About Us

Artefacts found on the property go back more than 10,500 years and the rare Charitable Research Reserve acknowledges the Chonnonton people (“people of the deer”) on whose traditional territory we live and work, and we offer respect to our Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Métis neighbours as we strengthen our relationships with them.

rare’s Mission

The reserve’s network of natural landscapes are held in trust as a common possession, set aside for their natural and heritage value and to provide unprecedented engagement opportunities in ecological and cultural research, education, community engagement and recreation. Through the combined efforts of the community and rare’s team of staff and advisors we will discover best practices and answers to environmental problems, stewarding these diverse lands for ecological integrity and future generations.

rare’s Vision

To offer the community, including the international community and future generations, a diverse network of connected natural areas, protected intact and in perpetuity. As an international leader in conservation, research, restoration, and education, rare will show leadership and serve as a model system to demonstrate the link between ecological integrity and economic sustainability that is critical to enhanced quality of life for the planet.

rare’s Rationale

The rare Charitable Research Reserve takes seriously the restoration of the natural environment – and, as our population grows, it becomes more and more clear just how important the rare reserve is to our community’s health and quality of life. Our goal is to add to the ecological functioning and integrity of our ecosystems. We want to create a model for restoration and stewardship that promotes environmental sustainability, and to demonstrate to others how economic and ecological development can occur at the same time.

There are many reasons to live and work in Southern Ontario. We believe one of those reasons should be that, here, children are given unprecedented opportunities, including the opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle, with access to natural areas and are offered education programs that help create the next generation of environmentally-literate citizens.

Trail head at the rare ECO Centre. Photo by Peter Kelly.

Founded in 2001, the rare Charitable Research Reserve is a 900+acre land reserve situated at the confluence of the Grand and Speed Rivers.  The reserve is not only a beautiful and culturally significant landscape, but includes trees more than 240 years old and provides a diversity of habitats that supports rich biodiversity. This pristine landscape is home to an incredible array of flora and fauna, some of which are ranked significant regionally, provincially, nationally, even globally.

Larger than Central Park in New York, but found in the heart of Waterloo Region, rare stewards this magnificent natural jewel striving to preserve the land for future generations by focusing on conservation, ecological restoration, research and education while also providing wonderful passive recreation opportunities to the surrounding community.

Key Objectives

  • To preserve, protect and restore the environment of lands in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (“Region”)
  • To encourage, promote and foster an understanding of the Region’s natural resources, history and environment and their value in enhancing the public’s quality of life.
  • To conduct research, seminars, interpretive activities, conferences and public forums about the flora, fauna, agricultural practices, hydrology and geology of the Region.
  • To preserve, protect, enhance and expand wildlife habitat in the Region.
  • To promote the advancement of education and scientific methodology, at all levels of learning.
  • To purchase, maintain and preserve historical buildings and archaeological sites in the Region and to display such buildings and any artefacts which are discovered to the public.

What is in the Reserve?

The reserve hosts natural, agricultural and cultural habitats; upland and lowland deciduous forests including old growth and replacement woods, as well as conifer plantations; floodplain and upland cropland; old field succession and shrub thickets; limestone alvars, cliffs and escarpments (identical to those of the Niagara Escarpment which holds a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve designation); and river shorelines, coldwater streams and wetlands. It is not only home to the confluence of the Grand and the Speed Rivers – both Canadian Heritage Rivers – it is also where the forests of the Northern Hardwoods and Carolinian zones meet. Because it has had very few owners, six of the eight pre-settlement landscapes are still present.

In order to address all areas of the property and what our environmental experts would like to see happen, we have created an environmental management plan.

Although rare exists to protect these important landscapes, we also want to make them open to the public for appropriate recreation and independent learning. Our trail systems provide leisure opportunities to the entire community, are free, and are open to the public for much of the year. For more information, visit our trails page.

rare Charitable Research Reserve
1679 Blair Road
Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8
(519) 650-9336
Charitable Registration:
#8776 15914 RR0001