Meilleurs Bay

Meilleurs Bay Laura Robson

Reilly Bird Nature Reserve

Ontario Nature's newest reserve has been named after the generous man who donated it – Reilly Bird. This 27.5-hectare reserve is a stunning parcel of mixed hardwood forest situated along the upper Ottawa River, just northwest of the town of Deep River.

The reserve protects nearly half of the Meilleurs Bay shoreline, an Ottawa River inlet, which provides excellent habitat for basking turtles and spawning fish. A steep esker left over from the glaciation of the Ottawa Valley rises up from the creek bed and overlooks the river. Eskers are raised, meandering deposits of sand and gravel that are remnants of rivers that flowed through or under glaciers during the last glaciation. A mature stand of large-toothed aspen, red maple, white pine, balsam fir, paper birch and striped maple rests atop this sandy ridge providing perfect habitat for birds like the hermit thrush, brown creeper and Nashville warbler.

BeeHuey Creek, a cold water stream that supports brook trout, runs through the reserve. Moss covered cedars and yellow birch hug the sandy shoreline of Huey Creek and are frequented by belted kingfishers and ruffed grouse. Great blue herons can be spotted fishing in Meilleurs Bay. Two species of orchids, the dwarf rattlesnake-plantain and broad-lipped twayblade, grow in the shade of the cedar groves.

Reilly Bird emigrated from the United Kingdom to Canada in 1967 to work at the Atomic Energy of Canada plant in Chalk River. He quickly fell in love with eastern Ontario’s vast wilderness, setting out to canoe, backpack and explore it at every opportunity. The geological anomaly of ‘Lot 36’, as the reserve is fondly known to Mr. Bird, was purchased as a way to maintain a quiet bit of wilderness for these solo adventures. But as time passed he felt that he wanted to give something back to Canada. In 1992, Mr. Bird asked Ontario Nature to protect Lot 36 in perpetuity after his passing. Later, feeling anxious to secure the property, Mr. Bird expedited the transfer. Ontario Nature has benefited greatly from his vast knowledge about the region’s natural heritage.  

Ontario Nature is grateful to Mr. Bird for his generous donation and proud to protect a piece of the Algonquin to Adirondack corridor.

TDWe are working to create a trail system through the reserve so visitors can explore this beautiful piece of land. This trail creation has been generously funded by TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

Click here for a PDF with information on the Reilly Bird Nature Reserve.


From the town of Deep River, follow Highway 17 northwest towards Rolphton. Approximately 14 kilometres from Deep River, Meilleurs Bay will appear on the left or south side of the road. The reserve stretches to the south of the highway and includes a portion of Meilleurs Bay. Just west of the bay is a driveway with parking space for several vehicles.

View Reilly Bird Nature Reserve in a larger map


Photos of the Nature Reserve


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