Bruce's Caves Conservation Area

Location: Wiarton Ontario
Region: Southwestern
Character: Day use
Length/Size: 7 hectates

Bruce's Caves Conservation Area
By Grey Sauble Conservation

This property lies in the former Keppel Township, just off Grey County Road No. 1, 4.8 km northeast of Wiarton. Bruce's Caves Conservation area consists of 7 hectares of Niagara Escarpment and rock talus, upland hardwoods, wooded swamp and caves.

Bruce's Caves Conservation Area derives its greatest significance from the unique cave formations found along the escarpment face. These caves were formed by the wave action of post-glacial Lake Algonquin, 7,000 to 8,000 years ago. The significance of the cave formations lies in their dramatic illustration of past weathering processes and impresses upon us the magnitude of the post-glacial lake levels. The caves also illustrate the different physical and chemical weathering rates of various sections of the escarpment (soluble limestone and Amabel dolomite).

Background - Wiarton's Hermit
Bruce's Caves was named after a remittance man by the name of Robert Bruce. Following is an article from the Daily Record and Mail (Toronto), March 24, 1908:

A Scotsman named Robert Bruce, who escaped being numbered amongst the Crimean veteran's by deserting from the Scots Guards on the outbreak of war, has died at Wiarton, Ontario, where he has lived a hermit's life for many years.

He appears to have been born on the Orkney Islands, and his age at this death is believed to have been 85 or 90, but no one was ever able to glean more than a minimum of information from him.

When he first arrived in Canada, Bruce settled in Keppel Township in the woods near the present town of Wiarton. In the early years he worked at railway construction in the summer, always returning to live in what in now as Bruce's Caves for the winter. Possessing about 300 acres of land, he had in addition several thousand dollars in an Owen sound bank. In spite of this fact, he spent several hard winters in the county jail, but always paid for his board. It was one of his peculiarities to bathe daily, the year through, in the open air, and he smoked a mixture of forest leaves.

In the bottom of an old trunk after his death was found a fine suit of blue broadcloth, made by a Glasgow tailor, over fifty years ago. In this he was buried. As far as is known, the old man left no relatives.