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lakeside park

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Lakeside Park and Beach

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Since the early 1920's Lakeside Park on Lake Ontario in Port Dalhousie has attracted throngs of visitors every year. Originally the park was owned by The Canadian National Steamship Company. Several boats were purchased in order to transport people from Toronto to Port Dalhousie. The SS. Dalhousie City was specially built in Collingwood, Ontario and used as a ferry for passenger traffic crossing Lake Ontario.

Throngs of sunbathers and picnicers would descend on Lakeside Park from May until Labour Day. The SS. Dalhousie City alone carried over 1,000 passengers from Toronto and at one point there were several ferries making daily trips across the lake. Those that could not find accommodation would pitch a tent wherever they could.

A large 24 ft. wooden slide was situated several feet from shore, as well as a midway, complete with the antique carousel we see today. If you walk along the walkway in the park that runs parallel to the lake and look closely you can still see remnants of the cobblestone walkway that made up the midway.

A Dance Hall kept visitors entertained until the early hours. The big band era was sweeping the continent and places like Crystal Beach on Lake Erie and Lakeside Park on Lake Ontario, with their ornate ballrooms were the pinnacle of night life in the twenties and thirties.

In 1930 the park was sold and operated under private ownership for the next 20 years. The park continued to thrive well into the 1940's when more and more visitors arrived by car. Company parties would be held at the park as well as church picnics.

A rail line also connected Port Dalhousie with the City of St. Catharines and visitors from all around the area arrived by trolley. As many as 6,000 - 8,000 people would visit the park in one day during the summer.

Lakeside Park still remains a favourite destination for locals and non-locals alike. The original Looff Carousel is still operating in the park and admission to the ride is still 5 cents. Ice cream parlours and restaurants cater to hungry patrons and the taverns still line the streets just as they did in the 1820s.

From the Port Dalhousie Pier you can see the roof of the Looff Carousel and beach at Lakeside Park.