Grimsby Beach cottages
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.