William Bog Nature Reserve. Photo © Mike Bryan

William Bog

The William Bog Nature Reserve

Major Conservation Success at William Bog

In June 2022, TBFN purchased the last large block of privately-owned land in the William Bog.  This 100 acre parcel (Lot 15, Concession 5, Vanguard Avenue) is a key piece in TBFN’s attempts to secure protection of the large wetland right here in the city. 

The new property has been on TBFN’s “wish list” for many years. The property lies on the unopened road allowance for Vanguard Avenue which leads to pressures for development. Particularly concerning to TBFN was a bid to develop a large sand and gravel pit on the north third of the property back in 2004.  The gravel would have been used for the new Harbour Expressway then under construction. At that time the owner clear-cut the trees from the north portion of the property and applied for rezoning to allow development of the gravel pit.  Fortunately, the pit was not approved and no further damage occurred.  The property has beenactively marketed as development land ever since, creating a chronic threat to the wetland.

This property has two distinct habitats. The southern two thirds is treed conifer blog, part of the William Bog Provincially Significant Wetland. The north third is an elevated ridge of sand and gravel deposits covered by upland mixed forest (aspen, birch, some Jack Pine).  Past hydrology studies indicate that most of the water entering the part of William Bog lying south of the Harbour Expressway flows through this sand and gravel area. The sand ridge has great importance to the quality of water entering the wetland and therefore warrants protection. A forest of young Trembling Aspen has now grown up on the previously clear cut ridge (see photos).  This area is home to a different array of bird life and animals than those living in the wetland below.

The new 100 acre block lies to the west of three other 100 acre blocks acquired by TBFN in the past.  Together this block forms the core protection for this wetland area.  TBFN holdings in the bog now total about 440 acres.  New pieces continue to be added.  In June 2022 a small parcel on the east side of the bog was donated to TBFN by the Lukinuk Estate.

History of William Bog Reserve 

The one acre property that was the start of the William Bog reserve was donated in 2002 by the family of the late Max Diamond. Encouraged by this first donation, TBFN embarked on a landowner contact program. As a result, we received a number of additional donations of property. 

In the summer of 2013, TBFN was delighted to receive a donation of 200 acres of Provincially Significant Wetland in the William Bog. The two 100-acre parcels are located north and west of the Parkdale Subdivision in the City of Thunder Bay. The owners of the lots were pleased to donate them to the Naturalist Club in memory of William and Olga Dawd. The lots, together with TBFN’s other holdings in the Bog, will be permanently protected as nature reserves.

The William Bog fen-swamp complex is used by Lakehead University students as a laboratory for natural history and ecology. It supports a wide variety of plants and animals including 14 orchid species (including Yellow Lady’s-slipper, Rose Pogonia, Arethusa, Ragged Fringed Orchid, and TAll White Bog Orchid), three kinds of sundew and a wide variety of butterflies such as Bog Copper, Dorcas Copper and Harris’s Checkerspot and the locally rare Grizzled Skipper butterfly. Seventy three bird species have been observed on the reserve to date.

TBFN land acquistions in the William Bog have been supported by OLTAP, the Ontario Land Trust Assistance Program. Club members have also given generously to help cover the legal and appraisal costs of accepting the donated land.

TBFN thanks the Ontario Land Trust Assistance Program (OLTAP) for its support of this acquisition. OLTAP assists eligible recipients with costs associated with land securement and magagement planning to help conserve Ontario’s biodiversity. OLTAP is an initiative of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance, supported in partnership with Environment Canada.