Central Elgin Heritage Attractions

The Central portion of Elgin County includes the Municipality of Central Elgin and the Township of Southwold. The southern portion of Central Elgin, particularly around the Village of Sparta, was settled by Quakers in the early 19th century. The 1865 Quaker Meeting House is still in use today. Port Stanley became Elgin County’s major shipping port beginning in the 1830s and a well-traveled road was built between Port Stanley and London. The London & Port Stanley Railway was constructed to carry passengers and freight between Port Stanley and London. By the turn of the century, the Port was also a major London resort. Eventually known as the Coney Island of Canada, Port Stanley attracted thousands of visitors each weekend to sunbathe on the shores of Lake Erie and dance the night away at the famous Stork Club Dance Hall. Other communities developed in Central Elgin including New Sarum, Union and Belmont, which was incorporated as a village in 1961.

The neighbouring Township of Southwold is home to the Southwold Earthworks, the site of a village occupied by 800 to 900 Attawandarons for approximately 20 years in the early 16th century. The early communities of Fingal and Iona were built on the original Talbot Road. In the 1870s other communities such as Shedden and Iona Station appeared on the Canada Southern Railway Line. Elgin County Administrative Building and Gunnery School located outside Fingal was in operation from November 1940 to February 1945. This unit was one of 105 Canadian and British Air Schools that were a part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada.