The origins of Silver Lake begin in 1856 when Andrew Thompson dammed the Lynn River in support of Norfolk Woolen Mill. In 1918 the wooden dam was replaced by a concrete structure known as the Penman Dam, which created a mill pond to support several local industries.
The Penman Dam has been known as the Misner Dam since J. Harry Misner purchased the mill in 1934. Other than its name, the dam has not changed in the subsequent 100 years.
Generations of Port Dover residents have fond memories of fishing (sun fish, largemouth bass, silver/white bass, and carp), canoeing, swimming, snowshoeing, skiing and ice hockey on the lake. The wetland at the upper end of the lake provides a habitat for great blue herons and green herons, native fish, turtles and other aquatic animals and birds.
When Ivey’s Greenhouses closed in 1992, the Port Dover Lions Club purchased the majority of the land around Silver Lake to develop trails, picnic areas, and sitting areas for lakefront viewing. The Lions Club property includes approximately 800 meters of shoreline.
Port Dover Lions Club Commitment to Silver Lake
Purchasing the property was made possible through the volunteer fundraising efforts of Lions Club members and generous contributions of time, money, and sweat equity from the community.
During the site’s initial cleanup, tens of thousands of roses had to be pulled out by the roots and burned to honour the green house license requirements for disposing of hybrid breeding stock. Approximately 150 people pitched in every Saturday for several weeks and sported the scratches to prove they were part of the crew.
The club retained a consultant to advise on the project layout and Master Plan. Restoration efforts focused on Carolinian tree species. Lynn Valley District Scouts, Cubs and Beavers have planted approximately 2000 Carolinian trees, including ash, honey-suckle, Kentucky coffee, dogwood, maple, cedar, and oak. Tree planting is an ongoing process.
Additional restoration efforts include native grasses and plants in strategic areas north of the old greenhouse area, duck boxes, and a road network. A soccer field has been developed on the land south of the previous greenhouse area.
Businesses and individuals have purchased memorial benches around the lake. Notably, Scotia Bank bought 20 benches, but asked to have only one inscribed so that the remaining 19 could be sold again.
Looking to the future
Silver Lake Park hosts more than 65,000 visitors annually. People come to the park for educational and recreational activities, which boost the economy in Port Dover and surrounding villages. Park development is ongoing. In 2011 a new pavilion was added to provide a stage for concerts and other outdoor events. Remaining plans include a boardwalk over the wetland area with interpretative signage. Norfolk County has issued tenders for the repair of Misner Dam, with construction scheduled to start in July, 2020. Once the Dam is repaired, a dedicated team of Lions is ready to continue with our fundraising projects to deal with cleaning up areas in stages.
Port Dover Lions Club
Silver Lake Utilization Schedule (pdf)
PDML Misner Dam letter July 15 2020 (pdf)