Jiggens Bluff II (Photo by NCC)

Jiggens Bluff II (Photo by NCC)

Nature Conservancy of Canada announces site with rich human history

December 14, 2016
Oak Lake, MB


Protection of key area for migratory birds in Manitoba

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in Manitoba has announced it is preserving a new area with an interesting story that dates back to the early 1900s.   

The not-for-profit, land conservation organization has purchased approximately 47 hectares (116 acres) of land in the southwest corner of the province.

Located adjacent to the original Jiggens Bluff property, which was purchased by NCC in 1979, the Jiggens Bluff II site contains globally significant habitat for waterfowl and wetland birds and is located within the Oak Lake/Plum Lakes Important Bird Area (IBA).

In total, the conservation area has at least 224 different bird species, including tundra swan, loggerhead shrike and golden eagles. Colonies of Franklin’s gull have also been seen in the northern part of the area. The property is home to the COSEWIC-designated Bobolink (threatened). Birds are attracted to the property's wet meadows, with fresh water cordgrass, rough horsetail and multiple sedge species. There is also a freshwater coastal marsh.

Human history

The Nature Conservancy of Canada purchased the property from George Matheson, who learned the rich history of the property from his father, Dr. J. Murray Matheson.

Previously home to The Oak Lake Farming and Ranching Association, the 12 members ran a duck hunting venture from the site and would stay at the lodge located on the property.  

In 1914, the first “known” pair of Hungarian partridge was imported to the lodge. The pair is now with Matheson, but other mounted birds that were in the lodge are located in the B.J. Hales Museum in Brandon.

The lodge is said to have had some interesting guests. One notable person was William Jennings Bryan, who was the prosecutor in the 1925 trial of John Scopes, who introduced the Darwinian theory of evolution in his teaching.  

The Jiggens Bluff II conservation project was supported by funding from the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, the Government of Manitoba and other generous donors. This project also represents a contribution to NCC’s commitment to the conservation of wetlands and waterfowl habitat through the implementation of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.


Previous owner George Matheson recognized the worth of the property as a piece of Manitoban’s natural heritage. “I wanted the land to remain in Canadian hands as a heritage for all. My father’s group in the Lodge had an offer from Americans who wanted to establish a hunting lodge on the marsh of Oak Lake. They declined this very generous offer because they wanted the land to stay in Canadian hands.”

“As we celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Migratory Birds Convention, I am proud that our Government is acting to support local efforts to protect migratory bird habitat here in Manitoba.”
Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change


The Nature Conservancy of Canada is Canada’s leading not-for-profit private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the plants and animals they sustain. Since 1962, NCC has helped to protect 2.8 million acres (more than 1.1 million hectares) across the country.

The Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership managed and directed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). To date, $345 million has been invested in the NACP by the Government of Canada to secure our natural heritage. Additionally, more than $500 million in matching contributions has been raised by NCC and its partners.

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