Port Hope as a summer resort

The following letter was published in the 14 Feb 1896 Port Hope Weekly Guide. A concept of Port Hope from a somewhat rambling ex-Port Hoper's point of view, complete with racial slurs. The author, Willis Powers, born in Minnesota, December 1857, was the son of Edward Allen & Merinda (Caldwell), and is listed in the 1881 Port Hope census as a veterinary surgeon. The family emigrated to Canada from the US c1860. He and his wife of six years, Lillian E., are found in the 1900 Fairfield, Connecticut, census returns.


RIDGEFIELD, Conn., Feb. 2, 1896.

To the Editor of the Guide.
DEAR SIR.—I must say that I was exceedingly well pleased to see the stand you take in the Weekly GUIDE of Jan. 31st, in regard to "Lake Side Park." It has been a mystery to me for sometime past that the good wide-awake citizens of Port Hope have not discovered what a pretty and attractive Summer Resort their town could be made into; consisting as it does of nice rolling high lands, made up of hill and dale, beautiful roads, picturesque drives, elegant foliage, its beautiful woods made up of all kinds of trees, particularly the old "broad-leaved maples" of school boy days, its pure air, and still more on account of it being very accessible from the American shore; its close proximity to your larger Canadian cities, east, west and north, all tend in time (and short at that) to make it one, if not the best Summer Resort on the north shore of Lake Ontario; and another thing which is a particular essential in all Summer Resorts - the make up of the resident people is a very important factor in all resorts of society people. It is a well known fact that the citizwns of Port Hope are known far and wide as a hospitable class of people, and are famous for making visitors at home and trying to make it pleasant for all in their lovely town.

Another thing to be considered in establishing a Summer Resort--the best effort should be made to get the most refined people to visit your shores, as sometimes grave mistakes are made in making inducements to the middle classes to visit your resorts. Here I draw the line at Jews and those other three for a cent class of people who deteriorate summer colonies instead of building them up. I only speak for the best interests of good old Port Hope, loving it as I do, it being the home of my parents and many friends, as also the scene of my boyhood's happy days, and best of all my pleasant school boy days; (this however has got nothing to do with your town as a Summer Resort.)

In speaking of Summer Resorts, I feel that I can talk a little from experience, as I, living in a summer colony for the past twelve years, have had ample opportunity to make a few observations. In the first place, Ridgefield is known as the "Lenox of Connecticut," from the number of fashionable and wealthy people who mingle here every season from the 1st of May until the middle of November. We have here every summer at least 1500 people added to our regular population. This, of course, includes heads of families and servants of all kinds. A majority of these people own their own cottages, while others rent for the season (four months). Our largest cottages here rent for $2,000, $1,800 and $1,500, and smaller ones all the way down to $400. This, of course, means furnished cottages with garden lawn, etc. Of course we have a large number of fashionable boarding houses besides, where you can obtain good service all the way from $15 to $25 per week, and this place is inferior to Port Hope in several respects; it has no water attraction, only a few small lakes three or four miles out. We are 16 miles north of Long Island Sound, 60 miles from New York inland, and 900 feet above the level of the sea. In consequence of our great height, you can readily assume that the air will be very pure and healthy, and what a heavenly boon to the Wall street merchant and others, who commute out every evening, after being roasted in those sultry days in July and August in their close quartered offices in Gotham.

You can readily see what a help these metropolitan people are to a town which has attractions for them. Every class of merchant or mercantile business is aided by them. They must have groceries and provisions of all kinds, vegetables, fish, fruit, and must have teams to ride out in for themselves and families, etc. I venture to assert that $150,000 is spent and left here each season by our summer colonists, and it is in this connection that I have given a few facts as mentioned above, to show that Port Hope could be made by judicious advertising and the free use of a little money and the harmonious invitations of your people, in a short time the most attractive Summer Resort on Lake Ontario, and I feel that I am not putting it out of the way when I say north of Saratoga.

I will now give you in a few lines the advantages that Port Hope possesses over the majority of American Summer Resorts:
First, it has a lovely lake of pure water, a nice beach suitable for summer bathing, its railway and steamboat accommodations, the cheapness of provisions, meats and lumber as compared with our places, its beautiful sailing, boating and fishing, its hospitable people, its magnificent churches and educational advantages, its beautiful hills and dales, its model homes, its moral standing, etc., all tend to give it advantages as a Summer Resort that many other large towns cannot cope with in any particulars. Trusting, Mr. Editor, that I have not infringed too much with your valuable space, and hoping to see at an early date my old town a "Gay Summer Resort," I have the honor to be yours, with best wishes.


Peter and Barbara Bolton - Port Hope, Ontario