- For other places with the same name, see Port Hope (disambiguation).
Downtown Port Hope is well known as a shopping destination for antiques and other specialty items and is widely regarded as one of the best-preserved main streets in Ontario.
Besides Port Hope, other communities within the municipality include: Campbellcroft, Canton, Dale, Davidson's Corners, Decker Hollow (ghost town), Elizabethville, Garden Hill, Knoxville, Morrish, Osaca, Perrytown, Port Britain, Rossmount, Thomstown, Welcome, Wesleyville (ghost town) and Zion.
The First Nations (Indigenous) people of the region called the area "Ganaraska", and it is what they called the river that flows through the town. The name originates from Ganaraske, the first Cayuga village at the current townsite. The Cayuga, part of the Iroquois Confederacy, had migrated there from New York in 1779, after suffering extensive damage as British allies at their homeland in New York state during the American Revolution.
In 1793, United Empire Loyalists became the first permanent settlers of European heritage in Port Hope, which they called Smith's Creek after a former fur trader. Mills and a town plot were developing by the turn of the century. After the War of 1812, more British settlers were wanted, and a better name was required. After a brief fling with the name Toronto, the village was renamed in 1817 as Port Hope, after the Township of Hope of which it was a part, which in turn had been named for Colonel Henry Hope, lieutenant governor of the Province of Quebec.
Relatively slow growth from 1881 to 1951 resulted in much of the town's original architecture not being demolished in the name of progress. Port Hope's downtown is celebrated now as the best-preserved 19th-century streetscape in Ontario. With over 270 heritage-designated buildings throughout the municipality, Port Hope has a higher per capita rate of preservation than any other town or city in Canada.
Port Hope is known for having the most low-level radioactive wastes in Canada. These wastes were created by Eldorado Mining and Refining Limited and its private sector predecessors, as a result of the refining process used to extract radium from uranium ore.
In 2002, a large amount of contaminated soil was removed from beachfront areas. Well over a billion dollars is expected to be spent on the soil remediation project, the largest such cleanup in Canadian history. The effort is projected to be complete in 2022.
- Highway 401, exit 464 is the main highway access point to Port Hope. It is about 100 km east of downtown Toronto and 85 km west of Belleville.
- 1 Via Rail Port Hope, Hayward St (at Choate St). Weekday train service at Port Hope Station is essentially rush hour only - oriented to commuters - with one train to Toronto early in the morning and two trains returning in the early evening. However, on weekends and holidays, the train to Toronto leaves in the early afternoon instead of early morning and only one train returns to Port Hope in the evening.
- 3 Via Rail Cobourg, 563 Division St, Cobourg (12km (7mi) east of Port Hope Station), ☏ . Cobourg Station has more frequent train service than Port Hope Station.
Most of the places of interest are with downtown Port Hope or within walking distance of it. A few sites may need a car.
Port Hope Transit provides local bus services.
- 1 Canadian Fire Fighters Museum, 95 Mill St S (Take Exit #464 off Hwy 401, go south and follow the signs to the museum), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Late May to mid-Oct: daily 10AM-4PM. Donation.
- 2 Capitol Theatre, 20 Queen St, ☏ . An old movie theatre that now hosts plays and concerts. It's architecturally unique as one of the last "atmospheric" theatres in Canada. The walls and ceiling are painted to give the effect that the audience is sitting outside in a medieval courtyard. The lobby also retains the Art Deco elements that were popular when the theatre was built. Reviewers indicate the sight lines are good and there isn't a bad seat in the theatre.
Port Hope has over 200 buildings with a heritage designation. Fifty of them are concentrated between 1 to 201 Walton Street in the downtown area with a few more on several intersecting streets. The following is a sampling of addition heritage buildings located away from Walton Street. Few would be open to the public but all are visible from a public sidewalk.
- 3 Port Hope Town Hall, 56 Queen St. Built 1851-53, this classic-looking town hall has a clock in the cupola on the roof.
- 4 Former Midland Hotel, 33 John St. This brightly coloured, former hotel was built circa 1855 to serve the passengers of the now defunct Midland Railway. The centre door area used to be carriageway.
- 5 Former YMCA building, 50 John St. Built circa 1874, this former institutional building has a somewhat church-like appearance.
- 6 The Bank of Upper Canada, 86 John St. Built circa 1857, this former bank building is almost square and is an example of Italianate architecture.
- 7 The Little Station, 10 Hayward St (east of John St at the harbour). This small station building was built circa 1855 for a whistle stop along the former Port Hope, Lindsay and Beaverton Railway. It was moved from its original location. It is not the same as today's Via Rail station, located at the western end of Hayward Street, which is also a heritage building.
- 8 Three Victorian houses, 36, 39 & 41 South St (just west of Port Hope United Church). Private residences. Three attractive Victorian houses at 36, 39 & 41 South St were built in 1875, 1880 and 1880 respectively.
King Street (east of the Ganaraska River) is a quiet residential street with about a dozen heritage houses including the following:
- 10 Charles Clemes duplex house, 57-59 King St. Private residence. This duplex house built circa 1876 in the second empire style has two symetrical, 2-storey bay windows.
- 11 Elias Smith house (Canada House), 168 King St. Private residence. Built as an inn circa 1800, it features a second-floor veranda over a sunroom facing the lake.
Near the downtown area are a few old churches built between 1855 and 1906.
- 12 Our Lady of Mercy Church, 155 Walton St, ☏ . This narrow brick church was built in 1855. The sanctuary, the choir loft and two spires were added in 1869.
- 13 First Baptist Church, 57 John St, ☏ . This Gothic-style, buff-brick, gable-roofed church was built in 1867. The copper spire roof was last replaced in 1964.
- 14 St. John's Anglican Church, 33 Pine St N, ☏ . Completed in 1869, this church is in the gothic revival style with stained glass windows made in England.
- 15 Port Hope United Church, 34 South St (at Brown St), ☏ . The church was dedicated in 1875 by Methodists who joined in 1925 with Unionist Presbyterians to form the United Church.
- 16 St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, 131 Walton St, ☏ . Completed in 1906, the church is in Richardsonian Romanesque Revival Style with two square towers of different height and arced recess entrances.
- Take a walk around downtown Port Hope. It isn't big and it is considered to be one of the best preserved 19th century streetscapes in Ontario.
- Three 18-hole golf courses are in this area.
- Ash Brook Golf Club, ☏ .
- Dalewood Golf & Curling Club, ☏ .
- Port Hope Golf & Country Club, ☏ .
- 1 Dreamers Café, 2 Queen St (corner of Walton & Queen), ☏ . M-Sa 7AM-5PM, Su 8AM-5PM. Little café with a small lunch menu, some very rich desserts and a fairly usual mix of hot and cold drinks. The main entrance is a bit dark, but the side room is brighter and shows off some of the Victorian styling of the building. The most notable dishes are the lobster bisque and the Crazy Cookie - a sweet mix of cookie, chocolate and caramel -- it's quite popular although a little too sweet for some. Lunch items $7-10.
- 2 Trattoria Gusto, 1 Walton St, ☏ .
- Cobourg is a ten minute drive east of Port Hope along Lake Ontario.
- Peterborough is a 30-40 minute drive north on County Road 28 (Ontario St).
|Routes through Port Hope|
|Toronto ← Oshawa ←||W E||→ Cobourg → Kingston|
|Toronto ← Newcastle ←||W E||→ Cobourg → Kingston|
|Peterborough ← CR 28 ←||N S||→ END|