During the summers in the first half of the 20th century the beaches at Oxley and Colchester attracted hundreds of visitors both local and American. The Ravine Hotel and the Erie View Hotel on Oxley Beach catered to families and the Colchester Casino, by Colchester Beach was a centre of dancing and entertainment. (Information/Images courtesy of SWODA)
1. Oxley Beach
ERIE VIEW / HOLY FAMILY RETREAT HOUSE
In 1922 the Erie View Hotel began as a small resort cottage built by Mr and Mrs. Joseph Malone and grew to host 60 large rooms in four separate buildings on its 5 acre grounds. The dining room could accommodate 130 people and the kitchen gave ready service. The buildings were settled amongst a wooded area which stood eight feet above the long sandy beach. The hotel also had tennis courts.
About 1947 the Erie View Hotel was purchased and became the Holy Family Retreat House. Its purpose to be a retreat for laymen throughout the year. In the 1960’s the Holy Family Founders’ Club raised funds for updates and expansion of buildings. The Holy Family Retreat House is still functioning as a spiritual retreat for individuals and groups.
In the winter of 1902 R. Arthur Bailey, an architect from Detroit, purchased the Julien and Harris properties in Oxley. The twenty acre property sat on a bluff 65 feet above lake level, with almost 200 feet of clean white sanded beachfront. A deep ravine was fed by springs and ran through the property out to the lake. Mr. Bailey planned to make the property a strictly Detroit resort. In May of 1903 “The Ravine house” was being refitted for guests and over the years drew summer visitors from all around. In 1907 Mr. Bailey leased the cafe for the summer to G.F. Ferriss of Harrow, lowered rates and introduced many innovations. By 1921 the property also hosted furnished cottages with baths and home cooked food for guests. The entire property fronted by the Oxley Beach, a long-time treasure of the area. The beach was a referred to as Bailey’s Beach for a time when it was owned by R. A. Bailey of Detroit.
Ravine Cottages continues to cater to guests as an RV and Trailer Park geared towards those over 50 and has 5 yearly cottage rentals available.
2. Colchester Beach
The Colchester Casino and McVittie’s General Store were founded by George McVittie in 1925 and over the years Mr McVittie constantly updated with features such as a PA system, soda fountain and coloured lighting. In 1936 a soundproof telephone booth was added - a unique feature which was not available in any other small municipality.
Colchester Casino drew visitors from Windsor, Amherstburg and Michigan. The 50x60’ dance floor could accommodate 500 dancers and was surrounded by screens. It hosted a triple dance flour of maple, four feet above the ground on posts. Adjoining the casino was a meat market and restaurant general store that sold newspapers, chinaware, candies and more.
HILLIS HORSESHOE VILLAGE
The first cabins of the Hills Horseshoe Village in Colchester were built on the shore of lake Erie in 1931 and by 1946 had expanded to 12 cabins which were managed by Jerry and Leslie Hills. Mrs. Jerry Hillis managed the resort in 1945 while her husband and brother in law, Jerry served in the navy. The resort cabins remained in operation through the mid 1950’s.
3. Belcreft Beach
4. Other Beaches
Ambassador Beach, Seymour Beach, Lypps Beach, Klie's Beach, Pleasure Beach.