The Greenock Swamp is southern Ontario's single largest forested wetland at approximately 8,094 hectares (20,000 acres) in size. Saugeen Conservation owns approximately half of this vast wetland, a total of 3,439 hectares.
In addition to being a Class 1 Wetland, the swamp is noted for its size, history and ability to act as a giant sponge, releasing water during periods of drought and absorbing water during heavy rainfall. The Authority began purchasing property in this area as early as the 1950's.
The swamp was noted historically for its vast stands of White Pine. A man by the name of Henry Cargill purchased a large tract of the swamp in 1879 and began serious logging operations, that spanned over the next 25 years. Large canals were dug through the swamp to float logs down to the Village of Cargill (named after Henry), for processing and shipping.
Most of the White Pine was used in the building of ships and ship masts for the British Navy. Cargill logged 5,000,000 board feet of White Pine out of the swamp every year for a period of 25 years.
Henry's son (W.D. Cargill) took over the logging operation in 1903 after Henry died. In an effort to modernize operations, W.D. constructed a railway through the swamp for the purpose of hauling logs. The ‘dinky' train, however, was too large and heavy for the operation, (having to be continually reinforced), and eventually W. D. Cargill went out of business.
During the prohibition period the Greenock was a great place for the making of ‘moonshine'. Many a tale and story can be told of the vast stills being operated out of the depths of the Greenock Swamp.
Saugeen Conservation and its Foundation are currently undertaking a project that would involve the installation of a trail network through part of the swamp. Currently only a short walking trail and boardwalk run from the road to the Schmidt Lake Lookout. Get the latest scoop under the Saugeen Valley Conservation Foundation.