Written history dealing with the early years of Port Stanley is sparse, but postcards have proved an invaluable record of what life used to be like in our then little village.
This photograph is on page 276 of the Heritage Port Stanley book entitled, Port Stanley’s Pictorial Postcards, Volume One, 1906-1925, by Craig Cole and comes from the collection of the late Sam Vary.
This photo gives us an interesting insight into what the eastern end of Orchard Beach looked like roughly 100 years ago. The postmark on the postcard is blurred but may be 1914. The amount of land which has been eaten up by the ravages of erosion during these 100 or so years may surprise some of our viewers. The dirt track on the left side of the photograph is now Harrison Place. Many people will remember when this street was called Victoria Street.
When the village of Port Stanley was subsumed into the Municipality of Central Elgin there were several Victoria streets in the new municipality. Because of the confusion that this might have caused emergency responders, some of the streets had to be renamed. Most of the land shown in this photograph had once been an apple and pear orchard owned by Mrs. Harrison. Hence the name Orchard Beach, and it seemed appropriate to rename Victoria Street as Harrison Place.
The band of trees in the centre of the photograph would have bordered Little Creek. The large white cottage, the most prominent dwelling in this photograph, still exists today. It has been moved north several times in the last 100 years to escape the northward movement of the lake and now fronts on Harrison Place.
Just to the east of it in the photograph, and a little bit nearer the lake is a cottage once owned by my maternal grandfather, William Ford Darch. An article in the London Free Press written 60 years ago claims that this was the site of Port Stanley’s first summer cottage, built in 1883 by two clergymen brothers. The property was subsequently purchased by the Darch family in 1907. The Darches owned a large harness business on Talbot Street in London, just west of Covent Garden market, which at six stories, was once London’s highest “skyscraper.” The Darches also donated part of the land for the London market.
Other posts by Craig Cole.