The Quarry Bay Nature Reserve protects 391 hectares of significant alvar habitat on the southwestern shore of Manitoulin Island. Ontario Nature’s acquisition of Quarry Bay in 1999 was part of the largest conservation land purchase in Ontario, in which a total of 18 kilometers of windswept coast and 6,000 hectares of backcountry were protected by Ontario Nature, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Ontario Parks.
Plants and Animals
The alvars along this coast are home to a unique assemblage of plants, lichens and mosses, many of which are vulnerable, threatened or of limited distribution. The bright yellow lakeside daisy (Hymenoxys herbacea), found only at about a dozen stations around the Great Lakes, is the most notable. The alvar coast likely contains the majority of this wildflower’s range.
Quarry Bay Nature Reserve is made up primarily of treed alvar, interspersed with swamps and small lakes. There are also, large expanses of open alvar – limestone barrens with little or no soil – extending along the shores of Lake Huron.
These outstanding alvar communities are some of the best remaining alvar sites in the world. The area from Quarry Bay to Christina Bay forms the “alvar coast” – an area of exposed bedrock sloping into Lake Huron with coastal meadow marshes at the heads of bays and inlets.
The Quarry Bay Nature Reserve is located on the remote southwestern shore of Manitoulin Island and is difficult to access. If you are interested in learning more about the reserve, please contact Ontario Nature.