MCGEACHY POND CONSERVATION AREA

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A version of this article was first published in Lake Erie Beacon and reprinted in the Daytripper.   When I was a child in the ‘70’s, I remember Lake Erie reaching to the corner of Erieau Road and Erie Shore Drive, which is just north of the village of Erieau. One day, on a family outing from our nearby Blenheim home, I saw that the corner had been partitioned off with a dike. My parents had told me a park was being made. I had been excited as any child would be, thinking of slides, swings, and teeter-totters. Imagine my disappointment as a natural landscape developed with no play equipment in sight. The word “park” had taken on a new meaning.

As an adult, I appreciate McGeachy Pond Conservation Area’s existence as an ecological project. The park, named for William A. McGeachy, has been under the control of the Lower Thames Valley Authority since 1974. Its 15 ha (37 ac) size boasts a meaningful wetland and waterfowl habitat.

Many species of wildlife make the pond their home or include it on their migratory route. Canada geese, tundra swans and red wing blackbirds among other diverse bird species have been observed. Fish species plying the pond waters include large and smallmouth bass, yellow perch and northern pike. Muskrats thrive considerably well—often to an extent that their numbers have to be controlled.

The compact soil pathway runs along the top of the dike. It’s about a 20 minute (10 minutes each way) leisurely walk, with a section for parking at each end. The Erieau Road parking area offers a lookout and picnic area. Along the way, a couple of short, sloped side paths lead to small boardwalk-like docks over the pond.

Extra appreciation comes from being able to view waves crashing on the large rocks on one side and the serenity of the bushes and pond on the other. Since there isn’t much beach along this section, you can head the other way upon returning to the Erieau Road parking area where there is more open sand. You should have ample room to walk unless the water is unusually high at the time. Though I’ve found it generally quiet, I have run into more people in nice weather, especially on the weekends; yet, I’ve never found it crowded. Many locals bring their dogs for walks. I’ve seen families fishing. Birders and photographers practice their hobbies. For travellers on a lengthy road trip and feeling in need of a break, McGeachy Pond is a short drive on Erieau Road from the Talbot Trail on the west side of Blenheim. The park is open daily and there is no fee. The shores of Lake Erie boast a treasure of scenery, animals and plant life. Many environmentally significant areas have been turned into major parks that offer a full day’s exploration. In our small section of southwestern Ontario, from what was once a part of a great lake, we have been given a precious gift of this brief escape into the natural world, where we can enjoy a stroll and revel in wildlife.

(c) Cheryl Smyth, 2010

 To note: A sign states that dogs are to be leashed.

Update 2014
  • The compact soil pathway, which was little more than a worn-in footpath, has been widened into a gravelled dirt trail.
  • The water is now generally too high for an extended walk on the beach.
  • A newer trail, the Erieau Marsh Trail, continues on the opposite side of Erieau Road and heads away from the lake. The 1.7 km (1.1 mi) stretch follows the old rail system and features marsh plants and wildlife.
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