Ridgeway, Ontario Canada

Discover Ridgeway, Ontario: A Blend of History and Charm

Ridgeway, a quaint village nestled in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, is a hidden gem within the Niagara Regional Municipality. Once the seat of government for Bertie Township within Welland County, Ridgeway is now a part of the Town of Fort Erie. This charming community has transformed its former rail line into a walking and cycling trail, part of a trail system encircling the Niagara region.

The Historical Roots of Ridgeway, Ontario

Ridgeway owes its name to the limestone ridge that runs through it from north to south. The town's main street, aptly named Ridge Road, follows this ridge and was part of one of the first two wagon trails in Bertie Township, connecting Point Abino on Lake Erie to Miller’s Creek on the Niagara River.

Settled by the United Empire loyalists in the late 18th-century, Ridgeway was originally a farming community. The 1850s saw the introduction of the Buffalo, Brantford and Goderich Railway line, leading to the development of service industries around the train stop on Ridge Road. The business district spread north from there towards Dominion Road. In 1873, the post office was opened, having been moved from Point Abino.

The Battle of Ridgeway, Ontario: A Turning Point in History

Ridgeway is notable for being the location of the 1866 Battle of Ridgeway. This battle resulted from a raid by the Irish-American Fenian Brotherhood near the intersection of Ridge and Garrison Roads on June 2, 1866. The Fenians, Irish-American revolutionaries, invaded Canada as part of an attempt to oust the British and create an independent Irish republic.

This was the largest of these border skirmishes. Canadian militiamen under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Booker arrived by train and marched to battle the invaders. The Fenians retired to Fort Erie and returned to Buffalo the same night. The Battle of Ridgeway shocked the country, spurring improvements to Canada’s defenses, and helping to bolster the movement for confederation, which took place the next year.

Events and Festivals in Ridgeway, Ontario

Ridgeway is home to the Ridgeway Shores Golf Club (now closed) and Cherry Hill Club which once hosted the Canadian Open golf tournament in 1972.

The Ridgeway Summer Festival is a highlight of the year, held every year on the second weekend in July. The streets are closed off, and thousands of visitors stroll the historical downtown enjoying music, food, vendors, and shows. An event called Spirit of Christmas is held on the first weekend in December, featuring horse-drawn carriage rides, school choirs singing outdoors, Victorian carollers, strolling Santa, food and more.

The Geography of Ridgeway, Ontario

The Fort Erie area, including Ridgeway, is generally flat, but there are low sand hills along the shore of Lake Erie, and a limestone ridge extends from Point Abino to near Miller's Creek. The soil is shallow, with a clay subsoil.

Ridgeway is situated just north of Crystal Beach and Bay Beach, considered the best beaches in the area and draw many weekend visitors from the Toronto and Buffalo areas. While summers are enjoyable, winters can occasionally be fierce, with many snowstorms, whiteouts and winds whipping off Lake Erie.

Communities and Schools in Ridgeway, Ontario

Ridgeway is one of the neighbourhoods of Fort Erie, along with Black Creek, Bridgeburg/NorthEnd/Victoria, Crescent Park, Crystal Beach, Point Abino, Snyder, and Stevensville.

Fort Erie Secondary School and Ridgeway-Crystal Beach High School are the two public high schools serving Fort Erie and area communities. The 2 schools closed in June 2017 due to low populations and have combined into Greater Fort Erie Secondary School serving all areas of Fort Erie.

Transportation in Ridgeway, Ontario

Ontario Highway 3 runs through Ridgeway and was named King's Highway 3A from 1927 to 1929. Within Ridgeway, Highway 3 is named Garrison Road, and is the major East-West connection through the town. Dominion Road was designated as King's Highway 3C from 1934 until 1970, when it was downloaded to the newly formed Regional Municipality of Niagara and redesignated as Niagara Regional Road 1.

Trails in Ridgeway, Ontario

Fort Erie, including Ridgeway, is the eastern terminus of the Friendship Trail, and the southern terminus of the Niagara River Recreation Pathway. Both trails are part of the Trans-Canada Trail system.