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Stewartville Swamp Nature Reserve

An incredible number and variety of orchids grow in the cool mossy darkness beneath the big cedar trees.

Showy lady's slippers, Stewartville Swamp Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar


In 1985, despite the best efforts of Arnprior naturalist Michael Runtz, it looked as though loggers would destroy the Stewartville Swamp for its big cedars.

Fortunately Runtz didn’t give up and was able to meet Rosamond Gillies, who donated nearly three-quarters of the property’s cost. Other donors quickly pledged the balance and, in August 1985, the funds were turned over to Ontario Nature to purchase the 8-hectare (21-acre) property.

Trillium, Stewartville Swamp Nature Reserve © JG_D70s

Plants and Animals

Most of the Stewartville Swamp Nature Reserve is a low, very wet, mixed forest of cedar, yellow birch, balsam fir, white birch and black ash. An incredible number and variety of orchids grow in the cool mossy darkness beneath the big cedar trees, especially in the two hectares at the south end of the property.

None of the orchids that grow at Stewartville Swamp Nature Reserve are particularly rare – it is their sheer abundance and variety that makes the swamp so special. For example, surveys have found close to a thousand heart-leafed twayblades and about 300 to 500 dwarf rattlesnake plantains. The 16 other species of orchids growing at Stewartville Swamp include three species of coralroot (early, spotted and striped), showy lady’s slippers, Loesel’s twayblade, northern slender ladies’-tresses and white adder’s mouth.

The nature reserve is habitat for interesting plants, such as translucent Indian pipe, pinesap, one-flowered wintergreen, several species of pyrola and many kinds of ferns.

Showy lady's slipper, Stewartville Swamp Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar

“Inside the deeply shaded cedar forest, the silence is palpable. The thick, mossy carpet acts as an enormous sponge, not only for the water welling out of a small spring in the centre of the swamp, but for any noise that dare enter this sanctuary.”

– Suzanne Kingsmill

One-flowered pyrola © Steph Muckle


Please do not the Stewartville Swamp Nature Reserve at this time. There are no trails on the property and we must protect its sensitive flora and fauna. Many of our other nature reserves do have trails and welcome visitors.

Please contact Ontario Nature if you are interested in knowing more about this property.

Stewartville Swamp wetlands

Stewartville Swamp Nature Reserve