Oak Ridges Moraine

The northern half of Richmond Hill is located on a natural feature called the Oak Ridges Moraine. It stretches more than 160 km from the Niagara Escarpment in the west to the Trent River in the east. It is the thickest piece of glacial material anywhere in Ontario, created about 13,000 years ago during the last ice age. The Oak Ridges Moraine is known for its rolling hills, forests, meadows, wetlands, ponds, river valleys and lakes, which provide habitat for many plants and animals.

What's special about the Oak Ridges Moraine?

The things that make the Oak Ridges Moraine special, including its water, its wildlife, and its contributions to surrounding populations and natural areas, also make it worth protecting.


The Moraine stores a very large volume of water underground (groundwater) that is an important source of drinking water for many people in Ontario. In Richmond Hill, this water also feeds into the Humber, Rouge and Don River systems. These systems all flow south to Lake Ontario. The soils of the Moraine also clean our water by filtering rain and melted snow.


The Moraine is home to some rare animal species, which are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The following are species at risk or of special concern:

  • Jefferson Salamander
  • Monarch Butterfly
  • Bobolink
  • Snapping Turtle
  • Butternut
  • Shy Bulrush
  • Bank Swallow
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Barn Swallow
  • Blanding's Turtle
  • Acadian Flycatcher


Protecting the natural features and functions of the Oak Ridges Moraine is a priority for governments, private citizens and environmental interest groups. In 2001, the Province of Ontario passed the Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Act and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, which place restrictions on the development of land on the Moraine.

Oak Ridges Corridor Conservation Reserve

The Oak Ridges Corridor Conservation Reserve is a 607-hectare natural area between Bathurst Street and Leslie Street, just north of Jefferson Side Road. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) manages the reserve. It's home to a number of wetlands, forests and kettle lakes, including Bond Lake, Swan Lake and Phillip's Lake. Residents can enjoy the park with a walk or bike ride along the trail.

For more information email the TRCA or call 416-661-6600.