Grimsby Beach cot­tages

Canada's History - - CURRENTS -

A vi­brant legacy un­der­lies the pic­turesque gin­ger­bread cot­tages of Grimsby Beach, On­tario, which are nes­tled in the Ni­a­gara re­gion along the south­ern shore of Lake On­tario. At the turn of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, this sum­mer haven drew thou­sands of vis­i­tors an­nu­ally by steam­boat from Toronto, Hamil­ton, and even nearby Buf­falo, New York, to en­joy its ameni­ties and cot­tages.

Grimsby Beach be­gan in 1875 as the On­tario Methodist Camp Ground Com­pany. At­trac­tions in­cluded lawn games, boat ren­tals, “the Tem­ple” for daily worship, and cot­tages. Con­structed on what had been tent lots, the board-and-bat­ten cot­tages were built nar­row and long, with or­nate wood­work. Fam­i­lies of­ten leased cot­tages for the sum­mer while the fathers com­muted to work by pub­lic trans­port. Grimsby Beach was highly ac­ces­si­ble, with both the Grand Trunk Rail­way and steam­boats mak­ing mul­ti­ple trips to nearby cities.

When the com­pany went bank­rupt in 1910, amuse­ment park owner H.H. Wylie pur­chased the land, dis­carded its Methodist ori­gins, and re­named it “Grimsby Beach.”

At its height, six­teen thou­sand vis­i­tors flocked to the beach each year to en­joy Wylie’s mid­way ad­di­tion, which fea­tured games, a merry-go-round, and a roller coaster. Vis­i­tors in­cluded the Group of Seven’s Lawren Har­ris, who cap­tured the tourist at­trac­tion on can­vas in his 1926 Sum­mer Houses, Grimsby Beach.

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