Click to Enlarge all Picts
Town Seal / Village Seal
Welcome! - The electronic version featuring
town happenings and goings on.
Jeans Bar & Grill
Linda Lou's - Popular breakfast & lunch cafe
Baptist Church (INFO)
Lutheran Church (INFO)
Woodcock Brothers Brewery
Woodcock Brothers Brewery Kitchen
Have a Picnic here.
Once Wilson's principal employer.
Sunset Island Home
Sunset Island Homes
Sunset Island Home
Signs pointing the way
Wilson Harbor (west)
Tuscarora State Park Marina
Bridge to Wilson Y.C.
Tuscarora Yacht Club
Nearby Twelve Mile Creek
Wilson House Inn & Restaurant
Wilson Boat Yard Marina
Leisure time at Harbor Entrance
Leisure time at Harbor Entrance
Harbor side Art gallery
Just what it says
Old School House (circa 1861)
Ira Pettit: This Historical Plaque stands in front of cobblestone house #2 and was the home of the father of Private Ira Pettit of Company B, 11th Regiment, 2nd Brigade, United States Army during the War Between the States. Ira died at age 23 in Andersonville prison Sumter County, Georgia, of scurvy after capture. His personal diary was given to his Father and later published as "Diary of a Dead Man”
Morgan Johnson: This Historical Plaque can be found in front of cobblestone house #4 and was the home of ship captain Morgan Johnson who built his home in 1844. His ship, the "Milly Cook" caught fire and sank in Wilson Harbor. The spot is still known today as Milly Cook Cove. The anchor on the lawn is from the schooner "Franklin Pierce", which sank in 1840. The anchor was found near Wilson pier 57 years later!
Billy Sherman, the Confederate Horse from Wilson
Daisy Barn RV Park
Wilson Historical Society
Wilson Harbor WebCam
Census Data & Stats
Geodetic / Nautical Chart
Wilson Calendar of Events
Check weekends for fun events.
"Wilson" is the work of Longtime resident Avis A. Townsend. She has been a 16 year member of the Wilson Board of Education, newspaper editor and novelist.
The book "Wilson" is part of her Images of America Series which celebrates the history of small towns throughout the country. Her books are supported by vintage photos and early maps and documents provided by the towns older residents. "Wilson" is available in shops in the Village of Wilson and on line.
Wilson on the Lake
Updated as necessary (last - May 9, 2013)
by Sandy Estabrook
Detailed Village Map Detailed County Map
Large Satellite View
Large Seasonal Photos
Harbor Entrance - facing Sunset Island
Sunset Island - western end shot fromTuscarora State Park
A Day on the Lake
Sunset on the Lake
The Niagara County Village of Wilson is a sleepy one stop-light village and farming community of little change over the last couple decades. 2008 saw its sesquicentennial. It lies on Lake Ontario 20 miles east of Niagara , 62 miles west of Rochester and 37 miles across the lake from Toronto. It's just blocks off Route 18 know as The Seaway Trail. It's surrounded by corn fields, apple & cherry orchards, and all punctuated by an occasional vineyard. Wilson is also the name of the township (pop 6,000 as of 2010 of which 1,200 are in the village). November 2012 saw the opening of the Woodcock Brothers Brewery, at the old Cold Storage Building located across from the flea market grounds on Lake St. (Rt. 425). Their grand opening was covered in an article in the Buffalo News. In addition to the brewery's bar, they have included a restaurant serving light fare and all cooked in their wood stoves. Much of the original interior has been left in tact, all be it spruced up to complement it's attractive decor. This writer visited Christmas week for dinner with family and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. Outside, you'll find attached other retail space including an olive oil store, a salon, a gift shop, antique store and soon to open a distillery making apple vodka.
In contrast to its rural farming character, by summer Wilson turns into the home of vacationers and yachtsmen. Asside from the lake homes, most of the aforementioned is centered around Wilson Harbor and its numerous yacht clubs, commercial marinas, restaurants and the residences of Sunset Island. (Aerial Photo) Once maritime interests of a different variety prevailed here including boat building, fishing, farm produce distribution and in 1848 Wilson Harbor became a Port of Entry. (Info)
I started visiting Wilson in 2003 and have been vacationing every summer since. My wife grew up in Wilson and introduced me to the area with periodic visits to her folks who live on the harbor. We now have our own place but remember fondly our camper at the Daisy Barn Camp Ground where we stayed and where I launched this website in 2006. The pictures are all mine with all the unsightly overhead wiring removed.
Being a boater and island hopper by nature I've always gravitated to the seaside where ever it be; in the States, Europe and of course tropical islands especially the Abacos were we visit before heading to Wilson for the summer. Wilson NY, has now become my first, first hand experience of any consequence lakeside. The purpose of this website is to pass along my impressions and infatuation with Wilson, it's environs and people. The latter despite NY's politics to which I can attest being an ex-NY'er having left during the reign of Cuomo the 1st. This website is intended to be a brief guide for those first time visitors whether they arrive by land or by lake and it is updated whenever necessary.
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The village lies just a couple blocks south route 18. The harbor is couple blocks north. Both can easily be missed traveling Route 18. The only clue is a small sign pointing to Wilson's business district and the tell-tale marina signs opposite Brownies Drive-In.
In addition to the villages many victorian homes lining its side streets you'll find what one might expect namely, a pharmacy, IGA market, one bank (HSBC) reminiscent of the Bonny & Clyde era, pizzeria, one gas station / convenience store, a hardware store, plus an assorted other half dozen stores. There is even a small library. Where today, there is one gas station, there was once four, one food market, there were three and even a movie theater! There are a couple vintage bars the Hub and Jeans Bar & Grill which has has a for sale sign in the window for a decade.. The latter would be my choice having a nice selection of pub fare. Just up the street is Linda Lou's a typical small town luncheonette open for breakfast and lunch. Oh, lest we forget there is a pizza shop and finally not to be overlooked, the charming and historic Wilson House Inn and Restaurant. The cobblestone structure was built in 1844 for Luther Wilson, the town's namesake, and was once a men's club with a bowling alley in the basement (more on Cobblestone below). Today it is one of the few places one can stay in Wilson, and it's dinning room is open in winter. Fall through spring you'll find some of the best small ensembles from all over Western NY playing on Saturday nights. Be sure to give a listen to the Jazz/Blues quartet headed by Speedy Parker when in town. As for their menu its always great with Thursdays during spring & summer being clam night - anyway you want them ($5.95 a doz 2012) . And although one might think this a dish for a New Orleans restaurant, be sure to try their Jambalaya. (See: Article: Appetizing food and a heapin’ helpin’ of hospitality.)
For church on Sunday, there are easily a half a dozen historic churches in and around town covering all the major Christian faiths.
"Cruising Day" - Old Auto Gathereing (montage enlarge)
Niagara Motorcycle Club's Wilson Rendezvous. (montage enlarge)
Throughout summer there are many annual events scheduled by the town not generally associated with a town its size. Every summer starts off with the Wilson Harbor Invitational Fishing Tournament followed by a large flee market on Memorial Day which repeats on Labor Day weekend . There is the 5K Salmon Run, and later in the summer a triathlon. Old car & hot rod enthusiasts "Cruise In" in late June. The Niagara County Motorcycle Club congregates for their annual Wilson rendezvous too. There is a Wine Tasting & Fair at the end of July featuring numerous Niagara County vineyards. And the premiere event, late August is "Field Day". All events attract visitors from far and wide including Canada. A Calendar of events can be found on The Village's Website. for town wide events including neighboring villages check the towns website
Speaking of websites, The Village of Wilson as of 2010 is "HOT". Main St. (Young St.) in the Village is now a WiFi Hot Spot where towns folks and visitors can access the internet via the Village of Wilson public network. At this time, service is available approximately 600 ft in all directions from the villages gas station Equipment to extend this service is scheduled for the near future too. Other hot spots can be found at the harbor which are provided by the yacht clubs and marinas.
Field Day Parade
By far the biggest event is "Field Day" held the last weekend in August to raise money for the Volunteer Fire Dept. It's Wilson's major event and a place to rub shoulders with the locals. Field Day is duplicated by many of the regions neighboring villages. In each community's Field Day, neighboring towns "contribute" bands, floats, Classic Fire Trucks etc. for their parade. Essentially Field Day is a small town carnival with Wilson's being one of the largest with mini rides for the kids, games of chance, food stands featuring local fare. Every year early on during the event, I head down to the fire station for a gallon of their homemade chowder (chicken, corn and other local produce). It's fantastic, but they run out early. And yes, it and can be frozen.
The fire station doubles as a beer hall often accompanied by the music of a marching band after the parade. Regarding Field Days, sadly we've learned than some of Niagara Counties villages no longer engage in the Field Day event with others on the cutting block. A way of life for generations, going into the history books with Wilson's still surviving.
Honorable mention must be given to he prime organizer for many of Wilson's events which is the WCEC - Wilson Community Enhancement Charity. In addition to events mentioned here, especially for the kids, check out their website WCECInc.com.
Just a couple miles east of the village on Route 18 you find Wilson-Tuscarora State Park. It's right on the lake and has many offerings, not the least of which is a regionally favorite sport called Disc Golf. I have to admit, I never knew there was such a sport until first seeing it played in '06. As the name implies, it's a cross between Frisbee and Golf. It's played in wide open areas like a golf course and very popular in this region. Want to know more?
Greenwood Veterans Memorial Park
Memorial Day 2007, saw the opening of Greenwood Veterans Memorial Park. It's a short walk between the harbor's clubs and restaurants and the Village. It is truly an uplifting and spiritual spot commemorating the Wilson men and woman who contributed to their nation. For a town the size of Wilson, you wont find a lovelier memorial park. It's worth a visit. More info & picts.
Sunset Grill (on the 12 Mile Creek)
Wilson Boat House (on the harbor)
Wilson Harbor is where the action is. Here you'll find three Yacht Clubs, namely the exclusive Tuscarora Yacht Club (Aerial), the Island Yacht Club, and the Wilson Yacht Club,They all have some type of reciprocation with other Lake Ontario clubs but not open to the public. Nearby you'll find Moyer's Marina and the Sunset Bay Marina with the popular Sunset Grill, which during summer has live music on Wednesday and Sunday afternoon. See Video, Old timers will remember it as Ebinezer's. 2012 saw a new menu for the seafood lover, assorted combination seafood pots. We ordered their "Basic" pot and in two words fresh and tasty. (Clams, mussels, shrimp, Andouille sausage, corn & potatoes ).
The boat slips of the aforementioned get crowded in the summer as they are popular stop for the cruising sailors from the US and Canada. The Harbor area is also covered by another Wi FI "Hot Spot" that covers the Boat House/Boatyard, Clark's Park, the town gazebo and lookout on Ontario St., and portions of the Wilson Pier, Tuscarora Yacht Club and Sunset Island.
Many of the harbor area homes are second homes for folks who also come from around the country and Canada. This is especially true of the exclusive enclave of SUNSET ISLAND on the Harbors north side which is primarily accessible only by boat. (There is a service road through the state park that opens only occasionally)
The Harbors action spot, on the east side, is The Wilson Boat House Restaurant. It is a fun spot and there's usually live music on the outside deck on Friday and Saturday during summer. As for cuisine, it's the town winner. Selections range from Ahi Tuna, to Loin Lamb Chops. Three stars for the new chef. It's more expensive than others in the area with the only negative being, you'll have difficulty hearing those at ones own table. It can get very noisy inside during busy nights and weekends. Be sure to say hi to Bartender Chad. He'll be starting his 11th year in 2012, the establishments longest employee.
In 2011 a new event took place in Wilson. Art students from the Wilson School District, teamed up with local businesses and community organizations to create the Schooling Fish Public Art Installment . The benefactors, business or individuals would in essence contract an artist to create a fish to their liking and to be placed a a point on interest or prominence. The whole story is here and for a printable walking map locating the first eight of these beautiful sculputres, click here.
What might seem like part of the same establishment due to their proximity, is the separate Wilson Boatyard Marina, including a half dozen gift shops. Here is a combination I never saw - wine & ice cream store! Of course the state requires them to partition the two, so a nice wooden lattice fence is in place. The shops sales person, we found, attends to both, running back and forth through a gate in the divider. The wines featured here are all from the Niagara region and cost from $11 to $14 a bottle. After tasting quite a few we settled in on a Red table "Quaker Red Rougon" the close thing to a Chianti Classico I could find. Our second choice was this part of the world's regional favorite, Riesling. Both were from The Becker Farms Vizcarra Vineyards, They ship.
The Marina has available four rooms for rent, and not to be overlooked are the sailing and fishing charters available here. (Did you know the prized lake fish Salmon, that everybody wants to catch is stocked. None are indigenous to the lake anymore and they cant breed without their trek to the sea and back. But that's another story). The Marina also provides a complementary boat ride around the harbor (usually on weekends). The young captains work only for tips only. For Canoe or Kayak Enthusiasts who might want a "do it your self exploration" of the harbor, creek and or costal lakeside, contact Matt Frawley of Canoe & Kayak Rentals at (716) 622-6585 or visit his website, He'll bring the Kayak(s) to you at a local launch site.
If fishing is your thing another alternate site you might want to check out is the Western Lake Ontario fishing guide. You might also check for information on the neighboring town of Olcott's website. A couple guides who hang their hats in Wilson at Daisy Barn during summer are Captain Roger at Papa Smurf Sportfishing, 860-480-3395 and Kelly Bob, 412-271-6636 both would be happy to run you off shore for a nice salmon or two. Still other Wilson guides that comes to mind are Dan Evans. He is at LoneWolfSportfishing.com. and finally Jack Ozyp at 941- 751-9932. All are USCG captains.
Across the parking lot from the Boat House is Clark's Park and pool. It's a popular family spot for cooling off during summer days. Here, barbecues (IE: Christmas in July party) are scheduled through out the summer. and movies (sched) are shown on selected evenings.
Lake vewing lookout
Oh, don't forget a stop at Brownies Drive-In. It's a classic establishment in ots own right all-be-it without waitresses on roller-skates. It's right on Route 18 between at Park St. You cant miss it.
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When I first came to Wilson, I was taken aback with it's lovely and energetic harbor environment. Although live aboard sailors and boaters have little concern, there are few places to stay in the immediate area. Those that are, have been mentioned above. Further east and west along route 18 you'll come across other accommodations. One of these is the Lakeview Motel and Cottages. It's the newest such establishment about 7 miles west of Wilson. They consist of a motel unit and cottages. It's run by Chris Nowacki and her husband.
Fall is a beautiful time as one might expect with the leaves changing. Add to that the harbor hustle and bustle with all the boats being hauled out in preparation for the harbor freeze. It should also be mentioned, the surrounding establishments close mid fall through mid spring with the exception of the Boat House which stays open a bit later.
Due to the limited few eateries in Wilson and in my search for a restaurant of some ambiance, quality food and presentation, one has to drive about 20 minutes from Wilson to Sanborn and the Schimschack's Restaurant. It's built on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment with their tiered dining room giving each table a panoramic view of Niagara County's farm lands, orchards and vineyards below. Be sure to arrive before dark to enjoy the view. Their chef has never disappointed us. Try the rack of lamb.
For additional fine dining, your best bet would be to head west to the artsy town of Lewiston where you'll find numerous fine dining with some ethnic variety. Our favorite restaurant has been Carmelo's Coat of Arms. When last visited, the four of us concluded we would liken Carmelo's to one of the best in all of Western NY. Both the aforementioned are a worthwhile trip from Wilson, but make a reservation. For a listing of all Niagara County's lake region restaurants, click here. Or a fall 2010 listing in the Buffalo News.com.
Finally on food: Everybody knows of Buffalo wings, the indigenous food favorite of the area , well it was here in western NY I was introduced to the regions favorite sandwich - Beef on Weck. It's sold everywhere in Wilson from the upscale to the Mom and Pop restaurants. And speaking of the latter, scattered about the county in neighboring villages are many small "Mom & Pop" restaurants / bars. Aside from a burger, meat loaf and beef on weck, most items are fried, and what I just cant understand, is why so many often serve canned vegetables - even in the summer, in farm country no less, Oh well......
Western New York has much to offer within 20 miles of Wilson, not the least of which is Niagara Falls. Suggestion: Approach the Falls from the north and use Robert Moses Pkwy, This will help you avoid an eyesore of a city.
Aside from The Falls, not far from Wilson is the Niagary County Wine Country Trail, the historic Erie Canal city of Lockport, state parks and forts. And don't forget a stop at the charming and picturesque Niagara River towns of Lewiston noted for with their praiseworthy Jazz Fest, Art Fest, Outdoor Concerts and more. And also Youngstown with it's must see Old Fort Niagara. And finally, to Wilson's east, on the lake, the sport fishing harborage of Olcott.
Excuse my editorializing, but be sure to blindfold your self when passing through the City of Niagara. It is boarded up, seedy, with pot holed streets and down right, war zone looking in appearance and a disgrace of a town associated with one of our country's natural wonders, and highest taxed states. It typifies what years of corruption and voter apathy will do. I'm surprised the Fed hasn't stepped in with some "stimulus" money. As an American, I'm embarrassed. As an ex-NY'er it's one of the reasons I left. In addition, of 1,824 counties in the United States, Erie County (Buffalo) residents pay the 13th highest local property taxes, Niagara County, the second highest! ARTICLE.
Spring 2012 saw the preparation for Nik Wallenda successful tightrope walking the falls in June. It required permission of both NY and Ontario, definitely an occasion to put Niagara Falls back on the map. Wallenda set up a practice area to which the public was invited. I heard first hand, visitors watching the trial event were ticked by Niagara police - on Mothers Day. This and other, lack of enthusiastic practices, of Niagara Falls government for this nationally televised event, lead Wallenda to comment "about his welcome in Niagara Falls" ARTICLE. Eventually officials seemed to get their act together in time for the event, but only time will tell if Niagara's spotlight publicity will be the impetuous needed to become the tourist mecca and city it once was.
- Wilson Homes -
- Historic Cobblestone Homes -
Prior to the Civil War through in the 1800's, in Western NY, many homes were built of cobblestone (as is the Wilson House Inn). The rounded polished rock of Lake Ontario was quite plentiful along lake beaches, and a nuisance to farmers. Many of these homes have been well maintained over the years and quite a few are located here in Wilson. Most of those are on Maple Road and one that we know of, will be soon part of the US Registry of Historic Homes. Two of the homes shown here have historical residents of significance as noted on the left column.
Click here for more info and a NYTimes Article A close-up of the masonry work on home #1 is here.
PS - Coincidences: We live in Sarasota, Fl. I volunteer at their community hospital on Monday and Thursdays. One day a new volunteer joined the Thursday team. The usual conversation developed "where are you from" etc. He told me he was a retired orthodontist from Lockport NY. I said, I'll be spending my summer in Wilson (a few miles away). His reply was that he will be too, on Sunset Island! Small world. (And what if he chose another day to volunteer?). We connected and became good friends. His Sunset Island home is one of those pictured.
- Wilson Harbor Scene -
- Signs Along the Way -
Route 18 with Wilson Harbor Jetty in the distance
It seems I'm always running into folks from Wilson. Believe it or not, another hospital volunteer in my department is from Burt, Wilson's neighboring community, and I've met patients from Wilson! On my very first trip to Wilson, driving by myself, I checked into a motel for the night. The man in front of me mentioned to the clerk he was from Wilson. Understand I hadn't even been there yet, so I inquired of the gentleman if he knew my wife's family. You can probably guess the answer. Oh, I've run into him numerous times since.