Incredible Port Credit

Port Credit by the Numbers

GPS
Harbor entrance: 43°32'47.54"N 79°34'39.26"W
Fuel dock: 43°33'5.96"N 79°34'56.12”W
Public launch ramp: 43°32'59.99"N 79°35'8.43"W

Nautical Charts
NOAA 14810, Olcott, NY to Toronto, ON (1:100,000 scale)
Canadian Hydrographic Service 2048 (1:5,000 scale)
Canadian Hydrographic Service 2086 (Toronto to Hamilton, 1:50,000 scale)

Getting Through Customs
Port Credit is a recognized Canadian Port of Entry, and a videophone for Customs clearance is located at Credit Village Marina.
U.S. residents also can report in advance to the Canada Border Services Agency by calling 888-226-7277 from between 30 minutes and 4 hours prior to arrival. If you and everyone aboard have NEXUS cards, you can call 866-996-3987. — C.R.

The Ridgetown

The grounded lake freighter Ridgetown that forms Port Credit’s breakwall is one of the oldest surviving lakers in existence.
Built by the Chicago Shipbuilding Co. at a cost of $475,000, the vessel was launched June 24, 1905 as the William E. Corey, the first flagship for the Cleveland-based Pittsburgh Steamship Co. On November 28 that year, the ship grounded on Gull Island Reef in western Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands during an intense November storm that wrecked 30 other ships and killed 78 mariners. After taking a terrible beating from three days of 80-mph winds, the Corey was pulled free of the rocks following a $100,000 salvage effort that involved no less than 158 men, four ships and two tugs. Thankfully, that proved the only serious incident in its long career.

In 1960, the vessel was sold to Upper Lakes Shipping in Toronto and renamed Ridgetown. It served its new owners for 10 more years before being sunk at Nanticoke in 1970 as a temporary breakwall during construction of the power generating plant there. Following completion of the hydro station, Ridgetown was refloated, loaded with stone, moved to Port Credit, and sunk again on June 21, 1974 as a permanent breakwater. It has since become an iconic fixture, much loved by local boaters. — C.R.

Resources

  • Port Credit Harbour Marina Full-service marina able to accommodate boats up to 50 feet long. Facilities include a launch ramp, power and water on docks, laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi. 905-274-1595
  • Credit Village Marina Municipal marina that offers 63 transient slips for boats up to 60 feet. Facilities include power and water on docks, washrooms with showers, laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi. 905-615-4880 mississauga.ca/portal/residents/marinas
  • Bristol Marine Offers marine repairs to fiberglass hulls, gas and diesel engines, electrical systems, HVAC, and rigging. Bristol also operates the harbor’s fuel dock, with both gas and diesel as well as pump-out service. 905-891-3777 bristolmarine.ca
  • Shortwave Marine Located on Lakeshore Road east of the harbor, Shortwave sells and services electronic equipment and fishing tackle 905-278-6541
  • Nautical Mind Bookstore Your source for marine charts, nautical books, cruising guides, and more. Serving boaters around the world from its waterfront shop in downtown Toronto. 416-203-1163; 800-463-9951 nauticalmind.com
  • Fogh Boat Supplies Facing Port Street at the north end of the Port Credit Harbour building, Fogh Boat Supplies is a fully equipped chandlery with more than 6,000 different items in stock. 905-278-7005; 800-263-1506 thestoremasons.com

Incredible Port Credit

by Craig Ritchie
01-Feb-2015
With great restaurants, amenities and more, Ontario’s salmon capital is a top boating destination — and just an hour west of Toronto

All over the world, hidden gems await discovery, often camouflaged in plain sight by their proximity to something larger and glitzier. And for decades, so it was for Port Credit, Ontario — a quiet and peaceful community on the north shore of Lake Ontario. While nearby Toronto stole the limelight, Port Credit remained a private boating paradise enjoyed only by locals in the know.

Then came the salmon derby, and the secret was out. Now, little Port Credit is far better known in some boating circles than its neighboring metropolis.

The Village of Port Credit — part of the City of Mississauga, which forms Toronto’s western border — takes its curious name from history. In the 1700s, the marshy river mouth was a meeting place, where the Mississauga Ojibwe band would trade with the British and French, often on credit. The tiny settlement that sprang up became known as Port Credit, and the river feeding its harbor became the Credit River. By 1757, the tiny village was on the map — literally — when it debuted on a navigation chart drawn by La Broquerie.

Through the 20th Century Port Credit’s serene harbor, affordable lakefront property and glorious views saw the tiny village grow to become a popular suburb. Linked to downtown Toronto by a three-lane highway and efficient commuter train system, Port Credit allowed its residents easy access to all of the big city’s charms, yet remained just distant enough to provide a bona-fide escape from big city life. In spite of subsequent urban sprawl and infilling, to this day the village retains a proud sense of independence. It is still very much the small, lakefront settlement, and that’s a key reason to visit.

For a boater, Port Credit is an easy way to get a taste of life on the northern side of the Great Lakes. Outstanding harbor facilities offer visiting boaters every imaginable amenity and convenience, and lie within easy walking distance of all the village’s attractions. They’re also only three blocks from the GO train (an acronym which stands for “Government of Ontario”), making Port Credit a viable alternative for boaters wishing to visit Toronto, but without the added stress of having to navigate one of Canada’s major commercial sea ports.

If you’re looking for charts, you’ll want to contact Nautical Mind in Toronto, nauticalmind.com. This independently owned nautical book store has been serving customers worldwide with marine charts, cruising guides, books, DVDs, nautical software, and more for more than 30 years.

A destination made for boaters

Approaching Port Credit from the water, the first major landmark you’re going to encounter is the grounded 1905 freighter Ridgetown, which forms a breakwater on the harbor’s south side. Just behind it lies Port Credit Harbour Marina — not only the largest marine facility in Port Credit, but the biggest marina on Lake Ontario, with more than 800 slips. It’s also deep, with at least 18 feet of water at almost all of the slips.

The entry channel to the marina lies between Ridgetown’s bow (with its quick, flashing red light), and a shoreline pier with an extended stone breakwater (capped with a flashing green light and a green day beacon). There’s also a flashing light marking the freighter’s stern, but it’s not possible to enter the harbor from that end.

As you approach from the lake, you’ll also see the flashing white light from a replica lighthouse on the west bank of the Credit River, located a short distance upstream from Ridgetown. While this light — visible up to 12 miles offshore — might help you spot Port Credit in poor visibility conditions, it does not mark the harbor entrance and should not be followed. Rather, as you pass Ridgetown’s bow into port, you can either turn east into Port Credit Harbour Marina, or take the buoyed channel that closely follows the curved cement pier extending from the east shore to reach the main harbor. The channel here is not terribly wide, and you’ll want to stay in it in order to avoid hanging up on multiple sandbars located all along the western side of the river. Happily, both the entrance channel and harbor basin are dredged regularly, so you’ll normally find depths of about 10 feet in summer, dropping to roughly 7 feet by early fall.

Credit Village Marina, located on the east bank of the Credit River just beyond the base of the pier, offers primarily transient docking with 63 slips that can be rented by the hour, day or week. The simplest way to reserve a slip is to call ahead on VHF 68, or just pull into any empty slip on arrival. The marina can accommodate boats up to 60 feet long at its 30- to 40-foot-long floating docks. Right next door, the privately owned Snug Harbour Seafood Bar and Grill offers additional short-term docking options.

For trailer boaters, excellent public launch ramps are located on the west bank of the river, directly opposite Credit Village Marina. That’s also where you’ll find several charter fishing boats, a fish cleaning station, and the weigh scales for the annual summer salmon derby.

Ontario’s salmon capital

Ontario’s self-proclaimed salmon capital, Port Credit is a hub of activity from June through September. Most of this activity is focused around the Great Ontario Salmon Derby, a six-week extravaganza that can trace its roots back to the early 1970s. When the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources first introduced Coho salmon to Lake Ontario in 1968, anglers had no idea how to catch them, and the derby was created as a vehicle to help develop a viable sport fishery. It worked like magic; limit catches soon became commonplace, and within a few years, a new world record Coho was caught in Lake Ontario — much to the chagrin of anglers on the Pacific coast.

Today, trophy Chinook (or king) salmon make up the bulk of the catch, and the rule of thumb is that you’ll need at least a 30-pounder in order to win any of the derby prizes (which include trucks, boats and fishing vacations). Anglers here also tangle with trophy rainbow trout and brown trout that frequently nudge — or top — the 20-pound mark. The Credit River hosts one of the largest populations of wild rainbow trout on the Great Lakes, and these hard-fighting fish form a major pillar of the summer boat fishery.

Festivals galore

If fishing isn’t quite your cup of tea, then you’ll be pleased to learn that Port Credit has much more to offer, including a full calendar of festivals and events.

Visit in early May and you’ll be right in time for the annual Mississauga Marathon, which runs straight through Port Credit — figuratively and literally. One of Canada’s premiere road races and a major qualifying event for the Boston Marathon, the Mississauga Marathon usually attracts in excess of 25,000 runners, who compete in a variety of races over the weekend — all of which pass through the harbor close to the finish line, and boaters turn out in numbers to cheer the runners on.

This portion of the marathon route follows what is locally known as the Waterfront Trail, which offers miles of continuous walking, cycling and in-line skating along the Lake Ontario shoreline. It’s part of the larger Waterfront Trail System that extends from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border.

If you’d rather pack calories on than burn them off, a short walk east of the harbor along Lakeshore Road will take you to the Port Credit Farmer’s Market, held on Saturday mornings from June 6-October 10. Apart from being a great place to restock the galley with a variety of fresh produce, cheese, pastries and meats, the market offers live music and a great excuse for a stroll through town.

Should you find yourself in Port Credit in mid-June, you’ll be right on time for the Mississauga Waterfront Festival (2015 dates are June 12-14). This fun family weekend offers a number of free concerts, cook-offs, games, arts and crafts, laser shows, and even a petting zoo for the kids. The Waterfront Festival has been a Port Credit institution since 1998, attracting more than 50,000 people every summer. Best of all, each year the organizers donate a big chunk of the proceeds in support of local charities.

On Canada Day each year (July 1), Port Credit celebrates with its Paint The Town Red celebration, including a parade and fireworks display. All through July and into the first weekend in August, the Sunset Concert Series presents live music by the water at Port Credit Memorial Park on Sunday evenings from 6:30 p.m. until sunset.

Credit Village Marina hosts an annual art show in mid-July, while the annual Port Credit Busker Fest — celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2015 — is scheduled for August 21-23. Perhaps one of the most unique summer festivals anywhere on the Great Lakes, with jugglers, sword swallowers and every imaginable type of street entertainment, the three-day Busker Fest presents more than 40 professional buskers, four spectacular fire shows, and an “Xtreme Finale” held on the final day, with every busker performing simultaneously in one, big show. It’s all free, but the performers appreciate any tips they receive.

Should you find yourself in port from September 11-13, you’ll be well entertained, as the South Side Shuffle Blues and Jazz Festival presents live acts on the streets, in clubs and on the main stage in Port Credit’s Memorial Park, just steps from the marina.

Shop and dine

If you like to shop, you’ll find a wide variety of interesting stores in town, mainly located along Lakeshore Road within a few blocks of the harbor. Forget big box retail — this is where you find charming small boutiques with truly unique offerings.

If you’re shopping for a new boat, the marina building at Port Credit Harbour Marina houses numerous yacht brokers and boat dealers, while two boat shows — the Spring Boat Show, held from May 29-31, and the Port Credit In-Water Boat Show, held from September 18-20 — present a wide range of new and brokerage boats, plus a vast range of accessories right in the harbor.

The other great shopping in Port Credit is of the culinary kind. If you like to eat, you’ve definitely come to the right place, as Port Credit offers a wide selection of restaurants within easy walking distance of the harbor, from fast food to pub grub to fine dining and chic wine bars. As locals like to say, just take a walk along Lakeshore Road and follow your nose until you find what you like.

The wide range of dining options simply reflects Port Credit’s multi-faceted personality. Sometimes elegant, sometimes quirky, but always a great time.
Looking for something new this summer? Point your bow to Port Credit, and be prepared to be enchanted by a friendly, clean, safe and vibrant lakeshore community that really knows how to make the most of summer.

McGard
Paul Gauguin Cruises