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My Port Colborne: Where life’s a beach

July 20, 2016

Happy Family
Beach life
Not-to-miss festival
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Welcome to the third instalment of My Town, a new series “hosted” by Vale employees who are passionate about where they live. Come along now with Mark Ottaviano, who will guide you through the picturesque town of Port Colborne, ON.

“I’m a water person. I’m in the lake every chance I get,” said Mark Ottaviano, a process operator at our Port Colborne Refinery, which is located on the shores of Lake Erie in the Niagara Region of Ontario. “Port Colborne is a lakefront city. There’s water everywhere. Beautiful marinas. Excellent beaches. Everywhere you look there’s a great span of water surrounding the city. One of my favourite spots, ever since I was a teen, has been Sugarloaf Harbour Marina where I used to do a lot of boating. And after getting married and having children it’s where we took the kids waterskiing and tubing.”

Ottaviano, who was born and raised here, highly recommends Nickel Beach for swimming and windsurfing, and Centennial Beach, which also has tennis courts, playing fields and a kids’ play area near the shoreline.

While Ottaviano currently lives in Welland, a 15-minute drive from Port Colborne, it’s to his hometown of “PC” (as it’s known) that he gravitates, and not just for time in (or on) the water.

“Port Colborne is a lot more diversified now than when I was growing up here. Back then it was mostly European, a lot of Italian families like mine for example,” said Ottaviano, “but it’s much more multicultural now. I see it in the variety of ethnic restaurants and the types of festivals that take place here – and I really like that change.”

An example of this transformation is one of Ottaviano’s favourite Mexican restaurants, Eh Amigos Cantino on Clarence Street, down by the canal. “I don’t remember such authentic Mexican food in Port Colborne when I was younger,” he said. “The food is excellent!”  If the Ottaviano clan is in the mood for familiar European food, however, right next door to Eh Amigos is a popular Italian eatery that’s a big hit with his family: Eataly.

Port Colborne’s location at the southern end of the Welland Canal has given risen to Canal Days Marine Heritage Festival, of which Vale has been a long-time sponsor. “There are bands, waterfront activities for the entire family, fireworks, and the Tall Ships make an appearance,” he said. “You see tourists as well as locals at Canal Days – and you can nosh on a variety of good food.” 

So, where would visitors go to meet locals? “That’ easy,” said Ottaviano. “City Tavern on Main Street is our version of “Cheers.”  It’s been around for as long as I can remember. City Tavern is a staple of Port Colborne. I don’t go that often but when I do I always meet people I know.”  And that makes one more reason to come to Port Colborne.

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