Imagine your favourite sections of the upper Bruce Peninsula without any roads or buildings and you will have a good picture of Lyal Island. The island covers 305 hectares and is located in Lake Huron, roughly two kilometers off the west shore of the Bruce Peninsula across from Stokes Bay. It is completely undeveloped, with the exception of an automatic navigation light on the island’s west shore.
Lyal Island is designated as a provincial Life Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). It is a microcosm of the natural features that are representative of the coastal portions of the Bruce Peninsula’s Lake Huron side. Included in these features are dolostone rockland forests and wetlands, rich dry and wet meadows and groves, dolostone pavements, coastal shoreline shingle ridges and a single peatland pond.
Exposure of Lyal Island to the forces of Lake Huron over the centuries has led to the development of shingle beaches, which occur as a series of parallel ridges that extend several hundred metres inland. The Guelph formation dolostone inland is exposed as flat to gently swelling pavements. This bedrock provides habitat for the many coastal herbs that are distinctive to the Bruce Peninsula.
Surrounding the pond on the island’s southern portion is a quaking fibric peat mat which supports distinctly boreal vegetation occurring nowhere else on the island.
The reserve is named in honour of Dr. John Agnos and Mr. Asa Danard. Dr. Agnos was a passionate naturalist and well-respected physician who wished to establish a nature reserve with Ontario Nature but died tragically before his dream was realized.
His sisters, Georgia Agnos Velos and Mary Agnos Hontos, fulfilled his wishes by making significant financial contributions towards the island’s purchase. Asa Danard had owned the property since 1944, until its purchase by the Nature Conservancy of Canada on behalf of Ontario Nature in 1996. Danard also made a significant financial contribution to protect the island as a nature reserve.
Lyal Island is located in Stokes Bay approximately two kilometers from shore on the Lake Huron side of the Bruce Peninsula. The reserve can only be accessed by boat and there are no trails.
View Lyal Island Nature Reserve in a larger map.