in the city centre.

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