Robert's Report


As we approach the end of the 2013 harvest in Ontario a new region is emerging apply for AVA status; the Ontario's South Coast Wineries and Growers Association Located along the Ontario's Lake Erie North Shore between the Lake Erie North Shore AVA and the famous wine region the Niagara Peninsula . We wish them the very best.

They place significant imports on the following claiming to be the first to make wine from grapes gown in Canada


In 1669 two Sulpician priests Francois Dollier de Casson ( the leader ) and Rene Brehant De Galinee in the company of 7 soldiers paddled their 3 birch bark canoes from Montreal departing in July of that year with the intention of reaching the Ohio. They paddled down the St Lawrence and followed the south shore of Lake Ontario and arrived at last at the end of Lake Ontario...called at the time.... Lac Iroquois.

They portaged to and descended the Grand River and with the onset of winter, upon arriving at what would be Port Dover they made camp and over wintered there spending in the end result almost 5 and a half months before setting out again in the spring of 1670. The site of their over wintering is marked in port Dover as a National Historic site just off what is now Donjon Blvd.

Galinee kept a detailed journal the original of which still exists in the National Library in France. Concerning their arrival in what would be Dover he wrote...

“ We had …grapes…of which we had in abundance. I will tell you, by the way, that the vine grows here only in sand, on the banks of lakes and rivers, but although it has no cultivation it does not fail to produce grapes in great quantities as large and as sweet as the finest of France. We even made wine of them…and it was as good as vin de Grave. . It was a heavy, dark wine like the latter. Only red grapes are seen here, but in so great quantities we found places where one could easily have made 25 or 30 hogsheads of wine. …Assuredly, there is no more beautiful region in all of Canada.

In fact they celebrated mass throughout the Winter and remained in good health   and scurvy doubt the wine played a role!

They were obliged to end their mission due to a crisis that occurred at Point Pelee and so returned to Montreal.

Galinees journal was sent by the Intendant Jean Talon to France's chief minister Jean Colbert and there is no doubt given Colberts relationship with his sovereign that Louis XIV was made aware of its contents. Dollier read Galinees journal before it was sent to France and vouched for its accuracy

Elsewhere in the journal, concerning the over wintering site Galinee wrote

…we found a spot which appeared to us so beautiful, with such an abundance of game, we thought we could not find a better in which to pass our winter. …I leave you to imagine…this abundance in the earthly Paradise of Canada, I call it so because there is assuredly no more beautiful region in all Canada. The woods are open, interspersed with beautiful meadows, watered by rivers and rivulets filled with fish, an abundance of fruits…and full of game'

the above information was provided by John Ayre

Actual source is the Journal of Rene Brehant de Galinee written July 1670 . A French and English reprint was done in 1903  by the Ontario Historical society

François Dollier de Casson is perhaps best known for his Histoire de Montréal . He also contributed to church architecture and served as vicar general of the diocese of Quebec . He ordered the first survey of Montreal, creating the street layout of what is now known as Old Montreal . In addition, he was one of the key figures of the first attempt to dig the Lachine Canal in 1689.

Photo - Collection François Daniel / Archives du Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice, Montréal


Description of Historic Place

Cliff Site National Historic Site of Canada, located on Brant Hill in Port Dover, Ontario, overlooks Highway 6, along the north shore of Lake Erie. The site is marked by a large memorial cross. A cross on a pedestal resting on octogonal steps, this monument bears a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque, as well as a secondary plaque, commemorating a 1670 cross raising of which there are no extant remains. Official recognition refers to the current site of the cross surrounded by a five metre radius.

Heritage Value

Cliff Site was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1920 because:
- On March 23, 1670, two Sulpician priests, François Dollier de Casson and René de Brehant de Galinée, laid claim in the name of France to the north shore of Lake Erie, an important episode in the development of the Canadian nation.

On 6 July 1669, French missionaries François Dollier de Casson and René Bréhent de Galinée departed from Montréal as part of an expedition into the interior led by Robert Cavalier de La Salle. Part of an original party of twenty-two Europeans and Algonkian interpreters, Dollier and Galinée split from the party shortly after travelling through present-day Hamilton. Dollier and Galinée were accompanied by seven men and three canoes and, in late October 1669, they set up a winter camp at the present day community of Port Dover. Having chosen the site for its aesthetic appeal and abundant food sources, Dollier and Galinée declared this area territory of France in the name of King Louis XIV. On 23 March 1670, three days prior to the group's departure, a large cross was erected with the arms of France, thereby marking an important episode in the development of the Canadian nation.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1920, December 2008.


The first winery in operation today located in this region is Quai Du Vin Estate Winery located in Elgin County near the city of St.Thomas.

For more information on the history of Canada's Wine Industry Click


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