Norfolk County, Ontario

City (single-tier)
Norfolk County

Lighthouse and docks in Port Rowan.
Motto: History · Heritage · Diversity
Coordinates: 42°51′N 80°16′W / 42.850°N 80.267°W / 42.850; -80.267Coordinates: 42°51′N 80°16′W / 42.850°N 80.267°W / 42.850; -80.267
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
Established 1792 (County)
Restructured 1974 (Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk)
Amalgamated 2001 (Single-tier municipality)
  Mayor Charlie Luke
  Governing Body The Council of The Corporation of Norfolk County
  MPs Diane Finley (Con)
  MPPs Toby Barrett (PC)
  Land 1,607.60 km2 (620.70 sq mi)
Elevation 200 m (700 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
  Total 63,175
  Density 39.3/km2 (102/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
  Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Postal code span N0A, N0E, N3Y, N4B
Area code(s) 519 and 226

Norfolk County /ˈnɔːrfk/ is a rural single-tier municipality on the north shore of Lake Erie in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.


Surrounding its many small communities is some of the most fertile land in Ontario. With a mild climate and lengthy growing season, the region has long been the centre of the Ontario tobacco belt. However, many farmers have begun the process of diversifying their crop selections to include lavender, ginseng, hazelnuts, and wolfberries[2] as tobacco consumption continues to decrease.

Dennis' Horseradish is considered to be one of the longest lasting non-tobacco farming businesses in Norfolk County; currently being operated by the Jason Ryder family and operating five minutes south of Delhi and five minutes east of Lynedoch.[3][4] The area also has an active greenhouse industry. Despite this, farmers have asked governments to reduce the financial losses of moving away from profitable tobacco operations.

A significant natural feature of Norfolk is Long Point, a 40 kilometre (25 mi) spit of land projecting into Lake Erie. It plays an important part in eastern North American bird migration, and was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1986. Long Point Provincial Park is located on the point. More than 25% of Norfolk County is considered to be forested; especially near the major communities and hamlets that dot the county.[5]

The county seat and largest community is Simcoe. Other population centres are Port Dover, Delhi and Waterford.


Norfolk's history has been closely associated with that of the neighbouring Haldimand County. Norfolk was first created as a county in 1792. In 1800, Haldimand was formed from a portion of Norfolk. The two counties remained separate until 1974, when they were united as the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk.

In 2001, Haldimand and Norfolk were separated again in a round of municipal restructuring based on a report by provincially appointed special advisor Milt Farrow, and their individual municipalities were merged into two single-tier municipalities. The Townships of Delhi and Norfolk, Town of Simcoe, and the western half of the City of Nanticoke were amalgamated to form the "Town of Norfolk." The newly formed municipality's first by-law was to change the name to Norfolk County. Although both Haldimand and Norfolk use the name "county" for historical reasons, each is governed as a single municipality without a county government, thus neither is a true county, and are legally classified as cities.[6]

In January 2005, the county unveiled a new coat of arms which included natural symbols associated with the county: hooded warblers, a tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) and an eastern dogwood flower.

The first mayor of the county, Rita Kalmbach, was succeeded in 2007 by Dennis Travale. A transit system was introduced in Norfolk County in 2010.[7]

Historic townships

Map of Norfolk County from 1877, showing historical townships.

Prior to its amalgamation with Haldimand in 1974, Norfolk consisted of eight townships. Walsingham was originally one township, but had been split into North and South Walsingham in 1881. Although no longer political entities, the historical townships are still used informally and in some government maps as convenient geographical divisions.

Township Township seat
Charlotteville Vittoria
Houghton Fairground
Middleton Delhi
North Walsingham Langton
South Walsingham Port Rowan
Townsend Waterford
Windham Windham Centre
Woodhouse Port Dover



Norfolk County's main town is Simcoe, which hosts city council and generally serves as the administrative centre. Port Dover, Delhi and Waterford are the other population centres in Norfolk County. Langton and Port Rowan are the largest communities in the western side of the county.

As the population is mainly rural, smaller communities generally predominate along highway intersections.

Tourism and attractions

Norfolk County's primary tourist attractions are the ports, towns and villages along Lake Erie, which the municipality promotes as "Ontario's South Coast". These towns include Port Dover, Turkey Point and Long Point. Fishing is another key attraction for tourist, as well as birding, hiking, camping and cycling. Main festivals include the Norfolk County Fair & Horse Show (October), Waterford Pumpkin Festival (October), the Friday the 13th motorcycle rally at Port Dover, and Simcoe Christmas Panorama (December). Agri-tourism is another expanding attraction for tourists coming to Norfolk County, with a few wineries in development and numerous farmgate retailers. Wilsonville’s Whistling Gardens, in the northeast Norfolk County, is Ontario’s newest publicly accessible botanical garden and one of the few that are privately run in Canada. In 2014, it was named one of Norfolk’s Top 10 Amazing Places on a social mapping tool created by Ontario’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.[11]


The Norfolk County Public Library has branches in Delhi, Port Dover, Port Rowan, Simcoe and Waterford. The Simcoe branch, an Ontario Historic Site, was created in 1884 on Peel Street after a mechanics' institute was closed and its property donated for the creation of a free public library. The original building was used until 1912, when it was replaced with a new library building constructed as one of the Carnegie libraries.[12]

Delhi’s Backstage Capitol Theatre, with its superior acoustics and intimate setting, attracts audiences and performers alike from all over North America. Open year round, the theatre not only plays host to live performances and concerts, it is also a sought after venue for private functions with its European courtyard setting. Thousands of people looking for a unique venue have walked through the doors of the Theatre. Re-opened in 2008 the theatre has quickly become one of Norfolk's most popular destinations.

The Lighthouse Festival Theatre Company has produced live theatre at Port Dover's old town hall (under the clock tower) since 1981. The Theatre is open year round and provides a variety of events, including concerts, public meetings, community fund raisers, dance recitals, workshops, band rehearsals and classes. Annually, more than 36000 people now attend events at Lighthouse Theatre. In addition to enriching the cultural fabric of Norfolk and beyond, Lighthouse bolsters the local economy, drawing tourists from out of town who then dine, shop and stay over in the community.

Waterford's Old Town Hall is home to many local theatre productions. This restored historic building, built in 1902, includes an auditorium with stage, seating for 180, and provides cultural diversity to the community in its capacity as a venue for musical, artistic and theatrical productions, a meeting hall and rental facility.

More recently, the South Coast Jazz festival has attracted thousands of visitors to the region, featuring since its 2014 inception such internationally renowned artists as Holly Cole,[13] David Sanborn, Oakland Stroke,[14] and Toronto's Shuffle Demons. Founder Juliann Kuchocki, a former professional dancer, hopes the festival will continue to grow with the region's increasing status as a wine-producing region. [15]


Port Dover Harbour Museum

The Port Dover Harbour Museum, housed in an original fisherman's net shanty, commemorates Port Dover's fishing industry. The galleries present exhibits on the days of commercial sail as well as Lake Erie shipwrecks, ship building, Long Point, the War of 1812 and other aspects of lakeside life in this community. The museum is also active in the preservation and presentation of local folklore and living traditions, particularly in the areas of fishing and lakeside history. Since 2002, the museum has been the home to a collection of artifacts from the 1852 wreck of the steamer Atlantic. One notable exhibit commemorated the bicentennial of the burning of Dover Mills, a hamlet burned to the ground by American soldiers in 1814. The Town of Port Dover was later established when the harbour at the mouth of the Lynn River was dredged.[16]

Waterford Heritage & Agricultural Museum

The Waterford Heritage & Agricultural Museum is located in Waterford's best known industrial landmarks “The Pickle Factory”. The museum exhibits the social, industrial, and agricultural history of the area through the use of interactive and engaging exhibits.

Eva Brook Donly Museum

The Eva Brook Donly Museum is a Victorian-period historic house museum that has been featuring displays of local history since it first opened in 1946. Located in downtown Simcoe and operated by the Norfolk Historical Society, which formed in 1900, the museum is renowned for its collections of artwork by the late William Edgar Cantelon and Eva Brook Donly. Here, you can see Dr. Troyer's infamous witch trap, Abigail Becker's gold medal presented to her for having rescued stranded sailors in 1854, an original Van Norman stove and much more. The museum also has an extensive archival collection of local genealogical historical material, including photographs, diaries, wills, legal papers, vital statistics, maps and more.

Teeterville Pioneer Museum

The Teeterville Pioneer Museum is a museum devoted to pioneer life in the 19th century. It includes antique farm equipment as well as home and garden tools.

Delhi Tobacco Museum and Heritage Centre

The Delhi Tobacco Museum and Heritage Centre displays the agricultural and cultural history of the former township. Despite a province-wide smoking ban, the museum still guarantees its patrons the benefits of viewing the artistry and science of tobacco farming during the Golden Years of growing tobacco. It is located near Quances Dam. There is also a park nearby that is enjoyed by the local residents for picnics, barbecues, and for walking around with. It is closed on Sundays and major holidays.

Backus Mill Heritage and Conservation Centre

The Backus Mill Heritage and Conservation Centre, an open-air museum featuring a historic grist mill and a nature center, is a National Historic Site.


Port Dover is the location of a biker rally which takes place every Friday the 13th.

Simcoe is well known for annual community events including the Rotary Friendship Festival, Simcoe Panorama, and the Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show, Canada's largest County Fair, that is held every Thanksgiving weekend in October.

Every October, Waterford hosts a Pumpkin Festival close to the end of the month. The Waterford Lions and Lioness clubs have been organizing the event since 2009. Due to low funding, the fireworks are no longer an event at the Waterford Pumpkin Festival. The usual features of the Pumpkin Festival are a pyramid of 1500 pumpkins, decorated buildings, craft shows, an automobile show, a carnival, live entertainment, and the locally famous Pumpkinbowl football game at Waterford District High School.

The Donnybrook Fair in Walsh is an annual two-day event. The fair has been held every year from 1857 until the present, making 2007 the 150th Fair. This mid-September event involves the children of Walsh Public School and St. Michael's School entering projects and many agricultural commodities, grown locally, for prize money and ribbons. More than $1200 was paid to the elementary children in 2006. The fair has grown every year with the help of many volunteers. Fundraising events are held all year to finance the fair. These events include an annual barbecue dance, a Victoria Day brunch, food booths at every "Friday the 13th" event in Port Dover, and numerous raffles. The most popular event at each fair is the demolition derby. These were sponsored for a long time by the Horsepower Unlimited Car Club from Simcoe but are now sponsored by the Vittoria & St. Williams Fire Department Auxiliaries. 2007 was considered to be the 34th consecutive year of the demolition derbies.

Throughout the year, the fairgrounds and the Community Centre Hall are frequently used for weddings, funerals, and buck and doe events. The name "Donnybrook Fair" comes from an early settler of Walsh, who said the fair reminded him of an annual horse fair in Donnybrook, Dublin, Ireland.

Port Rowan hosts an annual Bayfest.

Gentlemen of the Road

In August 2013, Mumford & Sons hosted a 4-day stopover of their travelling music festival, called Gentlemen of the Road, in Norfolk County. It took place in the Norfolk County Fairgrounds, and was called the Gentlemen of the Road Simcoe Stopover.[17] 35,000 festival-goers attended the festival, as well as many out-of-town resources for the event production.[18] The aim of this tour was to be an economic stimulus for small towns in various parts of the world, where their festival stopovers occurred. The band encouraged festival goers to spend their money locally at each stopover.[19] Simcoe and Norfolk were no different, having brought in an estimated $10 million in tourism revenues.[20]


Norfolk County is also known for its attraction to boaters and fishers. The small village in Norfolk County, Turkey Point, is known for having the largest freshwater marina in Canada, MacDonald Turkey Point Marina. All summer long, thousands travel from Turkey Point to Pottahawk Point to party.[21] A thriving boating scene can be found in Port Rowan; where alcoholic beverages can frequently be found on the docks and consumed by boaters over the age of majority. They must be purchased inland either through a local bar or through the government-owned beer store.


The Norfolk HERicanes ices house league teams in the Greater Hamilton Girls Hockey League and has its rep teams playing in the Lower Lakes Female Hockey League. The Hericanes play out of Talbot Gardens and Simcoe Rec Centre in Simcoe, Port Dover Arena, Waterford Arena and Delhi Arena.

Norfolk has three Junior C level hockey teams. The Port Dover Sailors and Simcoe Storm play in the Niagara & District Junior C Hockey League. The Delhi Travellers play in the neighbouring Midwestern Junior C Hockey League.

The Norfolk Vikings Junior A team play in the independent GMHL, playing at Talbot Gardens in Simcoe.

The Norfolk Harvesters RFC of the Niagara Rugby Union are a competitive rugby football club that operates both men's and women's, senior and U18 rugby teams. The Club was established in 2001 and has won division championships in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2014 and 2015. The Club's current home is the rugby pitch at Waterford's Hellyer Memorial Park. Players have gone on to represent the Niagara Region and Ontario.


Public schools in Norfolk County are administered by the Grand Erie District School Board. The board maintains 16 public elementary schools and five public high schools in Norfolk:

The board also administers Sprucedale Secondary School, a facility for young offenders.

Separate schools

Separate schools are administered by the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board, which maintains seven elementary schools and one high school:

There is also a separate school administered by the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud


These eleven elementary schools once taught residents of Norfolk County. Many of these school closed down between the 1950s to the early 2000s as a result of changing municipal and provincial policies towards the funding of education:


Featuring Norfolk

In 2004 the documentary film Tobacco's Last Stand was released which highlighted the effect on tobacco production on the region.[22]


Simcoe has its own radio station, CHCD-FM, And the area is otherwise served by media in Erie (Pennsylvania), Cleveland (Ohio), Buffalo (New York), and some radio stations from Toronto are also often receivable.


Notable residents


The population in 2011 was 63,175; and was projected to reach 87,488 people by the year 2056.[23]

Canada census – Norfolk County, Ontario community profile
2011 2006
Population: 63,175 (1.0% from 2006) 62,563 (2.8% from 2001)
Land area: 1,607.60 km2 (620.70 sq mi) 1,606.91 km2 (620.43 sq mi)
Population density: 39.3/km2 (102/sq mi) 38.9/km2 (101/sq mi)
Median age:
Total private dwellings: 27,814 26,527
Median household income:
References: 2011[1] 2006[24]

According to Statistics Canada 2001 census:[25]

Historical population:[25][24]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Norfolk County census profile". 2011 Census of Population. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
  2. Boutin N. Fairground family first to gamble on Gojis. Berries can be used in many ways, Tillsonburg News, August 1, 2008
  3. Ryder Farms Inc. information at Wholesome Pickins
  4. Dennis Horseradish Inc at Norfolk Farms
  5. Report on Tree Conservation By-Laws in Southern Ontario at Tree Canada
  6. BY-LAW NO. 2001-01 of The Corporation of the Town of Norfolk, January 23, 2001
  7. Make public transit a top priority at
  8. "Delhi CDA, Ontario". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  9. "Delhi CDA, Ontario". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  10. Environment Canada Canadian Climate Normals 1961-1990 for Simcoe, accessed 18 March 2012
  11. Whistling Gardens has bloomed into one of the premiere attractions in Norfolk County. Norfolk News, September 14, 2016
  12. Libraries Today - Simcoe Public Library, free public library 1884
  16. The Port Dover Harbour Museum tells the story about the town’s rise to prominence along the waters of Lake Erie. Norfolk News, September 13, 2016
  17. Gentlemen of the Road Simcoe Stopover Retriever November 14, 2013.
  18. Mumford & Sons take tour to Simcoe, Ontario Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  19. 35,000 people expected at Mumford & Sons Guthrie Retrieved November 14, 2013
  20. City of Guthrie prepared for Gentlemen of the Road Tour Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  21. "Pottahawk Parties Hard". Simcoe Reformer. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  22. CM Magazine:Tobacco's Last Stand
  23. "Long Point Region SPA Updated Assessment Report" (PDF). Source Water. February 7, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  24. 1 2 "2006 Community Profiles". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
  25. 1 2 "Norfolk City community profile". 2001 Census data. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
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