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Location/ Map
Background And History
Interpretive Trail System

Forest Habitat
Profile Of A Remarkable Man's Achievement
Visiting A Natural Area

Information obtained from the West Elgin Nature Club, and compiled by Future Stewards Program with the Elgin Stewardship Council.


Joe's Bush is located in Aldborough Township in Elgin County. You can find it by going north from Highway #3 onto Furnival Road. Turn left from Furnival Road onto Silver Clay Line and look for signs for Joe's Bush. It is on the south side of Silver Clay Line. The 911 number is 21597.
The lot is publicly owned. There is a small parking lot on site and three different trails that you can take to explore the property.


1944 Mr. Joseph E. Schmid bought 50 acres of land that is known today as Joe's Bush.

1940-1960 Joe cleaned the land, planted and pruned thousands of trees.

1986 Mr. Schmid donated the land to the village of Rodney. It was decided that the land would be developed into a nature preserve for the enjoyment of the whole community.

1986 The village of Rodney and the Aldborough Township Council decided to create a memorial public forest. It was the first step toward the conservation of the local Carolinian forest.

1994 West Elgin Nature Club youth members, Mike Reive and Janet Prieksaitis, developed an interpretive trail for the forest. It was intended to promote public use of the area.


The 3 trails in Joe's Bush include;
  • Directional arrows
  • Information stations
  • Identification plates/ signs
  • A trail guide
  • A common tree guide

These trails were designed to promote public awareness of the area and to increase an appreciation for nature.
The property is dominated by the vast Carolinian forest habitat. The site offers you a choice of three different, well-marked trails. Each trail has marked the various Carolinian forest species that you can find at Joe's Bush. There is a picnic area with tables available for day-use. There are no washroom facilities available on site.


Joe's Bush is fifty acres of forested land. The front part of the forest is an excellent example of a Carolinian forest. It comprises approximately 40 percent of the total forested area. About 60 percent of Joe's Bush is plantation and is found toward the back of the forest.

Woodland areas are important habitat for a variety of species including birds, reptiles, insects, amphibians and mammals. A habitat is where all plants and animals live; it is their home area.
Animal homes in the forest can be large old hollow trees known as den trees, or standing dead trees called snag trees. These trees are very important within the forest ecosystem because animals like raccoons and flying squirrels make their nests in den trees, while birds like woodpeckers nest in snag trees.

Many nut producing trees (mast trees) such as oak, beech and hickory supply food for the woodland creatures. Without these trees in the forest the animals would either starve or move to another forest that contained these trees.

Coniferous trees or "evergreens" are important because they are used as shelter and cover from the snow, wind and rain by many forest animals.

Even dead trees have a place in the forest since all of the dead logs and leaves on the forest floor provide habitat for insects and amphibians, which in turn are food for other animals.

In Joe's Bush there are both coniferous (has cones) and deciduous trees. There are a variety of native and non-native coniferous species found mainly in the plantation. In the plantation under story there are some deciduous trees and bushes. Many of the deciduous trees are found at the front of the site in the Carolinian forest.


Carolinian Canada is one of Canada's most significant landscapes. Often known as the "banana belt", this area supports an amazing diversity of wildlife and natural habitats. The area has a relatively warm climate, providing suitable habitat for many species that are not found anywhere else in Canada. The area has the warmest average temperatures and the longest frost-free seasons in Ontario. This results in relatively mild winters compared to the rest of Ontario. The Carolinian forest reaches its northern most limit in Southern Ontario.

Much of Ontario's rare and endangered species can be found nestled away in the last remaining acres of the Carolinian Forest. Species that can be seen here include trees such as Sassafras, the Tulip Tree, Blue Ash, Flowering Dogwood, Chestnut, Hop Tree, Paw Paw, Black Gum, Cucumber Tree and the Kentucky Coffee Tree. The Green Dragon, the Creeping Fragile Fern, Swamp Rose Mallow, Lizard's Tail, Yellow Mandarin, Virginia Bluebells and Oswego Tea are a few of Canada's rare plants existing now only within the Carolinian Zone. Bird species, such as, the Acadian Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Carolina Wren and the Prothonotary Warbler can be found here. Some mammals are restricted to this area, these include the Badger, Eastern Mole, the Southern Flying Squirrel and the Opossum.

Unfortunately this life zone is one of the most threatened landscapes in Ontario, covering less than 1% of Canada, but yet it is home to more rare plants and animals than any other region in the country. This is mainly because the species found here are at the northern most point of their habitat. As well, these species live in developed and settled landscapes, resulting in a minimum amount of habitat remaining. It is found within an extremely busy corridor between Windsor and Toronto. Urbanization, agriculture and industry have destroyed a large portion of this beautiful forest. Because of this the Canadian Carolinian Forest has been a focus for conservation and stewardship.

If you would like to learn more about the Carolinian Life Zone, or have any questions please do not hesitate to contact:

TELE: 519-873-4631


Here are some wildlife species you might see
in the forest habitat in Joe's Bush:


American Woodcock Common Grackle Veery
Downy Woodpecker Canada Warbler Mourning Dove
Eastern Kingbird Ovenbird Flicker
Chickadee Yellow Warbler Cardinal
American Crow Redstart Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing Great Horned Owl Wild Turkey
American Goldfinch Pileated Woodpecker Red-tailed Hawk
Song Sparrow Blue Jay Sharp-shinned Hawk
Rufous-sided Towhee American Robin Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Eastern Screech Owl Wood Thrush Northern Oriole
Hairy Woodpecker Ruffed Grouse Scarlet Tanager
Junco Rose-breasted Grosbeak  
Nuthatch Kestrel  
European Starling Indigo Bunting  


Eastern Cottontail Rabbit Red Squirrel
Little Brown Bat Opossum
Red Fox " Raccoon Skunk
Gray Squirrel Groundhog
Coyote American Badger
White-tailed Deer  


American Toad Milk Snake
Wood Frog Little Brown Snake
Tree Frog Common Garter
Green Frog Black Rat Snake
Eastern Redback Salamander Wood Satyr
Blue-spotted Salamander  


Mosquitoes Millipedes
Yellow Jackets Wasps
Bumble Bee Centipedes


May-apple Deciduous:
Bloodroot Sugar Maple
Jack-in-the-pulpit Silver Maple
Canada Anemone Red Maple
Trout Lily (yellow) Manitoba Maple
Wild Columbine Norway Maple (non-native)
Canada Violet Black Cherry
Blue Violet White Oak
Yellow Violet Red Oak
White Violet White Ash
Solomon's Seal Black Ash
Wild Bergamot Tulip
White Trillium Bitternut Hickory
Red Trillium Shagbark Hickory
False Solomon's Seal Butternut
Wild Lily-of-the-Valley Eastern Cottonwood
Foam Flower Black Walnut
Daisy Fleabane American Beech
Wild Geranium Trembling Aspen
Large-leaved Aster White Birch
Blue Cohosh Yellow Birch
Helleborine Ironwood
False Nettle Basswood
Poison Ivy  
Ostrich Fern Coniferous:
Christmas Fern Eastern White Pine
Maidenhair Fern White Cedar
Lady's Fern Red Pine
Evergreen Woodfern White Spruce
New York Fern European Larch
Sensitive Fern Northern White Spruce
Royal Fern Eastern Hemlock
Interrupted Fern Balsam Fir
Cinnamon Fern  
Grape Ternate Fern  
Rattlesnake Fern  
Witch Hazel  
Red Elderberry  
Wild Grape  
Staghorn Sumac  
Domestic Apple  
Flowering Dogwood  


Joe Schmid was born in Bavaria, Germany in August of 1904. He emigrated to Canada with $1.50 in his wallet, the clothes on his back and a dream to settle in an expansive land where he could enjoy natural beauty. Joe was sponsored by his uncle Mr. E. J Schmid, a Rodney jeweler. Joe, a trained jeweler himself, eventually took over his uncle's shop and operated a business in the Village of Rodney from 1926 to 1968. Joe was a highly skilled jeweler and a successful businessman. His store rivaled any in London and numbered among his customers many clients from Detroit and a large area surrounding Rodney. He often worked with his older brother Louis, also a jeweler, in Thamesville. Joe married Jean Wiley, a West Lorne teacher, in 1936. Joe and Jean have one son, Ted, who resides in the family home in Rodney.

This quiet, gentle man collected and restored old wall clocks and was a keen gardener in his younger years. But most of all, Joe had a passion for land and conservation. Like many Western Europeans, Joe recalled the value of land and the difficulty citizens had in attaining ownership of it. In the early 1940's, Joe purchased several parcels ranging from 50 to 100 acres. They were located in Aldborough Township on Lot 3, Concession 12; Lot 21, Concession 11; Lot 11, Concession 9; and Lot 13 Concession 8. He reforested three of these parcels at a time when forests were logged and cleared for agricultural purposes.

Beginning in the mid 1940's Joe made two trips a year to the provincial tree nursery in St. Williams. In an aging vehicle Joe would return to Rodney weighted down with 7,000 to 8,000 seedling trees. As soon as the trees were secured, a crew of local workers hired by Joe, cleared by hand the area, prepared the rows and planted the trees.

Joe acquired the first 50 acre property in 1944. This parcel became his favourite. It has since been named "Joe's Bush". Located on Lot 3, Concession 12, Aldborough Township, this gently rolling 50 acre parcel was partially forested and traversed by a small creek. While Joe had a love of coniferous forests reminiscent of the Black Forest Region of his homeland, he preserved the native Carolinian species including, Tulip, Black Cherry, Sassafras, Black Walnut, Eastern Flowering Dogwood, and Yellow Birch.

Over the next two decades Joe proceeded to reforest the open area with Red Pine, White Pine, Norway Spruce, White Spruce and European Larch. Hemlock, Balsam Fir, Red Oak, White Ash, Red Maple, and Silver Maple were added to the forest as these species became available at the nursery. Joe nurtured this forest with his trademark meticulous attention to detail. He spent countless hours replanting, thinning and pruning the trees. Later as his forest began growing Joe groomed trails throughout for his own pleasure and that of his guests. Joe was a Charter member of the Rodney Horticultural Society, West Elgin Nature Club and Rodney Kiwanis Club. Many community residents enjoyed summer meetings, excursions, picnics and other outings in this pristine wooded area. "All my spare time, I spent maintaining the lane to make sure other people come here and walk."

Until he sold the jewelry business in 1968, these forests were a hobby. Retirement permitted Joe to dedicate all his time to making his dream come alive in the three reforested parcels he owned. "I would come out here when I had worries or things on my mine. It's hard to explain how relaxing it is."

In 1985, Joe approached Mr. Charles I Black, Reeve of Rodney and expressed a desire to transfer the property on Lot 3, Concession 12 to the Village of Rodney for use as a public park. What made this proposal interesting, is the fact that the property was situated well outside the boundaries of the Village. His prime wish was to "have the property remain in its natural state for passive recreational purposes." "Coming from crowded Europe to Canada with wide open country, I want to show my appreciation for all that Canada has done for me." With these words, Joe donated this parcel of land that Mr. Black subsequently set up under "a perpetual undertaking clause" which ensured that the forest would remain intact in perpetuity.


You want to enjoy your nature experience
  • long sleeves
  • long pants
  • a hat
  • shoes and socks
  • sun screen and bug spray
Many species make this area their home don't litter
  • take only pictures
  • don't disturb anything
  • don't pick flowers
  • if you observe something place it back where you found it
You could trample wildlife and plants don't damage vegetation
  • don't disturb dead wood, it is decaying
  • stay away from leaflets three, it is poison ivy
  • minimize human impact on the area

Your natural area is important to you the quieter you are, the more you will see

  • leave everything in its natural setting
  • come back and visit again



West Elgin Nature Club
P.O.Box 7
West Lorne ON
N0L 2P0