Crystal Beach Amusement Park
Crystal Beach was founded as a religious assembly ground “for the spiritual and mental uplift of the common people”. In 1890 the area was named Crystal Beach after the crystal-like quality of the sandy beach and clear water of Lake Erie and John Rebstock set out to create an amusement park and resort.
From 1888 until 1989 Crystal Beach was home to The Crystal Beach Amusement Park. The property was once a health spa whose buildings were sited near and on a natural sand dune fifty feet high and 1,200 feet long parallel to the shore. Part of the dune was excavated to open up land for the spa.
In 1888, the spa was replaced by the amusement park. Situated across from Buffalo, New York, Crystal Beach was a huge tourist draw with thousands of passengers arriving daily from the American side.
By the late 1920’s the resort included a break wall, dance hall and a roller coaster ride, and was billed as the largest operation when it opened. Over the years, the resort was expanded to include the Crystal Ballroom, additional amusement rides, a fun house, a midway along Derby Road and a miniature railway.
At its peak in the 1940s and early 1950s, the park had about 20,000 visitors daily throughout the summer, from Victoria Day through Labour Day.
Boat service connected Buffalo with the park until 1956. Initially, in the 1890s, a ferry service operated small boats, with a capacity of 500 to 1200. Later, the main passenger vessels used for these journeys were the Canadiana and, until 1929, the Americana, each of which could carry 3,000 passengers per trip.
Ballrooms and bathhouses made up the waterfront with Big Bands playing into the wee hours of the morning. Known for its stomach churning roller coasters, the park was a landmark in the area for over 100 years.
In 1989 the park was sold to make way for a gated community and many of the rides were sold off to other amusement parks in Canada and the U.S.
The Bay Beach property was owned by the Rebstock Family, and developed as a unique cottage enclave, structured around the beach and communal courtyards. It was used for recreational and commercial uses, and included various iterations of rental units (up to 52), a restaurant (the Lobster House), dance hall, snack bar and an entrance to the beach where admission was charged.
The Bay Beach property remained under the ownership of the Rebstock Family until it was sold to the Town in 2001.