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Ontario Protects New Park and Conservation Reserves

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Ontario Protects New Park and Conservation Reserves

McGuinty Government Adds Rare Habitat To Protected Areas

A new provincial park and two new conservation reserves that harbour rare habitat and species at risk have been added to Ontario's system of parks and protected areas.

  • The St. Williams Conservation Reserve lies southwest of the Town of Simcoe in southern Ontario. It includes oak savannah habitat, one of the most threatened habitats in North America, where species such as the rare wild lupine and the eastern hog-nosed snake are found.
  • The Bickford Oak Woods Conservation Reserve in the Township of St. Clair near Sarnia protects the largest upland/lowland forest in Ontario on a plain of heavy clay soil known as the St. Clair Clay Plain and includes the only stand of swamp cottonwood trees known in Canada.
  • Goose Island Provincial Park on Goose Island in Rainy Lake northeast of Fort Frances provides habitat for the bald eagle, an endangered species.

The St. Williams land was formerly part of a provincial tree nursery known as the St. Williams Forest Station, now owned by ForestCare Corp, which is co-hosting celebrations today to mark the 100th anniversary of the forest station with the Port Rowan/South Walsingham Heritage Association and the St. Williams Interpretive Centre.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario's system of parks and protected areas includes 330 provincial parks and 294 conservation reserves.
  • The St. Williams Forest Station in Norfolk County, the first tree nursery in Canada, was established by the province in 1908 to grow seedlings to reforest southern Ontario after deforestation by settlers led to drought, erosion, windstorms and floods.
  • Minor adjustments to the boundaries of 12 existing parks and conservation reserves will add another 202 hectares to the parks and protected areas system, which currently totals 9.4 million hectares.

Background Information

Additional Resources


“Expanding our parks and protected areas plays a pivotal role in conserving the biodiversity that makes our province truly unique.”

Donna Cansfield

Minister of Natural Resources

“We are delighted to help host a celebration of the St. Williams Forest Station. We recognize the importance of the station to people in this community and its historical and continuing economic role in the County.”

Jim Asselstine

Managing Director, ForestCare Corp.

“The dynamic partnership the Nature Conservancy of Canada shares with the Government of Ontario has delivered and continues to deliver the long-term conservation of many of the province’s unique natural treasures.”

Donna Stewart

Regional Vice President, Nature Conservancy of Canada



Environment and Energy