Nature Conservancy Canada Wetland Restoration Project on Pelee Island large open farm field with trucks.

More and more we find ourselves seeking solace by returning to nature. Witnessing the Wetland Restoration Project on Pelee Island take place has been a gift to us. One we wanted to share with you.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is Canada’s leading national land conservation organization. A private, non-profit organization, they partner with individuals, corporations, foundations, Indigenous communities and other non-profit organizations and governments at all levels to protect our most important natural treasures — the natural areas that sustain Canada’s plants and wildlife. Over the next three years, the NCC will take on creating their largest wetland to date. We’re excited to say that it is happening on Pelee Island.

Nature Conservancy Canada Wetland Restoration Project on Pelee Island digging clay berm

Wetland Plans

A massive 25-hectare (62-acre) wetland surrounded by a 1.6km clay berm including visitor viewing blinds, parking, trails and a later planned boardwalk is taking place in the area of Browns and Henderson roads near the middle of the island. The trail system will connect with the existing Brown’s Road trail. Originally a marsh that was drained and kept dry with clay tile for farming and is now being restored to its original state.

Wild Side

Crayfish burrow in the wetland berm.
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“The natural clay found on Pelee Island is great for grape growing and berm making,” shares Jill Crosthwaite, NCC Coordinator, Conservation Biology, Southwestern Ontario subregion. “We’ve moved some of the existing clay to the berm. This allows for creating different depths of water levels. It will help support various habitats and wildlife. Hopefully even for turtles to be able to winter here.”

The property will have ponds up against the forest canopy to welcome a vibrant salamander population. You may be familiar with the Small Mouthed Salamander as our Cabernet Franc VQA pays homage to it.

“They are here and waiting,” says Crosthwaite. “There are crayfish based on the evidence of their burrowing chimneys. Many plants are also ready to welcome back their natural habitat.”

Go With the Flow

Old clay tile from former farm field on restored wetlands
NCC wetland agri-drain

The site also includes rock piles to create spill ways to flow water down into the existing canal and an “agri-drain”. These measures will enable the wetland to flow and control potential flooding.

It’s not only the wildlife that will be welcomed back, the plants will also return. Native tree species include cottonwood, hackberry, common hoptree and sugar maple. Unique flora and fauna will abound too such as Short’s Astor which is found only in extreme southwest Ontario.

Here at Pelee Island Winery, we’re looking forward to being able to volunteer for seed collection events and to announce a little something we’ve got planned for early 2021. No, we’re not telling yet other than to say you’ll be able to be a part of this incredible project.

Jill Crosthwaite with the NCC restored wetlands on Pelee Island
Jill Crosthwaite, NCC

What we will share are these Pelee Island nature facts from the NCC:

Location: Island in Lake Erie, 32 km south of the Ontario mainland
Habitat type: Alvars, forests, restored wetlands, dunes and beaches
Size: 4,121 hectares (10,183 acres) 

Species: Gray fox, yellow-breasted chat, blue ash, Lake Erie watersnake, blue racer, wood duck, great blue heron, eastern kingbird, purple martin, blue-headed vireo

Stayed tuned for all details of the NCC’s wetland restoration on Pelee Island in 2021 and until then, get out in nature when you can.


More information about the NCC’s wetland restoration project on Pelee Island.

Pssttt… Don’t forget while you’re here to sign up for our Birthday Club and receive a $20 Gift Voucher for your Birthday!