Goodyera repens by Eugene Reimer

gull lake fen pitcher plants
Gull Lake fen pitcher plants by Lorne Heshka

listeria cordata
Listeria cordata by Eugene Reimer

malaxis unifolia
Malaxis unifolia by Eugene Reimer

platanthera dilatata
Platanthera dilatata by Eugene Reimer

platanthera orbiculata
Platanthera orbiculata by Eugene Reimer

spiranthes romanzoffiana
Spiranthes romanzoffiana by Eugene Reimer

Click here for more details on boardwalk costs, construction, and donation page.

brokenhead trail drawing

Click on pictues for larger pictures

amerorchis rotundifolia
Amerorchis rotundifolia by Eugene Reimer

Arethusa bulbosa by Eugene Reimer

arethusa bulbosa
Arethusa bulbosa by Eugene Reimer

Brokenhead pond by Lorne Heshka
calopogon tuberosus
Calopogon tuberosus by Eugene Reimer

corallofhiza trifida
Corallofhiza trifida by Eugene Reimer

corallorhiza striata clump.jpg
Corallofhiza striata by Richard Reeves

c regina brokenhead
Cypripedium regina at Brokenhead by Lorne Heshka

cypripediuma rietinum
Cypripedium arietinum by Eugene Reimer

cypripedium arietinum clump
Cypripedium arietinum clump by Eugene Reimer

cypripedium parviflorum
Cypripedium parviflorum by Eugene Reimer

Cypripedium parviflorum by Richard Reeves

cypripedium reginae
Cypripedium reginae by Eugene Reimer

Cypripedium reginae by Eugene Reimer

Cypripedium reginae by Eugene Reimer
Platanthera hookeri by Richard Reeves

Orchid Habitat Preservation

Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail
text by Nathan Vadeboncoeur and Eugene Reimer

This project has been funded.

Congratulations to Debwendon Inc and the Native Orchid Conservation, Inc. (NOCI) for funding for their project. "The premier noted, Eugene Reimer, a long-time naturalist and board member of Native Orchid Conservation Inc., has donated $600,000 to the Winnipeg Foundation to establish the Eugene Reimer Environment Fund. The fund will provide an annual grant to Debwendon to maintain the Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail. "It brings me great joy and satisfaction to make a contribution towards protecting these wetlands where I spent so many happy hours enjoying and learning about nature," said Reimer."

 It is 563 ha reserve located just 70km north of Winnipeg near the southeast corner of Lake Winnipeg.

c regina brokenhead
Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve with a clump of Cypripedium reginae in foreground.  by Lorne Heshka

This area is of high conservation value. The Brokenhead Wetland contains 28 species of orchids and 8 species of carnivorous plants including 23 provincially rare species.

The Brokenhead Wetland contains a calcareous fen, considered rare in North America. There are an estimated 500 calcareous fens on earth (Sierra Club, 2007). Fens of this type are characterized by a neutral to alkaline ph (7 or higher) and are rich in bicarbonate, calcium, magnesium, and sulfate released from sand or gravel lenses (Bryan, 1993; Bowels et al. 2005). Calcareous fens also have a low availability of nitrogen and phosphorus (Miner and Ketterling, 2003).  Fen wetlands are fed primarily by groundwater springs and thus likely cannot survive a depleted water table. 

Why the need for a boardwalk?

Education is important to stakeholders of the Brokenhead Wetland, especially to the Brokenhead Ojibway.  Developing an educational strategy that minimizes environmental impact can be accomplished through the construction of a boardwalk that will serve as an interpretive trail. The plans in place for the construction of a boardwalk reflect this goal and anecdotal evidence from analogous projects in Quebec suggest that a boardwalk will permit maximal educational value with minimal environmental impact.

Conservation plans that eliminate human activity from the target area can carry a high social cost if that area is a traditiAmerorchis rotundifoliaonal use site for local people (Conklin and Graham, 1995; Sundberg, 1998; Nelson, 2003; Newmann, 2004). Such "fortress conservation" (Nelson, 2003) sites, are not practical in and around many populated areas.  Conservation in areas of traditional use or moderate proximity to settlements may function best as "managed gardens" (Janzen, 1998) where human use is incorporated into the management plan. The Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve is an ideal example of an area that can benefit greatly from becoming a "managed garden".                                                    Amerorchis rotundifolia by                                                                           Eugene Reimer

Janzen (1998) argues that "wild nature" must be incorporated into our society if it is to survive.  Shifting how we perceive nature can accomplish this. By classifying nature as a "garden", society can find value in it even if it does not contribute to "our paycheck" or some other instrumental goal (such as regulating the water levels in Gull Lake). Strict economic valuation is not a good tool for valuing ecosystem services as they exclude cultural and spiritual values (Gatto and de Leo, 2000; Ludwig, 2000) and tend to neglect their potential value to future generations.  The "wildland garden" can transcend strictly economic valuations and grow ecosystem services and biodiversity services, in this case, culture / cultural heritage, a rare ecosystem, and rare plants.  The value seen in those services can help drive conservation as the value of a protected area becomes more salient to the general public.

Part of the Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve that the boardwalk will pass through by Doris Ames

The classification of wildlands as "gardens" includes in it the idea that they should be carefully managed. They can be managed by controlling the biology of an area (active management of the land) and also by controlling use of the land.


The Brokenhead Ojibway have been using this area for approximately 300 years. A treaty was signed in May of 1871 recognizing the land to the southwest of the Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve as the land of the Brokenhead Ojibway people. This land exists, and has existed, as a place of great cultural importance.  It has been used traditionally, and continues to be used today, for harvesting a variety of plants and as a site of spiritual importance.

brokenhead pond
Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve by Lorne Heshka

June 24th, 2005 Premier Doer announced the creation of a new ecological reserve. NOCI has worked since 1998 to have this area protected and it was a happy day when we attended the ceremony at Brokenhead Ojibway Nation. Our organization worked closely with Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, the Ecological Reserves Board, and other stakeholders to make this a reality.

cypripedium arietinum clump
Clump of Cypripedium arietinum at Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve. by Eugene Reimer

Links for more infomation:

For trail design and costs:

To Donate:

Full conservation prospectus for Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve which much of the above information was taken from:

Brokenhead Wetland Trail Brochure

More photos by Eugene Reimer