The most notable historic site in the village of Shanty Bay is St. Thomas Anglican Church, built in the 1800’s from mud and wood cut from nearby forests. Immediately behind this historic structure is The Church Woods, a 10 hectare stand that has been in the O’Brien family since 1832. In 2006, the far-flung descendants of this family decided to sell the Woods, and offered it at a reduced price to the Shanty Bay neighbours. A group of neighbours enlisted the Conservancy to assist and led a community fund-raising drive to collect nearly $600,000. The Townships of Oro-Medonte provided a supporting grant, and the O’Brien family generously donated the remainder of the land value.
Unique features of this property
- most of the property is densely wooded in old-growth hardwoods, with an understory of typical woodland wildflowers and ferns
- several seasonal streams cross the property, and a small wetland area and adjacent ditch provides breeding habitat for amphibians (and mosquitoes!)
- The Woods has 33 species of trees, including Butternut, which is now considered endangered in Canada because of a rapidly-spreading disease
- among the variety of birds and other wildlife using the Woods is the Red-headed Woodpecker, another species at risk in Ontario
- the close proximity of The Church woods to Kempenfelt Bay and the high development pressures in the surrounding area increases its social value and the walking trails with the Woods are well-used by the community
- the historical association of the woods with St. Thomas Church provides an interesting intersection of cultural and natural history
Best time to visit: year-round
From the main intersection in Shanty Bay on Ridge Road, go south on Line 2 towards Kempenfelt Bay. Turn right on Church Street; entrance to the woods is at the end of the street.