Gillies Grove

July 3, 2014

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An expanse of old growth forest in the north corner of Arnprior, Gillies Grove is a rare remnant of the magnificent forest that once covered this region. The Grove includes sugar maple, yellow birch, American beech, eastern hemlock and Basswood trees. In one section, a stand of ancient white pines thrusts high above the surrounding trees. The largest basswood in Canada once stood here.

The Grove’s ecosystem that has been evolving ever since the Champlain Sea left this region about 10,000 years ago. It harbours multitudes of creatures, some quite rare and elusive. Scarlet tanagers and red-shouldered hawks in summer, pileated woodpeckers and barred owls year-round, all call The Grove home. Raccoons and flying squirrels hide out in hollow trees and, closer to the ground, red-backed salamanders roam through decaying logs.

In spring, a rich array of plants includes a living carpet of hepaticas, spring beauties, violets, and both red and white trilliums. In summer, the odd doll’s-eyes fruit of white baneberry and the ghostly heads of Indian pipe punctuate the lush green understorey.

A National Historic Site, Gillies Grove is a living monument to the human history of the Ottawa Valley. In earlier times, the progenitors of today’s trees sheltered Algonquin people, and then witnessed the canoes of Samuel de Champlain and the coureurs de bois. Present-day trees were seedlings when Archibald McNab, chief of the clan McNab, staked his claim to this land in 1823. They were fully mature when Arnprior achieved town status in 1892. Today the Grove is owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and managed with help from volunteers of the Land Preservation Society of the Ottawa Valley.

Access points for Gillies Grove