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Walking Tour  

Self Guided Walking Tour of Port Burwell

I. Port Burwell Lighthouse II. 16 Erieus Street
III. 20 Erieus Street IV. 31 Wellington Street
V. 35 Wellington Street VI. Wellington Street
VII. 37 Wellington Street VIII. Trinity Anglican Church
IX. The Parish Hall X. 47 Wellington Street
XI. Robinson Street XII. St. Paul’s United Church
XIII. View From Bridge XIV. 3 Bridge Street, Beechwood


For an interesting and historic walk through Port Burwell, follow the map and note these historic stops. Many of which were homes built by prominent early settlers, while others are now historic landmarks such as the Lighthouse and the Trinity Anglican Church. The tour takes approximately 2 hours. When you’re finished, enjoy a tasty lunch at any one of the great restaurants on the main street.

I. Port Burwell Lighthouse

Built in 1840, the lighthouse is Canada’s oldest wooden lighthouse. It stands 65 feet high and underwent an extensive renovation in 1986. Although all the lumber used in the original structure came from the Big Otter Valley, the lamp mechanism had to be imported from France. The Sutherland family earned widespread recognition as they “kept the light” for over a century. After guiding many ships to safety and witnessing frequent shipwrecks, the light was put out of service in the 1950’s. Adjacent to the lighthouse are anchors from the schooner NIMROD that sank after colliding with another ship in the fog off nearby Port Bruce.

II. 16 Erieus Street

J.P. Bellairs, the first lighthouse keeper of Port Burwell, owned this Classical Revival house built in the 1830’s. A handsome Greek Revival entrance with Doric pilasters is hidden behind the enclosed porch. Note the small-paned Georgian windows.

III. 20 Erieus Street

The only Neoclassic house in Port Burwell became the first rectory after Mahlon Burwell gave it to the Church of England in 1837. Note the fine pilasters, classical moulding and details on the entrance and on the Venetian window above it. Originally the French doors opened to a long porch extending across the front and along the north side of the house. A young priest Reverend Dewdney who lived in this house while serving at Trinity Anglican Church later became a bishop of the Huron diocese.

IV. 31 Wellington Street

The style of this house and the next two houses on the tour is Queen Anne Revival. Typical features are the multi-gables, porches, fish scale decoration, slate roofs and stained glass windows. Note the geometric pattern in the windows of this house. The Williams family, the local grocers, owned it and later it became the Baptist manse.

V. 35 Wellington Street

Built in 1874 by Charles Stephens, this red brick house has been altered over the years. Unique to this house are the decorative lintels of moulded concrete that are also part of the original carriage house now destroyed. When Dr. J. F. Rogers married Delia Cameron who inherited the house he built a dispensary on the property. This structure is now part of a home on Waterloo Street. Trinity Church bought the house in 1950 to serve as its third rectory.

VI. Wellington Street

This house was built in Vienna by Thomas Finch, operator of a sawmill there. His daughter Maryann, and her husband, Charles Oscar Edison, acquired the house soon after construction. C.O. Edison was the son of prominent Vienna settler, Capt. Samuel Edison. C.O. was also the uncle of inventor Thomas Alva Edison. The post and beam structure with its pilasters, symmetrical white façade and green accents reflects the Greek revival style of architecture. The house played an important part in village social life while owned by Mr. And Mrs. Edison and later by his daughter, Nora Edison Coombe. Jim and Mary Beth Hevenor moved it from Vienna to Port Burwell in 1989.

VII. 37 Wellington Street

The third in the Queen Anne trio, is notable for its exceptionally fine stained glass and interesting half moon and oval windows. The original wraparound verandah afforded a lovely view of Trinity and acreage donated to the Church by Colonel Burwell. There have been many owners. Once the property of Dr. Hevenor, it later became a nursing home.

VIII. Trinity Anglican Church

On May 22, 1836, Archdeacon John Strachan conducted the first service at this colonial gothic church that was donated by Colonel Burwell to the Church of England. The front northeast pew was reserved for the Burwell family. In 1909 the box pews were removed and the interior was changed to look much as we see it today. In 1978, the spire was demolished during a severe storm. The replacement spire is shorter than the original. Many of Port Burwell’s earliest settlers including some of the Burwell’s are buried in the adjacent cemetery that takes up only part of the original land deeded by the colonel to the church.

IX. The Parish Hall

In 1908, the Port Burwell Continuation School was built in a contemporary version of the Greek Revival Style. The principal William Walker had a staff of two and later three. In 1925 when a new school was built, the original building was moved across the street to become the Trinity Anglican Parish Hall. Recently threatened with demolition, this structure has been saved and renovated by dedicated members of the parish who appreciate the historic significance of this building to Port Burwell.

X. 47 Wellington Street

In 1891 A.R. Wright moved to Port Burwell and established his hardware business. In 1895 he purchased the corner of Wellington and Victoria. There was a one-story house that is the main floor of the present home. In approximately 1907 the second-story and west wing were added. The house is currently owned by the grandson of Mr. Wright and is operated as a bed and breakfast.

XI. 102 Robinson Street

This early Gothic Revival house eventually became the second Anglican rectory. The original features of this formerly gracious home including the clapboard hidden by grey asphalt siding are being rediscovered during the recent restoration.

XII. St. Paul’s United Church

Located on land originally owned by Leonidas Burwell and his wife, it was given to the trustees of the Port Burwell Congregation of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Canada. The original frame church building was erected in 1852. The present, larger building was completed and dedicated in 1911 by David Marshall, MP, Mrs. E.E. McConnell, and Squire William Backus, founder of the original Methodist Church in Port Burwell.

XIII. View From Bridge

Site of Historic Ship Building Area

To your left, below, is the harbour area and dockage for commercial fishing tugs and sport-fishing boats. This area was once a shipyard for flourishing vessel, the Leander, was built in 1821. Port Burwell became widely recognized for its quality ships of over 300 tons. They were used to carry goods, especially lumber, around the Great Lakes and oceans. The 1860’s and 1870’s were the busiest years for shipbuilding. Lumber for the industry was cut from the heavily forested Bayham area to the north, which was mainly white oak and pine. Most ships built in the later part of the 19th century were schooners. The Edward Blake, built in 1872 was 136 feet. 71 ships are recorded to have been built at Port Burwell during these early years. A highly respected boat builder of steel vessels, Ralph Hurley’s skills became widely recognized. He built sturdy steel fishing tugs and other types for more than 50 years. His last boat was launched in 1986.

XIV. 3 Bridge Street, Beechwood

This home, known as Beechwood, was built in 1842 by Leonidas Burwell, third son of Col. Mahlon Burwell. Leonidas was the first Deputy Reeve for the township and owned a shipyard on the west side of the creek. The home stayed in the Burwell family until the 1930’s.


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