Belfountain Conservation Area Taking Shape

Ariel view of river at Belfountain Conservation Area

It’s been a busy year at Belfountain Conservation Area. We’ve been working hard to complete a critical restoration project that will help protect and manage the natural and cultural heritage at this historic property.  

The project is focused on three key areas of restoration work: a dam and channel restoration, heritage gardens construction, and bridge and trail upgrades.

Aerial view of river and dam and consturction taking place next to river
Aerial view of the completed dam and ongoing heritage gardens restoration

What’s happened so far?

Restoration work began this summer with construction on the dam and channel. Our first task was to lower the dam by one metre and remove the sluiceway (a channel for overflow water to pass through). This allowed us to undertake the needed restoration work on a 180-metre section of the West Credit. This work was critical to improve structural stability.

Dam on the Credit River
View of the completed dam and lower channel

The work was completed by our general contractor R&M Construction. These changes will improve the overall health of the river by increasing flow and cooling the water. This improves habitat for native brook trout.

What’s happening now?

We’re currently restoring and rebuilding trails and boardwalks. This will enhance the overall experience at the park.

Boardwalk construction along the river
Boardwalk construction in progress

In some sections of the boardwalk, we’ve installed micropile supports. They are foundation elements that are used when there are natural obstructions or sensitive ground beside a structure. The micropile supports help stabilize the boardwalk.

Staff building a boardwalk
Installing new micropile supports for the boardwalk

In the park’s heritage gardens, we’re restoring the stone walls and stairs, and rehabilitating the iconic ‘belle’ fountain. These cultural heritage features were original to the property and date back to when it was Mack’s Park. Fountain restoration is being complete by Clifford Restoration. The tiers and basin have been carefully repaired and the fountain will be restored to its former glory, with a new spray design and water circulation system.

Belfountain belle showing restoration work to date
Fountain restoration nearing completion

We’ve added new elements, such as the dry-stone wall and Fox Folly lookout. These latest additions are aligned with Charles Mack’s original English picturesque landscape features. The Fox Folly (sculpture) has been installed along the new boardwalk trail. This sculpture was designed by Brook McIlroy in collaboration with the fabricator, LaFontaine Iron Werks. The fox is a tribute to Sam Brock, Charles Mack’s collaborator and the original builder of the park, who was also an avid trapper.

Sculpture of a fox in a lookout along a boardwalk
Fox Folly sculpture along boardwalk

The dry-stone wall is being constructed by Dean McLellan Stonework in the newly constructed heritage gardens. Dean is a Master Craftsman recognized by the British Dry Stone Walling Association. His team is also working to covert the old swimming pool into a lily pond.

Stone wall next to river
Completed section of the stone wall with Fox Folly Lookout in the background

What’s next?

Our next step in the restoration is to complete the new pedestrian bridge. It will be built off-site by Iron Bridge Fabrication and brought to Belfountain Conservation Area in the coming weeks. Plantings, granular and flagstone trails, and benches are also coming soon. The park is scheduled to re-open in spring 2022 once the restoration is complete.

Learn more about the Belfountain Restoration Project.

Comments (8)

  1. Looks fantastic – thoughtful restoration issues being addressed AND in keeping with the climate crisis thinking that we all need to adopt – can’t wait for Spring to visit.

  2. I hate to be negative, but it looks tacky and out of place with the new stone…. The old park was charming and mythical, and I highly doubt that big pond heated the water much as I used to catch tons of brook there, caught zero last time out. It actually provided lots of habitat, now gone. As for lowering the dam, that seems like a good idea, but hopefully trout and salmon can get up now, again I doubt it, but hopefully I’m misinformed…. I hope the plants grow in by the river and the park looks good in a couple years, but to me so far seems like a fail, us humans aren’t doing to well these days… I’m not trying to be negative on purpose, but so far unfortunately unimpressed. Joe

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