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Information provided by Catfish Creek Conservation Authority, Ministry of Natural Resources and Carolinian Canada. Compiled by Future Stewards Program with the Elgin Stewardship Council.


The Springwater Forest can be found just 5 km southwest of Aylmer, in Elgin County. It is found on Springwater Road in part of Lots 1-4, Concession V, in the Township of Malahide. There are year round access points to the forest located off Springwater Road, Conservation Line and John Wise Line.

The Springwater Forest is managed by the Catfish Creek Conservation Authority (CCCA). The CCCA was established in 1950 under the Conservation Authorities Act to further the conservation, restoration, development and management of the natural resources within the Catfish Creek and Silver Creek watersheds.

The CCCA is a local community based charitable environmental agency which has jurisdiction over a watershed 490 square kilometers in size, covering five municipalities with a total population of 19,610.

The CCCA currently owns and manages 523 hectares of environmentally significant land in the watershed.

Contact Information:

Catfish Creek Conservation Authority
RR#5, 8079 Springwater Road
Aylmer Ontario
N5H 2R4
Phone: (519) 773-9037
Fax: (519) 765-1489
E-mail: [email protected]


1854 Ira White purchased Springwater Forest
1870 Two gristmills and two saw mills were developed in the area
1893 Fredrick White, Iras grandson, preserved the forest property for nearly 70 years until his death in 1962
1895 A 19.9 hectare White Pine stand originated after a fire erupted in the southwest corner of the forest
1930s Red, White and Scotch Pine were planted by Fredrick White on a 7.3 hectare parcel of open land on the northwest portion of the forest.
1934-45 A blight infected the Chestnut stands forcing Fredrick White to harvest the trees
1963 The Catfish Creek Conservation Authority (CCCA) purchased Springwater Forest, or Whites Bush as it is known locally, from the Fred White Estate
1964 The Jaffa Tract was purchased and added to the forest property.
The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the CCCA entered into a 40 year Forest Agreement. The MNR agreed to manage the property for forestry purposes.
1978 Two, 2 hectare patches of forest were clear-cut by the MNR to encourage the regeneration of desired species such as Red Oak and Black Walnut.
1982 The forest was identified as an ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest)
1990s Commercial harvesting in the forest was discontinued. The property is currently being managed for aesthetic and recreational reasons, as well as for its biological and ecological diversity and significance.
1993 A sign-in-place interpretative trail was developed to increase public awareness for the Carolinian Forest.
1994 The Springwater Forest and Jaffa Tract Interim Operational Land Management Plan was approved.
1998 The Southshore Trail was reconstructed with support from the Friends of the Environment Foundation.
2000 New control gates and signage was constructed.
The Forest Management Agreement between MNR and CCCA signed in 1964 was terminated.
2001 The North Shore Trail was reconstructed thanks to the support of the Aylmer Kinsmen Club and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.


The Springwater Forest consists of 370 acres surrounded predominantly by agricultural practices. The forest supports a variety of habitats including a 14-acre pond. This forest represents one of Canadas most significant landscapes, containing numerous Carolinian species. It has also been referred to as one of the best examples of an Old Growth Forest in Southern Ontario.

The Springwater Forest is used for many recreational and educational activities. Special interest groups, as well as the general public, are welcome to enjoy what the forest has to offer. Visitors have the option to choose from many different trail systems that are accompanied by trail maps. One such trail is the Millennium Trail that winds through a beautiful arboretum filled with Carolinian species such as Red Mulberry and Blue Ash. The relaxing 1km Waterlily Trail winds along a freshwater marsh, over an earthen dam and past a variety of Carolinian plant and animal communities. A Springwater Forest Trail Guide, Bird Checklist, and Waterlily Trail Guide are available upon request.

Day use activities are very popular near the Springwater Forest because of, the 100 metres of sand beach to enjoy by the pond, the fishing dock, the non-motorized boat launch, the playground with playing fields and the beautiful picnic area. There are also wonderful campgrounds available for use. The Springwater Forest area is a good place to experience the natural forest environment.

In addition to the above activities, the Catfish Creek Conservation Authority (CCCA) holds two annual festivals for everyone to enjoy. There is a Maple Syrup Festival in March and a Folk Festival in August. Fishing derbies are held in May and August.


The uniqueness of the Springwater Forest attracts a wide range of visitors each year for education and research opportunities. Students ranging from preschool to university use the forest to learn the importance of forest ecosystems and the significance of conservation.

The CCCA utilizes the forest to deliver a variety of water and land management education programs throughout the year. Special programming is also available which enables organized groups (i.e. scouts, guides, youth groups) to earn their respective badges.

The Jaffa Environmental Education Centre and the CCCA work together to provide students with a Maple Syrup Education Program every March. This program educates elementary school children on various methods of maple syrup production and stresses the importance of sound forest management techniques.

Additional information concerning the types and availability of educational programs can be obtained by contacting the CCCA at (519)773-9037.

ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest)

Springwater Forest has been identified as an Area of Provincial Significance. It has also been classified as an ANSI, which is an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. The forest has obtained this status because there have been eleven rare vascular plants found to be living in Springwater. These plants are:


Autumn Coral Root Rough Leaf Goldenrod
Black Gum Sanicula Canadensis
Carrion Flower Shining Ladies Tresses
Green Violet Soft Hairy Wild Rye
Low Blueberry Swamp White Oak
Poke Milkweed  

As well, there have been three species found to be of provincial significance; Tulip Tree, Eastern Flowering Dogwood, and Yellow Mandarin.

Birds are also a very important component of animal life within the Springwater Forest. One hundred and fifteen species of birds have been recorded within the forest. There are a number of rare birds found in the area. These include; Prothonotary Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Little Blue Heron, Pileated Woodpecker, Barred Owl and LeContes Sparrow. The presence of the Pileated Woodpecker is significant because this bird requires approximately 40 hectares of forest with numerous dead trees (snag trees) for its habitat.


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 such as 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.


Carolinian Canada is one of Canadas 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 Ontarios 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, Lizards Tail, Yellow Mandarin, Virginia Bluebells and Oswego Tea are a few of Canadas 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 a forest habitat in our area:

BIRDS American Woodcock Eastern Screech Owl Great Horned Owl Mourning Dove
  Downy Woodpecker Hairy Woodpecker Pileated Woodpecker Flicker
  Eastern Kingbird Purple Martin Blue Jay Cardinal
  Chickadee Junco American Robin Gray Catbird
  American Crow Nuthatch Wood Thrush Wild Turkey
  Cedar Waxwing European Starling Ruffed Grouse Red-tailed Hawk
  American Goldfinch Common Grackle Rose-breasted Grosbeak  
  Various Sparrow species Various Warbler species    

MAMMALS Eastern Cottontail Rabbit Raccoon White-tailed Deer Skunk
  Various Bat species Gray Squirrel Red Squirrel Groundhog
  Red Fox Coyote Opossum American Badger

American Toad Eastern Redback Salamander Little Brown Snake  
  Wood Frog Blue-spotted Salamander    
  Tree Frog Milk Snake    

INSECTS Mosquitoes Ants Millipedes Centipedes
  Yellow Jackets Termites Wasps  

PLANTS May-apple Ostrich Fern Serviceberry American Beech
  Bloodroot Christmas Fern Sugar Maple Trembling Aspen
    Jack-in-the-Pulpit   Maidenhair Fern   Silver Maple   White Birch
    Canada Anemone   Ladys Fern   Red Maple   White Cedar
    Trout Lily   Poison Ivy   Red Oak   Ironwood
    Wild Columbine   Honeysuckle   White Oak   White Elm
    Canada Violet   Witch Hazel   Black Cherry   Basswood
    Solomons Seal   Common Elder   White Ash   Eastern White Pine
    Wild Bergamot   Hawthorn   Black Ash   Blue Beech
    White Trillium   Wild Grape   Bitternut Hickory   Tulip
    Red Trillium   Spicebush   Shagbark Hickory   Hackberry
    False Solomons Seal   Nannyberry   Eastern Cottonwood    
        Staghorn Sumac   Black Walnut    


A wetland is an area that has standing water at or near the surface for most of the year. Wetlands may be located along shorelines and riverbanks or can often be found in isolated depressions or hollows. Wetlands are very important within nature for the following reasons:

A. Wetlands provide habitat (food, water, shelter and space) for mammals, reptiles, amphibians and many bird species.
B. Wetlands act like a giant sponge, holding water that reduces flooding.
C. Wetlands release water slowly, supplying water to other communities.
D. Wetlands help to control erosion.
E. Wetlands act like water filters.

There are four types of wetlands found in Ontario;

These are found along the edges of rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. They support many plants that are rooted in the soil and grow out of the water called emergent plants. Cattails and Arrowheads are two examples of emergent plants. Marshes receive their water from the body of water next to them, groundwater, rain or snow. As a result of this the water levels can vary from a few centimetres up to two metres.


Swamps can be either isolated or found along rivers, streams and lakes. They are formed as a result of flooding during the spring snowmelt. They are covered with water for most of the year, although they do not flood as deeply
as marshes and can dry up during periods of drought.

Some of the trees that can be seen in a swamp include Eastern White Cedar, Balsam Poplar, Red Maple, Silver Maple, Black Ash, Tamarack and Spruce. A variety of shrubs are located here: Alder, Willow, Button Bush, Winterberry and Dogwood. The ground is carpeted with mosses, ferns and wildflowers including Marsh Marigold, Skunk Cabbage and Orchids.

Bogs are commonly found in the northern parts of the province. They are located in deep, bowl-like depressions and are filled with layers of peat (slowly decaying plant material). The water becomes covered with floating and decaying vegetation. The dominant vegetation here is sphagnum moss. Some tree species found here are Black Spruce, Tamarack and White Cedar. Plants include Leatherleaf, Labrador Tea, Bog Rosemary, Blueberries, Cranberries, Three-leaved-Solomons Seal, Sundew and Pitcher Plants.

These are areas that are usually located in low-lying areas of Northern Ontario. Within Fens water slowly flows in and out of the peat layers. However, fens may dry up in the warmer months. They are one of the most interesting wildflower and insect habitats and are a great place to find Orchids and other rare plants.
Fens are dominated by grasses, rushes, and sedges. Other plant life consists of: Horsetails, Brown Moss, Tamarack, Black Spruce and Birch. Wildlife within a Fen can include shrews, mice, voles, lemmings, coyote, muskrat, raccoon, beaver and weasels.