Highlighting Ontario's Natural Wonder: the Oak Ridges Moraine!

Formed over 12,000 years ago by advancing and retreating glaciers, the Oak Ridges Moraine currently forms the watershed divide between Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe, and is the headwaters to more than 30 rivers.

Feb 05, 2020   •   Economic Development, News

A key natural heritage system due to its hydrological significance, the Oak Ridges Moraine was formed over 12,000 years ago by advancing and retreating glaciers, the Oak Ridges Moraine currently forms the watershed divide between Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe, and is the headwaters to more than 30 rivers. Due to it’s location and formation, the aquifer located below the Moraine contributes to both local and regional ground water flows; making it an important asset for Ontarians.

Beyond being both a natural and essential resource for ground water flows, the Moraine is also home to a variety of diverse vegetation and wildlife species. In fact, the Moraine is home to over 1-thousand plant species; 30 species of reptiles and amphibians; 51 mammal species; 73 fish species; and 74 species of butterfly—just to name a few!


Here are a few other fun facts to help further highlight this amazing natural landscape:

  • There are 32 municipalities located within the Moraine.
  • The Moraine is home to 9 conservation authorities.
  • Over 40 non-government environmental organizations reside within the Moraine.
  • There are 125 species of moss found within the Moraine.
  • 70 dragonfly/damselfly species can be found within the Moraine.
  • 88 species found within the Moraine are provincial or national species at risk.

An irreplaceable resource for Ontarians, the Oak Ridges Moraine provides what matters most - food and water.

Also part of the Oak Ridges Moraine is Holland Marsh, which is referred to as 'Ontario's Vegetable Basket' because it produces not only a large volume of fresh vegetables for Ontarians to eat, but a wide variety of them as well. 

Perhaps most importantly, the Oak Ridges Moraine represents the collaborative spirt of Ontario. While an ancient glacial relic itself, decades of various community-organized conservation efforts around the Oak Ridges Moraine date back to the 1940s, making the Moraine every bit a successful "social innovation" as much as an environmental initiative. Protecting the Oak Ridges Moraine from development has become a proud Ontario tradition for generations!

The reason for this continued pressure is due to the rapid population growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. As Canada's fastest growing region, nearly 9 million Ontarians (slightly less than 1/4 of Canada's population) reside within a 20 minute drive of some part of the Greenbelt - and that number is set to explode to 13.5 million people by 2041. As the Greater Toronto Area continues to grow and expand, the calls for access to more land will grow, but the Oak Ridges Moraine is so much more valuable to the Greater Golden Horseshoe than simple buildable land.

It feeds our families fresh locally-grown vegetables, it provides us with clean drinking water (over 20% of earth's fresh water is located in the Great Lakes water system, and over 6 million Ontarians depend on the Oak Ridges Moraine for clean water), it keeps farmers and food producers in business powering Ontario's economy,  and it provides us with idyllic natural space which connects us to the timeless wonders of a living and breathing ecosystem as complex as the Oak Ridges Moraine.