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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.


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 reserve.

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.

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


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. Visitors should also look for other interesting plants such as translucent Indian pipe, pinesap, one-flowered wintergreen, several species of pyrola and many kinds of ferns.

Stewartville Swamp wetlands


From the town of Arnprior, follow Russett Drive (Highway 45) west towards Stewartville. Continue on Highway 45, which becomes Flat Rapids Road, past the junction of Highway 63 and through Stewartville. The swamp will be on your right side through the cedar woods approximately one kilometer past Stewartville.

There is no formal trail on the reserve and the swamp is very wet, so visitors will definitely want to wear boots. Pay close attention as many of the smaller orchids are hard to see.

View Stewartville Swamp Nature Reserve in a larger map.

Yellow lady's-slipper orchid © Richard Bonnett

Nodding trilliums at Stewartville Swamp © Maria Papoulias