Waves crash on the northwestern Lake Superior coast, ON (Photo by John Anderson)

Waves crash on the northwestern Lake Superior coast, ON (Photo by John Anderson)

Powder Islands

Powder Islands, ON (Photo by Murray Whybourne)

Powder Islands, ON (Photo by Murray Whybourne)

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has now conserved a key site in Lake Superior — the 399-acre (162 hectare) Powder Islands. The Powder Islands are located less than one kilometre off the coast of Lake Superior near Rossport in the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. These two islands are almost completely forested, supporting bald eagles and rare Great Lakes coastal wetlands.

The Powder Islands are comprised of two large islands: Anguros Island (299 acres/121 hectares) and a smaller, unnamed island located to the west (100 acres/40 hectares). These islands are almost completely dominated by Lake Superior coastal forests.

Ecological significance

Situated where an evergreen forest overlies the Canadian Shield, the Boreal Shield is the largest of Canada’s terrestrial ecozones.

The boreal forest region is one of the world’s largest biogeoclimatic zones. Encircling the North Pole, it shares a similar climate, geography and biodiversity. It is in fact Canada’s largest ecosystem, stretching across all provinces except New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia. It covers 1.8 million square kilometres and encompasses almost 20 percent of Canada’s landmass. Its myriad rivers and lakes account for 22 percent of Canada’s freshwater surface area.

Close to 75 percent of the country’s forests are found in the boreal zone.

The Powder Islands are located within the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area — the largest protected freshwater area on Earth. Conservation of the Powder Islands will further the protection of this National Marine Conservation Area and will prevent land use activities that could impact the area. The Powder Islands are also very close to Wilson Island, NCC’s largest project in Lake Superior totalling over 4,700 acres (1,900 hectares).

Collaboration in action

NCC’s focus on collaboration is underlined by our relationship with the Pays Plat First Nation. One of our core ways of connecting and building collaboration is to ensure a full-time intern (often from the Pays Plat community) is a physical presence in the area during the summer months. We have been working in the area for 15 years, and continue to build on connections with Pays Plat, other First Nations, and forestry, mining and energy sectors.

The Pays Plat First Nations have identified the Powder Islands as an important cultural site and the group will be a partner in NCC’s long-term management of the property.


Characteristic forest types include dense coniferous forests of white spruce, jack pine and balsam fir, and mixed forests with spruce, fir, poplar and white birch.

The islands support many other habitat features including steep cliffs, cobble beaches, small inland lakes and Great Lakes coastal wetlands.

Rare species that have been documented here include bald eagle and a small blue wildflower called Franklin’s scorpion-weed.

The shallow waters around these islands provide spawning habitat for lake trout and lake whitefish, and stop-over habitat for migrating waterfowl.

A natural partnership

Thanks in part to generous funding from TD Bank Group (TD) through the TD Forests program, this property has now been protected in perpetuity. Read the news release here >

The TD Forests program will increase the amount of forested lands protected and cared for by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Over five years, the program has conserved an average of more than two football fields a day. TD and NCC are also engaging more Canadians in the mission to conserve our forests, which will safeguard not just the trees, but all the living things that rely on forested habitats.