Silver Lake had its beginnings when the first dam was constructed in 1856 by Andrew Thompson to support Norfolk Woollen Mill in Port Dover. The Lake was created by building what we now call Misner dam on the south end of the Lake below Ivey’s Dam (which itself is designated as a heritage site). A significant part of Port Dover’s history has been linked to Silver Lake. The Lake has been broadly described as one of Norfolk County’s hidden crown jewels. The wetland at the upper end of the lake has provided a habitat for great blue heron and green herons, native fish, turtles
and other aquatic animals and birds. Generations of residents have fond memories of fishing (sun fish, large mouth bass, silver/white bass and carp), canoeing, swimming, snowshoeing, skiing and ice hockey on the lake. At one point in our history, the lake provided the ice for local families’ ice boxes!
To illustrate the extent to which the Lake has been a part of community culture, when Ivey’s Greenhouses closed in 1992, the Port Dover Lion’s Club purchased the land around the Lake to develop trails, picnic areas and sitting areas for lakefront viewing. They retained a consultant to advise on the project layout define the Master Plan. It was recommended that restoration focus on Carolinian tree species; the landscape architect drew diagrams and prepared lists to indicate the possibilities. Since this time, a soccer field has been developed on the land south of the previous greenhouse area. The berms at the sides were planted with approximately 2000 Carolinian trees (ash, honey-suckle, Kentucky coffee, dogwood, maple, cedar and oak trees) by the Lynn Valley District Scouts, Cubs and Beavers. (This tree planting continues as an ongoing process). The remaining portion of the north greenhouse area has been seeded with common grass seed, with native grasses and plants in strategic areas. Duck boxes have been placed around the property. A road network has been laid. The whole community has made considerable investment in this public site both in financial support and hands on work. When the site was initially being cleaned up, local residents turned out in droves on Saturdays. Tens of thousands of roses had to be pulled out by the roots and burned to honour the green house license requirements for disposing of hybrid breeding stock.. Approximately 150 people each week worked on the project and sported the scratches to prove it when they gathered in the local churches on Sunday mornings.
Community residents have given generously to support park development. Businesses and individuals have purchased memorial benches that are set up around the lake for visitor viewing pleasure. Scotia Bank bought 20 benches but asked to have only one inscribed so that the remaining 19 could be sold again! This is certainly a community that has vision and that unites together to invest in its future.
Master plans for the park can be viewed by contacting Port Dover Lions Club. The park development is still in process. The plan includes a boardwalk over the wetland area with interpretative signage for educational groups, interested residents and visitors. Most recently the new pavilion has been added to provide a stage for concerts and other outdoor events. It hosted its first weddings in the summer of 2011. Although many features of the plan remain to be completed, the park hosts more than 65,000 visitors annually.