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Lyal Island Nature Reserve

The island covers 305 hectares of pristine, undeveloped habitat within the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula.

Lyal Island Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar


Imagine your favourite sections of the upper Saugeen Bruce Peninsula without any roads or buildings and you will have a good picture of Lyal Island.

The island spans 306 hectares (757 acres) and is located in Lake Huron, roughly two kilometres off the west shore of the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula across from Stokes Bay. It is completely undeveloped, with the exception of an automatic navigation light on the island’s west shore.

Pitcher Plant, Lyal Island Nature Reserve © Emma Horrigan


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 Saugeen 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.

Monarch on Milkweed, Lyal Island Nature Reserve © Maria Papoulias


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 Saugeen 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.

Massasauga, Lyal Island Nature Reserve © Stephanie Muckle


The nature 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 Nature Reserve © Maria Papoulias

“Given the increased development pressure and habitat fragmentation on the mainland, this protected landscape provides essential habitat…”

– Smera Sukumar, Conservation Science and Stewardship Director

Lyal Island Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar


Lyal Island is located in Stokes Bay approximately two kilometres from shore on the Lake Huron side of the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula. The nature reserve property can only be accessed by boat and there are no trails.

Reaching this property is dangerous, currents from the mainland to the island are strong and difficult to navigate. If you are interested in learning more about the nature reserve, please contact Ontario Nature.

View Lyal Island Nature Reserve in a larger map.

Lyal Island Nature Reserve © Thomas Emptage

Lyal Island © Thomas Emptage
Lyal Island Nature Reserve