Whaleback Woodland Reserve

Carolyn Canfield flanked by MMLT’s Michael Macpherson who for ten years diligently shepherded this project to fruition and Carolyn’s neighbour and friend Ian Campbell who keeps a careful watch over this gem.

On Friday, April 20, 2018, MMLT honoured Carolyn Canfield for her generous donation of the Whaleback Woodland Reserve in the Carp Hills.

For over forty years Carolyn has had a deep interest in the permanent conservation of important ecological lands, particularly those facing mounting recreational and residential pressures. Her determination to make her own real contribution through the donation of her Carp Hills land to MMLT ensures that sensitive and fragile features of this property will now be conserved in perpetuity, and the ecological value of the Carp Ridge enhanced.

At 15.7 acres it is MMLT’s smallest land acquisition to date, but the Whaleback Woodland Reserve is 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).

It is hoped that this donation will encourage other Carp Hill landowners of ecologically significant natural spaces interested in protecting the land they love to consider long term protection options.  MMLT has established the Carp Hills Opportunity Fund to support some of the costs associated with such acquisitions.

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 engagement on designated larger properties such as High Lonesome and Blueberry Mountain, where trails and basic facilities are available.

The Friends of Carp Hills will be partnering with  MMLT to help  provide stewardship and monitoring of the Whaleback Woodland Reserve.


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’s dream is that the patchwork of City-owned land parcels be connected into a contiguous, protected area.