Coaster Enthusiasts of Canada

Closed Canadian Parks




Manhattan Park/Beach
(1875? - 1888 ? - 1902?)

    This resort grew out of John Gauthier's pleasure park which had been built around The Sandwich Mineral Springs and its hotel. It occupied about four hectares and contained 10 picnic groves with walkways and a children's playground. At night the park was illuminated by 100 gas lamps. The proprietors were Stephenson & Blanchett.

    1885 ads proclaimed that the area had Beautiful Shady Lawns, a Cafe serving "the Delicacies of the Season", a Dairy with Milk, Creams, Ices, Fruits and Confections, and The Children's Carousal. It's not clear if this was a merry-go-round or not as it's mentioned in conjunction with Swings, so it may have been the name of a children's play area. However, given the popularity of merry-go-rounds, this likely referred to a ride. Also available were Croquet Grounds and Lawn Tennis. There was apparently no charge for the recreations.

    The park had 25 Baths associated with the springs and were advertised as "Unequalled in the world for medicinal properties." Another ad proclaimed "A RESORT FOR FAMILIES -- Every precaution will be taken to guard against any Disorderly, Intoxicated or Improper persons on these grounds".

    The same ferries serviced both Manhattan and Brighton Beach, but the schedules advertised for Manhattan differ from those listed for Brighton. These state that ferries ran every hour from 10:30 AM until 5:30 PM, with a final boat leaving Brighton via Manhattan at 6 PM. It appears the popularity of both resorts increased and the times in the "Brighton" article above are for later in July. Another ad claims conversely, that ferries ran every half hour. Unless there was more than one ferry company serving the park, perhaps the schedules changed quite a bit for these new parks until they settled in to one that was suitable for the number of patrons utilizing the service.

    Celebrations for Dominion Day (now Canada Day) on July 1st and American Independence Day on July 4th in 1885 included Brass and String Music all day & evening, and large fireworks displays. The July 4th show was by a Professor Holz from Detroit. Ferries for both occasions would delay last boats leaving until after the fireworks had completed. One ad of the time called the park "The Coney Island of the West".

    The park must have also had a theater, or at least an outdoor performance area for travelling troupes. Some of the acts which played Manhattan Park also went on to The Toronto Industrial Exhibition, which was later renamed The "Canadian National Exhibition". One such production was 1886's The Last Days of Pompeii.

    No information has surfaced on the demise of this park, but it may have failed not long after the springs lost their luster. The ferries apparently stopped in the late 1880's. However, one source claims that the park changed hands several times. This is borne out by the fact that Stephenson & Blanchett apparently had goods seized in 1885 after a bad opening season. Eventually B.H. Rothwell and Gilbert Graham became the proprietors. They changed the name to "Lagoon Park". If so, this may mean Manhattan Park continued to run until 1902 when it officially became Lagoon Park.

    The Windsor Archives shows there was a newspaper running in 1890 and 1891 called the "Walkerville Mercury." The publisher was one S. Stephenson and the synopsis said he wanted to produce a paper the whole family could read. This may have been the same Stephenson as was associated with this park. Perhaps he went into the newspaper business after Manhattan Beach closed. If this is the case, then the park likely closed in 1889 or before, unless he ran both at the same time for a while.

    Thanks to Detroit-area resident Mike Schulte for suggesting this park and providing details.

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