Friday, 22 August 2014

Sport it Port - Keeping Port Stanley Active

Sport in Port began as a community organization and local running group in Port Stanley. In 2011 the group began to host events such as “Sport on the Water” a triathlon designed to bring athletes into Port Stanley. When the group’s founder Eric Salin left the corporate world in March of 2013 he decided to pursue his passion for active living by transforming Sport in Port into a business. Salin sought the expertise and support of the Ontario Self-Employment Benefits Program offered through the Elgin Business Resource Centre and was able to open Sport in Port at 204 Carlow Rd. Port Stanley in November 2013 and an additional location in Bayfield in 2014.

The Port Stanley store, located at the cross roads of four cycling trails, aims to outfit area visitors and residents with the accessories they need to stay active. The store differentiates itself from other sports outfitters by carrying unique products and apparel that can't be purchased anywhere else locally. Salin puts a great deal of effort into researching the products he carries in his store. From replacement equipment for cyclists to running gear to cottage accessories, everything in the store is tested and proven to be high quality and suited for activities in the Port Stanley area. A particularly unique and extremely popular product is the Cocoon Hammock, a tent like hammock that hangs either from a tree or on a frame and is a great place to relax on a hot summer day.

In addition to unique retail products, Sport in Port also provides several services including bike repair, running shoe fittings, coaching services, information about area trails and bike routes and equipment rentals. Salin believes that rental is a powerful way to make sport accessible for everyone. Expensive gear and limited storage space are barriers that people must overcome when trying a new sport – rentals take away this risk allowing for a low cost trial of the activity. 
This summer, for the first time, Sport in Port will be offering kayaks and stand up paddle board rentals right on the main beach in Port Stanley. These equipment rentals have been greatly anticipated and fill a long standing void in the area. Visitors to the area can also make rental reservations in advance online at

Sport and Port is not only a retail location, but an activity driver as well. The store is host to weekly running, hiking and cycling groups; frequent charity runs; and Red Cross CPR and first-aid training courses.

Salin believes that Elgin County and Port Stanley in particular, is the perfect place for his business to thrive promoting relaxation, interaction with the natural environment and healthy living.

"You can swim, run and bike here," says Salin. "Port Stanley has some of the most beautiful terrain for running and cycling and the open water swimming is great too!"

Monday, 11 August 2014

Historic Sparta - Step into the Past

Step into the past and absorb the atmosphere of Sparta, ON a village where time has stood still. Nestled in the heart of Central Elgin, this quaint historic village is one of Canada’s oldest Quaker settlements.  The village offers visitors an unspoiled glimpse of early Ontario architecture boasting many buildings dating back to the 1840s. 

The village was established in 1813 by Jonathan Doan, a Quaker who was seeking a safe settlement for himself and his family. He had originally fled the United States during the American Revolution and settled in the Niagara Region. When the Americans began to attack Niagara during the War of 1812, Doan feared losing his property.  He found Sparta to his liking and purchased 100 acres of land encouraging more Quakers to settle in the area and opening a grist mill, a saw mill and a tannery in the community.  Sparta grew and by the 1870s was a village of close to 1,500.

Today Sparta includes the studios of several artists, a traditional tearoom, hand-made artisan candles, boutique shopping, a nearby lavender farm, a local vineyard and several locations of historical importance.

Sparta Country Candles

Ye Old Forge and Anvil Museum was built in 1827 and now houses the Sparta and District Historical Society’s museum of local artifacts. This Cob building, constructed with clay and straw, was originally a blacksmith’s shop. Learn about pioneer skills as you watch weavers, spinners and others demonstrate their knowledge and skills. 

Interior of Ye Olde Forge and Anvil Museum

Sparta’s newest museum, the Sparta Church Museum and Cultural Centre, presents a series of changing exhibits from April to October. It also features special events throughout the year and is available for weddings and special celebrations. 

Sparta Church Museum

The Quaker Meeting House was the third meeting house built in 1865 in the village of Sparta. The first two were built at the Quaker Cemetery, but this colonial style meeting house was built on the current site as many Quakers began settling north of the village. Enjoy a walk through the peaceful grounds of this historic location, still in operation today on land originally donated by Jonathan Doan himself.

For more information about historic Sparta and other historical attractions in Elgin County visit