North of Bancroft & Maynooth, in a hamlet known as Slabtown; there is a public docking area at Trails End, off Boulter Rd. This access route is landlocked by the Slabtown rapids, but you can still access Egan Chutes by travelling up-river from this point. For ghost town enthusiasts, stories passed down from generation to generation tell of men who drowned in logging accidents near this boat launch. And there are rocks along the shoreline where the names of deceased log drivers have been etched in rough.
The Trails End portage extends 0.5km into Slabtown, ending at the iron bridge on Boulter Road. Slabtown once boasted an iron bridge, with high symmetrical railings, that fortified the structure. This new seventh bridge is a single-lane bridge, like those at New Carlow and the Little Mississippi, both surrounding tributaries that intersect with the York and Madawaska Rivers.
Conroy’s Marsh is approximately 10km, down river from Slabtown and it is the little known jewel of the York, described by some as a “Northern Bayou” because of its marshy bogs and lush vegetation.
Historically Conroy’s Marsh was a booming shanty town and an Alligator Boat brought tourists and prospectors to a hotel that once thrived there. The dilapidated remains of this Octogonal hotel provides a ghost town destination and an old roof can still be found on this property. These and other aging structures offer insights into the activities of a community that is long gone, but not forgotten.
As it turns out, bullfrogs also thrived in the Marsh and many years ago locals would trap and harvest them, putting their legs on ice before exporting them to posh urban eateries as far away as New York City.
Conroy’s Marsh is now a registered walleye spawning site and thick, pulsing schools of this fish literally overtake the water in April and May annually. In the fall the wild cranberries are so plentiful that you need only to strike the branches up against the boat to find your canoe 4 inches deep in the berries. Arts connoisseurs will recognize Conroy’s Marsh in A.J. Casson’s paintings titled by this same name.
The river continues adjacent to Highway 515 through Combermere, where it hits the Ottawa River at Arnprior, but this is where our story stops. But the river doesn’t stop, and if you are so inclined, it’s just a matter of time before your canoe will reach the Atlantic.
Conveniently located on the York River between Egan Chute Provincial Waterway Park and Conroys Marsh Conservation Reserve.
The Pinecone Forest Nature Sanctuary is 150 acres of forest, blueberry meadows and wetlands with direct canoe access to Conroys Marsh. A network of natural woodland trails allow guests to view the various forest groves including old-growth pine, cedar swamp, cranberry bog and lichen beds. Viewing stations with rustic wooden benches are great places to meditate or to sit quietly and let nature do its thing. Deer, otter, beaver, fox, muskrat, mink, pine martin, rabbit, red squirrel and chipmunk make their home in the forest, while moose, elk, bear and wolf pass through on their search for food. For the bird-watcher there are pileated woodpeckers, whiskey-jacks, snipes, great blue herons, American bitterns, ducks, hawks, osprey, bald eagles, ravens and a host of song and migratory birds ready to greet you.
FAMILIES, SENIORS, SINGLES, COUPLES AND GROUPS WELCOME
Call ahead for reservations at 613-332-3651.
As a nature sanctuary, fishing, hunting, motorboats, ATVs, snowmobiles and pets are not permitted. Although we cannot control what happens outside The Pinecone Forest, we offer peace and tranquility for all our guests and the forest creatures within our boundaries.
Just off a quiet country lane, east of Combermere, is the proximity of the historic Craigmont Corundum mine, now a ghost town. Mineral collecting here is quite remarkable. The corundum that is found is of a bronze/black colour and often in large crystals. They are known to display a star lighting effect. Incidentally, sapphire and ruby are the gemstone expressions of corundum.