Viewed from the air, Port Franks tree canopy is so dense it hides all trace of human habitation. Characterized by twisting, rolling, treed rural roads shaped by its many river branches, creeks and inlets, Port Franks offers an abundance of quiet, picturesque charm that residents treasure and seasonal visitors crave. A great place to kayak and canoe and spot birds.
Part of the Carolinian Life Zone, Port Franks coastal dune system is home to plants and animals found collectively nowhere else in Canada. The Acadian Flycatcher, Dwarf Hackberry trees, various species of Blazing Stars, Eastern Flying Squirrel, Eastern Hognosed Snake and Giant Swallowtail Butterfly can all be found inhabiting this rare Oak Savanna ecosystem.
The Lambton County Heritage Forest, purchased in 1940, is owned and managed by the County of Lambton. Abutting to the west, L-Lake Management Area has been owned and managed by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority since 1987. The Karner Blue Sanctuary was purchased in 1988 by Lambton Wildlife Incorporated. The Port Franks Forested Dunes Nature Reserve, obtained by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 1994, is managed by Lambton Wildlife Incorporated.
Before settlement, the Port Franks area was used by the Attawandaron nation for flint chipping used in weapons made for the Huron and Iroquois tribes. In 1948, Dr. Wilfred Jury located and excavated the flint workshops in what is now known as the Lambton County Heritage Forest.
Between 1653 and the 1830s, knowledge of human activity in the Port Franks area is unknown or sketchy. Many surveyors travelled into the area in the early 1800s, including Mahlon Burwell and Samuel Smith for which the inland lakes of Burwell and Smith were named. Port Franks officially became a village in Lambton County in 1877 (information courtesy CarolinianCanada.ca).
Salt was discovered in Port Franks in 1881 and a salt plant existed and operated for 12 years. By this time, the area was becoming known as a tourist community. After World War II, the economic boom that followed saw Port Franks growing rapidly into the community and tourist attraction it is today.
Port Franks marina is the largest in Lambton Shores and like Grand Bend’s marina, boasts Blue Flag status. It has 70 seasonal slips, diesel gas dock, public boat launch, public washrooms and showers, pump out, electrical, internet, ice, park with picnic area, pavilion and volleyball court.
Near MacPherson’s Restaurant (located on highway 21) and Port Franks Road, you’ll find the famous giant sand hill which delights kids of all ages who enjoy the challenge of climbing up and walking down.
Port Franks Community Centre is not only the location of lots of green space, but also boasts two courts with tennis and pickle ball lines (pick-up the keys from the municipal office at 9575 Port Franks Road and Northville Road), skateboard park, playground equipment, soccer field, shaded sitting areas and trail heads for Lambton County Heritage Trail System. You’ll also find Port Franks library located here.
Apart from many private cottages, there are two bed and breakfasts in Port Franks – Bee & Bee Bed and Breakfast and Gillespie Gardens Bed and Breakfast. Two good sized restaurants are located on highway 21 between Port Franks and Northville roads – MacPherson’s Restaurant and Grog’s Pub & Grill. Oh! Pizza is located at 9985 Erie Street near the marina. Khaos Artisan Kitchen at 7607 Ransford Street is a beloved local bakery offering fresh baked breads, scones, biscuits and specialty cakes and other baked treats.
MacPherson’s is also the location to find movie rentals, gas, snacks, lottery tickets, baked goods (famous for their pies!) and other cottage vacation essentials.
Port Franks is also the location of Art By 3, which provides workshops of all types including metal art, paintings, fused glass and more.
Port Franks beach is owned and maintained by local property owners and as such is not open to the public. You need to be staying at one of its accommodation providers to access the beach and parking near the beach is very limited.