Conroy Marsh Conservation Area is designated a Provincially Distinct Wetland, harbouring unique mosaic of wetland communities, including at least 21 eco-sites. Covering over 2,000 hectares in the valley bowl of the York & Little Mississippi Rivers, just south of their junction with the Madawaska RiverĀ  (Negeek Lake, just downstream of Combermere), the marsh is an intriguing place to unobtrusively explore by canoe or kayak. Madawaska River Rentals provides canoe and gear rentals, shuttle and valet services, delivery/pick-up to suit your needs. With advantage notice, it is possible to arrange a guide to navigate for your group, and to offer historical and natural interpretation to enhance your experience and understanding of the Marsh, her rivers and the watershed. Please feel free to call for more info, or to reserve canoes or services.

Looking into Conroy Marsh From the Little Mississippi River
Looking into Conroy Marsh From the Little Mississippi River(left pic)

Pictures of Marsh Paddles click here. The Ottawa Valley Tourist Association provides some details from the Conroy Marsh Management Plan, detailing some of the unique plants and wildlife of the marsh. Please enjoy a link to Plant Photos from the Madawaska River Watershed 'Flora Galora' Facebook Album, that highlights some of the beautiful plants that create the march ecosystem.

link to Google maps click here if you zoom in you will get more names and details. Unfortunately, google maps has the York and the Little Missisissippi Rivers labelled as the Madawaska River. This is very confusing. The River that travels through Bancroft, Ontario is the York River. The river that passes through McArthur Mills is the Little Mississippi.

Paddlers looking to lily-dip, should plan to paddle in/paddle out to the same location; paddling down the Marsh is a full day excursion. Although the marsh its self is massive, visitors have public access it by water, from the Little Mississippi River(Burnt Bridge Rd), the York River (on Boulter Rd-going downstream from here requires negotiating grade one rapids 'Conroy Rapids', or lining), or from one of the many put-ins on the Madawaska River.

Looking towards the mouth of the York River, and entrance to Conroy Marsh from Negeek Lake

It is truly advisable to paddle the main river channels, as the bogs and floating masses of plants, pickerelweed, and waterliies can become maze-like, easily disorienting explorers, and truly can lead the canoeist nowhere...... as this writer can personally attest.

Unfortunately, Conroy Marsh has no dry camping spots. There is private camping available on the York River (south end of Conroy Marsh) at Pinecone Forest or Silgrey Resort, both located below Conroy Rapids. On McPhee's Bay, off Negeek Lake there is 'Stan's Cottages' for close access Marsh. Please visit our local info page for area accomodations.

Beyond being eye candy for the Ontario paddler, the hills surrounding the Marsh share a history with the Rivers that pass through. Archeological findings show that these rivers have been traveled and inhabited, for thousands of years. A fascinating book (if you can get your hands on a copy, maybe through Pilrim Book Store in Combermere), "Before the Memories Fade" by the Senior Citizens of Carlow Township, weaves a poetic and engaging picture of the area, as remembered through oral history, written documents, survey notes, etc covering pre and early exploration and settlement, through the logging & mining booms.

Cool Stories on the Mission House Museums Virtual Exhibit 'Madawaska River: Lifeblood of the Formation of Combermere":

Nation Fur Farm : the story of the 'Rat Farm' on the York River, on the current home of Pinecone Forest.

"The Indian Wars of 1649" shares the story of the running battle between the Iroquois and the Algonquin, up the little Mississippi to stalemate at the mouth of the York, on Franscois' Mountain.

Stories about Craigmont and Burgess Mines - One the world's largest producer of Corundum(second only to diamonds for hardness), area deposits were extracted and transported via waterways, down the York and up the Madawaska River, through Kaminiskeg Lake, to the railway, in Barry's Bay.

Conroy Marsh, named for lumber baron Robert Conroy, who owned the timbre rights on the land west of Robinson Lake, and operated a depot farm(currently Silgrey Rustic Resort), at Conroy Rapids (just below the bridge on Boulter Rd).