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H.N. Crossley Nature Reserve

Canadian Shield with granite outcroppings and ridges shapes the elongated bog.

H.N. Crossley Nature Reserve Bog © John Hassell


Bruce Pond is a typical “eyed” bog, characterized by a moat-like zone of water around the outer edge; tree and shrub zones; an open sphagnum mat with pitcher plants, sundews and orchids; and open water in the middle. The setting for this is classic Canadian Shield with granite outcroppings and ridges shaping the elongated bog. The ground rises sharply away from the bog, except at the upper end where it drains into an area of mostly drowned larch and beaver meadows.

In 1981, Miriam Burgess donated 19 hectares (48 acres) of wetland, called Bruce Pond, to Ontario Nature to protect its bog, prized flowers and animals that captivated her during her youth. The nature reserve was named in honour of Burgess’s father, H.N. Crossley, who had purchased the family’s 400-hectare Sandy Bay farm on Lake Rosseau in 1890.

Bog lookout, H.N. Crossley Nature Reserve © Zane Davies

Plants and Animals

Burgess, who passed away in 1987 in her 95th year, wrote of seeing the provincially rare white fringed orchid and round-leaved orchid on Beaver Pond. Another uncommon species found on the property is Virginia meadow-beauty, a plant generally found along the coastal plain of the Atlantic ocean south from Nova Scotia. Plants of this affinity make their limited and peculiar appearances in Ontario in the Muskoka and Parry Sound regions.

An abandoned beaver lodge is heavily overgrown and the beaver meadows themselves are now suitable for moose.

Rose pogonia orchid © Maria Papoulias


A sign marking the nature reserve property can be seen on the right (south) side of Burgess Road. A trail into the nature reserve begins just east of the open wetland area (which can be seen from the road) and leads to an observation platform that gives you a fantastic view of the nature reserve.

The Muskoka Field Naturalists are the official stewards of the H.N. Crossley Nature Reserve. Oastler Lake Provincial Park, Blackstone Harbour Provincial Park, and O’Donnell Point Provincial Nature Reserve are all nearby.

We do not charge a fee for entrance and there are no operating hours on any of our nature reserves. Properties are monitored by volunteer stewards. We rely on visitors to be safe, minimize their impact on nature and be respectful of others. For more information about visiting the nature reserves, please read our Permitted Activities Policy.

We welcome donations to support this nature reserve and our system of 26 nature reserves.

Ontario Nature Staff, winter visit © Christine Ambre

“The trail allows nature lovers of all abilities who visit H.N. Crossley to be immersed in a truly unique wilderness experience.”

– Smera Sukumar, Conservation Science and Stewardship Director

Accessible Trail

H.N. Crossley Nature Reserve now features a 130-metre wheelchair-accessible trail that gives visitors a chance to explore a typical “eyed” bog: a landscape featuring the open-water “pupil” of Bruce Pond surrounded by a sphagnum mat “iris.” Made of crushed gravel, the trail leads to an accessible lookout platform over the bog and the surrounding Provincially Significant Wetland.

The wheelchair-accessible trail is the third such trail at an Ontario Nature reserve, the others being at the Petrel Point and Cawthra Mulock nature reserves.

Establishing the new trail was made possible through the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

Accessible Trail, H.N. Crossley Nature Reserve © John Hassell


Take Highway 632 south from the town of Rosseau. Approximately eight kilometres south of Rosseau, take a left onto Burgess Road. The reserve is located approximately three kilometres down this road, on the south (right) side just past Walkers Road on the left.

View H. N. Crossley Nature Reserve in a larger map.

Four-toed salamander © Stephanie Muckle

© Maria Papoulias
H.N. Crossley