Creator(s): Lambton Heritage Museum
Grand Bend was first settled in the 1830s by the mill hands of Benjamin Brewster & Company. Logs from The Pinery were hauled here to be sawn by water power, and the workers built their shanties nearby. The isolated hamlet took its name from the hairpin turn in the Ausable River, and was popularly referred to as "the Grand Bend".
At that time, the settlement was connected to other communities along the eastern shoreline of Lake Huron only by the periodic visits of lake steamers. The building of "The Mercantile Road" (later the Bluewater Highway) by the Canada Company in the 1850s would provide the first reliable access to settlers and traders alike. Recreational tourists would soon follow.
By the 1910s, cars were much more affordable and plentiful, and the tourism industry boomed in the region. A series of annual summer Ford Picnics were organized with balloon launches, softball games and beauty contests. As many as 16,000 people would descend on the town for the weekend, confirming Grand Bend's prominence in the tourism of western Ontario, an industry which is still celebrated today.