Outing to the Murray Tract

On Saturday, November 21, a late fall / early winter morning, seven members of the Saugeen Naturalists Club gathered to explore the Murray Tract, a new nature reserve in Sullivan Township, Grey County. Our goals were, 1) to share what we know about the tract, 2) explore a portion of the property for potential trails and points of interest, and 3) to consider future management and stewardship of the property.


In 1997 Howard Krug bequeathed the nearby Krug Forest – Kinghurst Tract to Ontario Nature (previously the Federation of Ontario Naturalists) for use as a nature reserve. Ontario Nature asked the Saugeen Field Naturalists Club to act as the local stewards of the reserve and a stewardship agreement was signed by both organizations.

Howard’s younger brother Bruce passed away in May 2013 and willed the nearby Krug Forest – Murray Tract to Ontario Nature. Saugeen Nature agreed to act as stewards of this tract as well.

Farming and Forestry

The Murray Tract consists of the south half of lot 29 and the north quarter of lot 30, Concession VI, Sullivan Township, totaling 150 acres. An old farm lane enters the property about 3 km north of Grey County Road 25 on the west side of Concession VI Road.

The Krug Bothers Furniture Company of Chesley purchased the property from Dugald Murray in 1929. It consisted of 100 acres of cedar swamp and upland hardwood with the balance as former agricultural land. Since the property was fenced there was the potential for reforestation.

Three thousand trees were ordered from the Forestry Branch of the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests and planted in the spring of 1931 under the supervision of Howard Krug. Red Pine was the principal species with experimental plantings of Red Oak, Black Walnut, Silver Maple and Carolina Poplar. In later years an additional 2,000 Red Pine were planted as well as a small experimental plot of Jack Pine.

The plantings had varying degrees of success. More details can be found in A Century of Excellence: Krug Bros. & Co. Furniture Manufacturers by Howard Krug, pp. 99 – 101.

Regional Setting

The Murray Tract adds to a complex of areas of protected or partially protected lands in the area. The Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve to the northeast is about 700 acres. The 350-acre Kinghurst Management Unit owned by Saugeen Conservation is across the road east of the Murray Tract. A 40-acre property that abuts the Murray Tract to the south is privately owned and has been offered to Ontario Nature by the owner.

All are within a physiographic area of gravelly, stony, glacial till moraines, till plains and glacial spillway deposits that include kettle lakes and coldwater streams. The area drains to the North Saugeen River.

The Murray Tract is part of the 550 ha / 1359 a. Kinghurst West Life Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). To the northeast is the 427 ha / 1055a. Kinghurst ANSI and to the east is the 132 ha / 327 a. Harrison Lake and Fen Life Science ANSI. Together these ANSIs were studied by MNR in the 1980s as a future nature reserve park.


The wider area including and surrounding the Murray Tract includes upland sugar maple, white ash and beech forest; mixed lowland forest of cedar, white pine, silver maple, birch, black ash, spruce, hemlock and basswood; lowland swamp; reforestation plots and regenerating agricultural land. A wide variety of shrubs and woodland plants occupy the understory of the forest.

Points of Interest

During our outing we observed a number of points of interest – over 600 meters of stone fence running east-west and shorter stone fences running north-south; a house foundation; several evergreen plantations; wetlands; more level areas of younger maples – presumably regenerating old farm fields; a tree stand previously used for deer hunting; one large and one smaller raptor nests; several very tall, straight and large old maples; basswood, black walnut and beech trees; a stand of naturally regenerating hemlock; a cold-water stream in a deep, steep-sided ravine; and very old, cavity trees and snags along the old fence lines.

Future Activities

We identified and discussed some activities that might be carried out by SFN and/or ON in future: 1) follow and mark the property boundaries, 2) extend the trail routes currently temporarily marked using old farm trails as much as possible, 3) inventory wetland and woodland plants and evidence of wildlife, 4) conduct spring bird and botany walks, 5) explore the northern 2/3 and western 1/3 of the property not covered on this outing, 6) identify and map additional points of interest.

We look forward to many interesting outings on this fascinating addition to our club’s responsibilities.

Clarke Birchard

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