Nestled in the southeast corner of Beechwood lays a little oasis filled with foxes, salamanders, blue herons, woodpeckers, frogs, turtles and even groundhogs. This unique pocket of urban wetland is home to over 5, 500 different types of wildlife, fungi, plants, and aquatic animals. A woodland path lined with greenery winds around the edge of a peaceful pond leading visitors to a little wooden classroom.
The marsh is named after a pioneering Canadian naturalist, John Macoun, who was born in Ireland in 1831, then came to Canada in 1850, and after some years of farming began a teaching career. His interest in botany took him into the wilds of every corner of Canada. He was known as the Professor, Dean of Canadian Naturalists, and Canada's first Dominion Botanist. His body rests at Beechwood Cemetery in Section 39, Lot 73 S.
The undisturbed and quiet area provided a perfect place for local schools, such as Jean Vanier Catholic School and St. Laurent Academy, to bring science classes to study biodiversity. Their passion for the beautiful marsh led to students submitting photos and documentation to local and international competitions. In 2006, five students placed second at the Volvo Adventure International Competition held in Goteborg, Sweden. They decided to invest the $6,000 prize money back into the marsh by building a classroom. With help from the Beechwood Cemetery Foundation, the Macoun Marsh Committee fundraised and built the Macoun Marsh Outdoor Classroom. The hand painted imagery displays some of the nature visitors may find while exploring the Macoun Marsh. The purpose being to continue outdoor learning and the study of biodiversity.
The design and construction were done by students of a number of Ottawa-Carleton Catholic High Schools. Built of Western red cedar, the classroom features book platforms, seating, observation lookout and bird feeders that attract the many species of native birds that make their home in the marsh.
On top of receiving the Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award (2008) and Youth Mentor Award from the Canadian Wildlife Federation (2011), Pinegrove Productions created an educational film about the marsh. This spawned a number of biodiversity-related high-profile projects and events.
Since the area the marsh is on is wetland, it is unpractical for burials. The Beechwood Cemetery Foundation supports the use of the land for educational purposes. The marsh is now being protected by the Beechwood Cemetery Foundation and continues to give school children and the public the opportunity to appreciate and learn about the environment. The Foundation continues to focus its efforts on preserving and enhancing the area around the marsh for educational purposes.
The Macoun Marsh has become an area for the community to get away, walk its dogs and see the beautiful biodiversity of the Beechwood Cemetery.
- Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Awards at Queen's Park (2008)
- the Volvo Adventure - Second Prize (International 2006)
- Youth Mentor Award for the Canadian Wildlife Federation for 2011
Visit the Macoun Marsh Facebook page for more information.