The site of Port Stanley was part of an important early route from Lake Erie to other inland waterways for a succession of explorers and travellers of the 17th and 18th centuries, serving as an important landing point and camping spot.
Adrien Jolliet, brother of Louis Jolliet, landed at this location in 1669 during the first descent of the Great Lakes by Europeans. The site bounded by Bridge, Main and Colbourne Streets was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1923, and was marked with a cairn.
A settlement named Kettle Creek was founded here in 1812 by Lieutenant-Colonel John Bostwick. Around 1824, it was renamed Port Stanley after Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, who had visited nearby Port Talbot. Lord Stanley later became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the father of Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, Governor General of Canada, ice hockey enthusiast and donor of the first Stanley Cup in 1893.
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