Garden Island is a private wilderness, untouched since 1831 when the Hudson Bay Co fur-trading post was abandoned. It is a Natural Reserve, and designated as a Provincially Significant Wetland, overseen by the Ministry of Natural Resources and managed by an on-site warden.
The island and its environs host an unusual array of flora, fauna and fungi due to the fact that it is a deciduous woodland. Spring flooding and seasonal wetlands make for perfect conditions for many species.
The ancient veteran trees provide nesting sites for various birds with breeding pairs of osprey & bald eagles. At 70 acres, there are parts of the island which have never been explored, so great care must be taken when venturing inland – you simply have no idea what you will find. As well as permanent resident mammals like chipmunk, otter, mink & red squirrel, we are visited by moose, black bear and wolves.
Garden Island is being managed as a wildlife sanctuary with a long-term woodland management programme under way to ensure that the ancient deciduous trees have the opportunity to maintain their dominance on this island. You will notice evidence of silvicultural activity such as coppiced trees, silt slips and pond development, as well as log piles in various stages of decay; these are not forgotten fire-wood stacks but permanent habitats for amphibians and insects which help contribute to the food chain for reptiles, mammals and birds.
A series of rides – wide open paths – are being prepared to promote plant species which encourage butterflies & insect populations and benefit ground nesting animals. You are most welcome to walk along these – your footfall will help limit encroachment of plants and keep the paths clear.
If you do see any interesting species, please make a note of them, ideally with photographs and a record of when and where you saw them, so we can add them to our compiled list of Garden Island inhabitants and visitors.
You are fully encouraged to explore, however, please remember we are all visitors to the island so do try to disturb as little as possible.