Naturalists explore fen at Malcolm Kirk

Malcolm Kirk Nature Reserve

Containing one of the most botanically rich segments of the 640-hectare Long Swamp, Malcolm Kirk Nature Reserve flourishes in a relatively isolated spot at the base of the Bruce Peninsula. Long Swamp is a Provincially Significant Wetland and an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI).

Ontario Nature purchased this biologically rich property in 1972 after it had been optioned by our former nature reserves committee member Malcolm Kirk. Initially called Long Swamp Nature Reserve, the reserve was renamed in Kirk's honour to recognize his tireless involvement in protecting natural areas.

Pitcher plants in open fen - Malcolm Kirk Nature Reserve

The western portion of the reserve is an open, minerotrophic fen on a floating sedge mat that extends into a small lake on an adjacent property. Most of the eastern section is wooded, with the wettest part being a combination of sphagnum mats and black spruce stands. One of the few fens of this type on the Bruce Peninsula, the reserve is home to sheep laurel, pale laurel, leatherleaf and small cranberry. The woods support red maple, paper birch, yellow birch, white cedar, balsam fir and hemlock.

The nature reserve supports an outstanding array of orchids, including four species of lady's slipper: yellow, ram's head, showy and stemless. A number of other orchid species can also be found on the reserve, including small, round-leaved, dragon's mouth, grass-pink, northern green and ragged-fringed. The reserve also hosts an abundance of pitcher plants, whose heads have been observed poking above nearly a full meter of snow in the winter.

Ontario Nature’s Malcolm Kirk Nature Reserve is also a good spot to see pine grosbeak, golden-crowned kinglet, black-capped chickadee, pileated woodpecker and many species of warbler.

For more information about the Malcolm Kirk Nature Reserve, please click here.


The property is difficult to find and access, and visitors must cross two other landowners' properties. For instruction on accessing the reserve, please contact Ontario Nature at

Photos of the Nature Reserve


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