Sifton Bog ESA

Location: London, Ontario
Region: Southwestern
Character: Environmentally Significant Area
Length/Size: 40 hectares

Sifton Bog ESA
By Upper Thames River Conservation Authority

Sifton Bog Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) is located on the south side of Oxford Street, west of Hyde Park Road. Parking is available at the main entrance on Oxford Street.

The main feature of this 40-ha public site is the floating acid peat bog and associated boreal plant life. Deciduous swamp and upland forest surround the bog, providing a sharp contrast between the northern (boreal) and southern (Carolinian) vegetation types.
The map shows the variety of trails within this site, totaling 2.5 km. A 370-metre long boardwalk leads from the parking lot at Oxford Street to Redmond’s Pond at the centre of the bog, where there is a viewing platform. Most of the trails are easy to walk, but there are a couple of short hills. The managed trails are marked with yellow blazes.

Please stay on the marked trails and keep pets on leash, to protect the sensitive environment.

Since the bog’s “discovery” by local naturalists in the 1870s, it has been a site of fascination and some controversy. In the 20th century, drainage was attempted to grow celery, layers of peat were harvested, and Black Spruce trees were sold for Christmas trees.

In 1957 a movement to preserve the bog was initiated by Dr. W.W. Judd of the University of Western Ontario. The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority acquired the site in 1967 from the Sifton Construction Company. The City of London later purchased additional lands.

Bog Formation
The bog is a product of glaciation. As the last ice sheet melted 13,000 years ago, a large block of ice broke off and settled in the glacial till (sand and gravel). When the block melted it left a kettle lake, cut off from any watercourses. Sedges, mosses and other plants gradually colonized the margins of the lake. Due to the cool, oxygen-poor conditions, when dead plants sank to the bottom, they did not break down fully, but became compressed as peat.
In time, the accumulating peat formed a semi-floating mat that crept from the outer edges of the bog towards the open water at the centre. As the mat became consolidated, Sphagnum mosses, heath plants and spruce trees grew on the drier hummocks.