(Photo: Bert Jenkins)



(Photo: Katherine Rogalska)




About the new Monarch Point Nature Reserve

by John Hirsch

The South Shore Joint Initiative’s first major project came to fruition on June 16 when the province declared the almost 4,000 acres of crown land on the South Shore to be the Monarch Point Conservation Reserve, under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act.

As the province stated in their formal announcement, most current permitted recreational uses will be able to continue. This includes hunting, fishing and ATV use on trails. But changes could be made in the future if uses threaten the ecological values of the conservation reserve.

The next step in defining what will be the permitted uses is creation of a management plan, specific to Monarch Point.

This plan will be developed by Ontario Parks staff with an extensive public consultation process. SSJI plans to work closely with Ontario Parks officials as we have much of the institutional knowledge necessary.

I would note that contrary to fears expressed by some on social media, there will not be a charge for admission to the conservation reserve.

Notification about the consultation process should be coming out shortly and we will continue to advise our supporters as this process proceeds.




Media Release

For Immediate Release

June 16, 2023


New Monarch Point Conservation Reserve created

in Prince Edward County

The Monarch Butterfly’s important habitat in Prince Edward County’s South Shore is now permanently protected. South Shore Joint Initiative (SSJI) board and partners are delighted to share that the Ontario government has just announced a new conservation reserve in Prince Edward County!

Ostrander Point Crown Land Block and Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area – nearly 4,000 acres along the South Shore of Prince Edward County, Canada’s last undeveloped Lake Ontario shoreline – are now designated as Ontario’s newest conservation reserve, Monarch Point.

The complete Environmental Registry of Ontario posting can be found here. It is understood that Hon. David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks will make a public announcement in The County in the near future.

“We’re thrilled that the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has moved forward with this important designation.” John Hirsch, president of South Shore Joint Initiative shares, “We’re proud to have participated in the consultation process and look forward to being involved in future land management planning.”

“The Monarch Point designation is deeply meaningful to thousands of community members as well as local, provincial and federal non-profit partners. We’re profoundly grateful for the active support of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, Birds Canada, Hastings Prince Edward Land Trust, Kingston Field Naturalists, Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ontario Nature, Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, Quinte Field Naturalists, Point to Point Foundation, Consecon Foundation, Gosling Foundation and Schad Foundation and, of course, the Council of the County of Prince Edward.”

For more than five years, South Shore Joint Initiative has led local efforts for the permanent protection and preservation of South Shore lands and waters. The organization hosts regular South Shore Strolls and encourages enjoyment of these public lands through initiatives such as a new Eco-Footpath.

Cultural and built heritage is another focus of this volunteer-led environmental non-profit. Restoration of the heritage-designated Hudgin Log House is well underway. Once completed, it will become a unique Field Centre where students, scientists, researchers and the public will be able to deepen their understanding of the South Shore’s incredible biodiversity and history.

John notes, “South Shore Joint Initiative came together in 2018. Today, we celebrate this watershed moment in our County’s natural history. Monarch Point Conservation Reserve will ensure generations of people will continue to enjoy access to the rare and fragile lands of this remarkably biodiverse area. Most importantly, it will protect the habitat of at least 39 rare and at-risk species such as Blanding’s Turtles, dozens of migrating bird species as well as Monarch Butterflies.”

South Shore Joint Initiative will host an online screening of the award-winning film Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly on June 23 at 1:00 pm. Prince Edward County is home to one of only three International Monarch Reserves in Canada and this 56-min film captures the butterfly’s incredible migration story. To confirm free registration for a school group, send an email to [email protected]. General public tickets are also available for $10 online here.

About South Shore Joint Initiative: Our vision is a permanently protected Prince Edward County South Shore where together biodiversity and people thrive. Together, our mission is to educate and advocate for the protection, preservation and restoration of South Shore lands and waters.

As a Canadian registered charity, South Shore Joint Initiative relies on the generosity of donors and supporters to advance its mission. To learn more, become a member, attend an event, volunteer or donate, visit ssji.ca.

For more information:
Cheryl Anderson
613-849-7743 or [email protected]

PDF version


Monarch Point Conservation Reserve - map





Frequently Asked Questions

What is the South Shore's history? 

For thousands of years, the land of Prince Edward County has been the traditional territory and home of Indigenous peoples. We acknowledge that the South Shore lies on the traditional lands of the Wendake-Nionwentsïo, Haudenosaunee and Mississauga Nations and that Indigenous peoples continue to live in Prince Edward County. We are dedicated to protecting, preserving and restoring this land for all future generations.

Why is the South Shore of Prince Edward County so special? 

The South Shore is the last undeveloped public land on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario. Despite more than 200 years of human use for recreation and agriculture, it hosts a very high level of biodiversity and it is home to dozens of species at risk including birds, plants, animals and fish. The South Shore provides a remarkable opportunity to enjoy nature. The biodiversity and carbon capture potential of the undeveloped South Shore is helping to mediate the effects of climate change and protect threatened habitats. Point Edward Point National Wildlife Area in the South Shore is one of the first sites with protected habitat for migratory songbirds in Canada. In 1995, an International Monarch Butterfly Reserve was designated in the South Shore and annual bird migration monitoring began.

Why should I care about protecting Prince Edward County’s South Shore?

We all benefit from being outside in a calming natural environment. Prince Edward County’s South Shore provides a space for outdoor activities in a free and beautiful place. The biodiversity of the South Shore is remarkable given the hundreds of years of human use. The South Shore is the last undeveloped stretch of land on the north shore of Lake Ontario and preserving it helps to mitigate the effects of climate change.

How big is the South Shore and where is it located in Prince Edward County?

Birds Canada defines the South Shore Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) as the 26 km stretch from Point Petre to Prince Edward Point as well as from Lake Ontario to Hilltop Road and Army Reserve Road. The South Shore land area includes 15,000 acres (6070 ha) surrounded by 54,000 acres (21,800 ha) of near shore waters from the mouth of the Black River to Soup Harbour. South Shore Joint Initiative has focused on protecting Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area and Ostrander Point Crown Land Block, public lands within the IBA. Sandbanks Park is not located within the South Shore IBA.

Why is the South Shore Joint Initiative focusing on public lands in the South Shore?

For over twenty years, the South Shore and surrounding waters have been recognized as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). Defined by Birds Canada, the South Shore includes two pieces of public land that have recently been protected. A further 4,000 acres (1620 ha) of land has been protected by designating Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area and Ostrander Point Crown Land Block as Monarch Point Conservation Reserve.

Our goal is to ensure that all 6,000 acres (2430 ha) of public land in the South Shore of Prince Edward County are permanently protected for future generations of migratory birds, at-risk-species and everyone who loves the County. People will still be able to enjoy many activities at Monarch Point. A public consultation process will help create a management plan to make sure that natural features, cultural heritage and traditional activities are preserved.

What South Shore public lands are currently protected? How will Conservation Reserve designation protect Monarch Point?

Conserved and protected public lands in the South Shore include the federally and provincially protected Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area and Timber Island Provincial Park. In addition, Little Bluff Conservation Area owned by Quinte Conservation is protected public land. Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area and Ostrander Point Crown Land Block have recently been designated as Monarch Point Conservation Reserve. Conservation Reserve status protects significant natural and cultural features while providing opportunities for a variety of compatible traditional activities on the lands.

Protected public lands owned by private land trusts or conservation groups include: Gravelly Bay property owned by Ducks Unlimited Canada, Hudgin-Rose Nature Reserve, MapleCross Coastline Reserve and Bass Family Nature Reserve by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Miller Family Nature Reserve by Hastings-Prince Edward Land Trust.

Will people be able to enjoy Monarch Point Conservation Reserve?

Yes, each Conservation Reserve will have a unique management plan developed through public consultation. Conservation Reserve status protects natural as well as cultural heritage, and compatible traditional actives will continue to be permitted so people will still be able to enjoy many activities. The public will be invited to determine specific land use and help create land management plans for Monarch Point.

Will I still be able to use my ATV or snowmobile at Monarch Point?

ATV and snowmobile use will be allowed subject to the publicly developed management plan for each new Conservation Reserve. Point Petre and Ostrander Point have long been places where people connect with nature, with a long legacy of human activities, from Indigenous peoples to more recent recreational and tourist uses. Hunters, fishers, birders, hikers, swimmers, photographers, snowmobilers and ATV riders enjoy use of the trails, wetlands and shoreline. Public consultation will help develop specific management plans for the new Conservation Reserve.

What is the difference between a Conservation Reserve and a Conservation Area?

Conservation Areas are owned by a Conservation Authority (for example, Quinte Conservation). Conservation Authorities are community-based watershed management agencies, whose mandate is to undertake watershed-based programs to protect people and property from flooding, and other natural hazards, and to conserve natural resources for economic, social and environmental benefits.

A Conservation Reserve is owned by the government of Ontario and regulated by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. It is designated in order to protect areas that are ecologically significant.

What species at risk have been identified in the South Shore?

An area of remarkable biodiversity, Prince Edward County’s South Shore is home to 41 species at risk including birds, plants, animals and fish. Globally significant flocks of waterfowl winter in waters that surround the South Shore. Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area is one of the first sites with protected habitat for migratory songbirds in Canada. From 2001 to 2013, 6.7 million birds of 273 species were detected at Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. Most significantly, the highest density of bird migration on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario is recorded at Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area.

The species at risk that have been identified to date in Prince Edward County’s South Shore include: Red-Headed Woodpecker, Little Brown Myotis, Northern Long Eared Myotis, Horned Grebe, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Least Bittern, Canada Warbler, Chimney Swift, Common Nighthawk, Hooded Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Rusty Blackbird, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Barn Swallow, Bridled Shiner, Snapping Turtle, Eastern Musk Turtle, Blandings Turtle, Northern Map Turtle, Wood Turtle, Midland Painted Turtle, Peregrine Falcon, Loggerhead Shrike, Northern Goshawk, Acadian Flycatcher, Northern Saw whet Owl, Henslow’s Sparrow, Pugnose Shiner, Butternut, Monarch Butterfly, Western Chorus Frog, Cerulean Warbler, Eastern Milk snake, Black Tern, King Rail, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, Grasshopper Sparrow, Eastern Wood Pee-wee, and Wood Thrush.





Media Coverage




Species at Risk Profile – Monarch Butterfly

by Megan Miller

Likely the most recognizable butterfly in Ontario, this species is orange with black web-like lines running through the orange base, with white spots bordering the wings. As a caterpillar, they are white, yellow, and black-banded.

Monarch Adult (Photo: lan Dickinson)

Monarch Caterpillar (Photo: Dale Smith)

Monarchs call home from Central America to the southern parts of Canada. In Canada, Monarchs are most abundant in southern Ontario and Quebec where milkweed plants and breeding habitats are widespread. In late summer and fall, Monarchs migrate to Mexico where they spend the winter months avoiding the cold Canadian climate (jealous much?). During migration, groups of Monarchs numbering in the thousands can be seen along the north shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie!

The Monarch butterfly is considered Endangered in Canada. There are many factors influencing the decline of the Monarch which include climate change, destruction of their overwintering homes in Mexico, insecticides, and invasive species. Monarchs exclusively lay their eggs on milkweed plants. In their larval stage, they only eat milkweed. However, Monarchs have been laying their eggs on the invasive milkweed, Dog-Strangling Vine. Unfortunately, the larvae are not adapted to this milkweed and they don’t survive on it.

Can you tell the difference between a Monarch Butterfly and a Viceroy Butterfly?

(Photos: Ian Dickinson)

Although Monarch and Viceroy butterflies can be difficult to tell apart, there is a simple distinguishable difference. Viceroys have a black horizontal line going through the veins of their hind wings (the bottom two wings). The Viceroy is typically a little bit smaller than the Monarch, but if you don't have them side by side for comparison, this won't be the best way to help decide whether you've seen a Viceroy or a Monarch.

You can learn more about the Monarch and how you can help them by visiting the Monarch Page on the Government of Canada website.

This article appeared in The South Shoreliner vol 2 no 4.

A detailed description of Monarchs (female and male) in all stages from Mission Monarch:


Learn how you can support our mission here.