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Photo by Chris Miner

Elbow Lake Property

The Elbow Lake property is 426.8 ha (1,054.6 Ac) in size, encompassing approximately six kilometres of shoreline frontage on Elbow, Spectacle and Upper Rock lakes. Characteristic of the rugged topography of the Frontenac Arch, a narrow, southerly extension of the Canadian Shield, the property is a mosaic of rocky ridges and outcrops, mixed deciduous-coniferous woodlands, lowland and shoreline wetlands. Approximately 30% of the total area of the property is lake or wetland.

Fall Colours
A Wetland

Last image by Chris Miner.

The significance of the Elbow Lake property lies in its contribution as part of a larger corridor of conservation lands within the UNESCO-designated Frontenac Arch Biosphere. Ideally situated between Frontenac Provincial Park to the west, and the Queen’s University Biological Station properties to the north and east, the Elbow Lake property is one of many properties owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) as the Frontenac Arch Natural Area.


Uniquely positioned in an area where the northern shield meets the southern influences of the Adirondack dome, overlapped to the east and west by limestone plain, the Elbow Lake property lies centrally within the resulting biodiversity hotspot. Intermingled among southern species such as Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata), Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) and Allegheny Vine (Adlumia fungosa), one will also find boreal forest habitat characteristic of more northern climes, supporting species such as Tamarack (Larix laricina) and Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus).

Habitat for several significant plant and animal species unique to the Frontenac Arch is supported on the Elbow Lake property. North-extending populations of both the Grey Ratsnake (Pantherophis spiloides) and Five-lined Skink ( Plestiodon fasciatus) occur into the Frontenac Arch; elsewhere in Ontario, these two species are only present in Southwestern Ontario along the Lake Erie shoreline. The Endangered Butternut tree (Juglans cinerea) is found on the Elbow Lake property, while Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea), Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) and Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferous), all provincially-designated Species at Risk, occur in relatively high concentrations within the area.


Beyond the developed area of the ELEEC, the Elbow Lake property is managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada as a nature reserve. The property boundary is clearly signed. It is the intention to leave the natural features of the area undisturbed, and NCC staff regularly monitors the health and condition of these features so as to ensure their ecological integrity. Where necessary, actions may be taken to control invasive species, for example Dog-strangling vine (Cynanchum rossicum) or Common Buckthorn (Rhomus cathartica), or restore native habitat subject to the provisions of an approved management plan for the property.

When exploring the property, stay on the trails to minimize impact on the natural terrain. As with all nature reserves, motorized and mechanized vehicle use, camping and campfires are prohibited within the Frontenac Arch Natural Area. If you notice any damage, evidence of poaching or impending risk to these lands please notify QUBS staff immediately.