Whaleback Woodland Reserve

The Friends of the Carp Hills will be assisting MMLT by providing stewardship and monitoring of the Reserve.

From the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust’s April 2018 Newsletter:


At 15.7 acres it is Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust’s (MMLT) smallest land acquisition to date, but the Whaleback Woodland Reserve is hugely important to the protection of the Carp Hills. Strategically located adjacent to over 200 acres of conservation forest woodlands owned by the City of Ottawa, it increases the area of protected interior forest and wetlands in this important designated candidate Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI).  MMLT hopes that the landowner’s donation will encourage other landowners who appreciate the natural landscape in the Carp Hills to consider long term protection options for their ecologically sensitive lands.

For over forty years property owner Carolyn Canfield has been interested in permanent conservation of important ecological lands, particularly those facing mounting recreational and residential pressures. Her devotion to pursue this dream has made it possible that the sensitive and fragile features of this property will now be conserved in perpetuity, and the ecological value of the Carp Ridge enhanced.

While monitoring and scientific research will continue on this property, its small size, topography, and strategic location warrant the highest level of conservation protection, with no public access permitted. MMLT encourages public access and education on designated larger properties such as High Lonesome and Blueberry Mountain, where trails and basic facilities are available.

The Carp Hills comprise almost 10,000 acres of environmentally significant forests, wetlands, and rock barren uplands in the rural northwest of the City of Ottawa. This largely undeveloped area supports a Canadian Shield ecosystem similar to that found in Gatineau Park and parts of Algonquin Park. It sustains thousands of acres of Provincially Significant Wetlands and provides habitat for several species at risk, including Blanding’s Turtles and Western Chorus Frogs.
Exposed Precambrian Shield sculpted by glaciers explains the name “whaleback”, which is a colloquial term given to “a bedrock knoll smoothed and rounded on all sides by a glacier.”  The Reserve has areas of rock barren whalebacks, a mixed deciduous and conifer forest, a small wetland, and ephemeral ponds suitable for salamanders.  Western Chorus Frogs have been heard on the property.

The Carp Hills are divided into many large, undeveloped lots.  The City of Ottawa owns about 2,200 acres or one fifth of the area, with the remainder in private hands.   MMLT is partnered with the Friends of the Carp Hills who share the goal of connecting the patchwork of City-owned land parcels into a contiguous, protected area.  The Friends will serve as stewards of the Reserve, assisting MMLT in monitoring the property.
MMLT has established the Carp Hills Opportunity Fund to support the costs associated with land donations and conservation easements.  Owners of ecologically significant land interested in long-term protection of their properties should contact MMLT to discuss their options.
For 15 years, MMLT has been working with local landowners, such as Carolyn Canfield, who love their land and wish to have it conserved for the benefit of future generations. With this donation, MMLT now protects a total of seven properties encompassing over 2,500 acres in a catchment area that runs from the Carp Hills to the Addington Highlands.