In 1971, Iroquois Beach Provincial Park was created by the Department of Lands and Forests with an initial land purchase of 221 acres. The park had already been a popular spot for many previous generations and has since more than tripled in size to 672 acres.
Over the years, over 40 000 trees have been planted to create a diverse woodlot, rich in Carolinian species. In 1986, Iroquois Beach was officially renamed Port Burwell Provincial Park and has maintained its reputation as a favourite summer vacation and recreation destination and is continually evolving to meet the needs of the over 115 000 campers and day use visitors it welcomes every season. Natural Heritage programs are popular every summer.
As we look further back throughout the park’s history we come across a man named Colonel Mahlon Burwell, who was originally deeded a portion of the park in 1811. Colonel Burwell was partly responsible for turning the harbour into a viable port that lead to the settlement of this area. The second half of the century saw Port Burwell become recognized as a popular vacation area. Soon doctors, wealthy business men and lawyers were building themselves summer homes on the bluffs above the lake. In 1875, Erie Lodge was erected by Daniel Freeman, a shipbuilder and lawyer, on what is now known as the group camping area to the west of the park administration building. The lodge also served as a rectory, girls school and a summer hotel before it burned down in the 1890’s. The Iroquois Hotel was then built in the same location in 1899. Following its formation was a bandstand, dance hall, concession stand and a taffy booth. The beach soon became a major focus of the area and subsequently, the dance hall was relocated there.
Located along the sandy shores of Lake Erie, Port Burwell Provincial Park provides an excellent birding site throughout the year. The lake provides a barrier to birds during their migration route, concentrating the flow and moving the birds along the Lake Erie shoreline. During the spring months, birders come to view the songbirds returning for the summer. In the fall come witness the spectacular migration of raptors, monarch butterflies, blue jays and dragonflies.
The quilt block, “Hovering Hawks” honours the magnificence of the raptors over the Lake.