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Port Ryerse Ramblings
by John Cardiff

Port Ryerse was founded on the north shore of Lake Erie at the mouth of Young Creek by United Empire Loyalist Samuel Ryerse, who settled here in 1795. The village's pre-1812 history was documented by his daughter, Amelia (Ryerse) Harris, almost 150 years ago in Amelia's Story.

This lakeside community prospered, particularly during Norfolk's lumber exporting era, 1860-1875. The Port had two piers stretching out into the lake, various shipbuilding businesses, a blacksmith shop, a one-room elementary schoolhouse, four hotels, an Anglican church with churchyard cemetery, a general store, post office and dozens of homes.

Today only the church and general store (now a significantly renovated private home) remain. The community's commercial fortunes sank when the railway bypassed Port Ryerse, in the 1870's. For the next century, the majority of residents were summer cottagers.

In the late 1800's, Simcoe Alligator manufacturers John West and James Peachy built two of the first summer cottages on the beach at Port Ryerse, erecting a shared barn and ice house between them.

My maternal grandfather, Harold M. Jackson (a frequent visitor at his childhood friend "Chick" West's family cottage in his youth), bought those cottages from the West and Peachey families in 1926 and 1932 and "Ryerse"  has been our extended family's summer home for four generations.

In 1948. the West and Peachey barn and ice house were taken down to make way for the cottage I grew up in. A 1982 fire left only the fireplace standing. We rebuilt around it the following spring, adding year round conveniences, and this was my year round home, 1992-2003.  (See Home Sweet Home and Port Ryerse Beach -- my front yard -- at left.) 

A 1970's real estate boom prompted many residents to winterize their cottages into year round homes. Today maybe 20 of 170 homes are not occupied year round.

Today Port Ryerse's mailing address is Rural Route 3, Simcoe. Port Ryerse is a 10 minute drive west of Port Dover or a 15 minute drive south of Simcoe. Tiny Young's Creek is still one of the best fishing spots in  Norfolk County.

Home Sweet Home

Port Ryerse Beach

Memorial Church

Historical Plaque