A Trip to Oak Hammock Marsh

Oak Hammock Marsh used to be known as St. Andrews Bog, a 470 square kilometre bog and fen situated southwest of Lake Winnipeg. In 1897, as settlement encroached on the area, farmers drained the bog for agricultural use. By the 1960s, only 60 ha remained. Area farmers over the years converted all the rest into farmland.

Reclamation of the Bog

In 1967, the Governments of both Canada and Manitoba, in conjunction with Ducks Unlimited, began the work of reclaiming some of the former bog as a wildlife management area. They bought back much of the land surrounding what was left of the bog. Then they built 22 km of dikes to trap and contain water, separating it with dykes into three compartments. 

In 1984, Ducks Unlimited in conjunction with the Manitoba Government began to construct water control structures, water supply works, more nesting islands, additional dykes, and finally,  a fourth compartment.

Oak Hammock Marsh Today

The marsh as it stands today is a managed and reconstructed wetland designed to be a waterfowl breeding area and provide a place for migratory birds. The water levels are managed in order to maintain the wetlands, lowering the levels in wetter years. If this was not done, they claim that gradually the area would become a large slough or even a lake and would not provide good nesting areas for the birds. In addition, some of the surrounding land has been planted with cereal crops to provide food for the birds, as well as encourage them to leave farmers’ fields in the area alone.

In the 1980s, Ducks Unlimited created a controversy by building their corporate headquarters in the marsh. They have been accused of creating a “duck factory” for hunters by breeding birds that can then be shot. Hunting is not allowed in the wildlife preserve although birds can be hunted in the surrounding area. 

2 Replies to “A Trip to Oak Hammock Marsh”

  1. Thanks for the interesting back story and of course the wonderful photos. I really enjoy your trips. Thanks again for sharing your expeditions.

    1. Thanks, Walt! I’d like to get back to get some more photos of this fascinating area – so many places to go, not enough time… Glad you are enjoying my blog! 🙂

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