Cave Springs is a spectacular property overlooking Lake Ontario on the Niagara Peninsula portion of the Niagara Escarpment. The site, owned by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, has interested visitors and locals alike for generations. It is home to some notable natural and cultural heritage features including a sheer cliff face and talus slope, a wartime hideout, mysterious faces that were carved into the rock, and a nearby Native North American encampment site. There is even a small arboretum containing trees from the Carolinian forest (which naturally occurs in the very southern portions of southwestern Ontario). Cave Springs is also a great location for viewing native wildflowers and plants in the spring and summer.
If the natural and cultural heritage make the property special, it is the cultural folklore surrounding the property that makes it truly unique. Stories of German spies, buried treasure, and magical salt springs have intrigued visitors over the years. For many years Cave Springs even had a resident “Good Witch,” the property’s previous owner Margaret Reed.
Ms. Reed was the recipient of the Calypso Orchid Award in 2002 in recognition for over 30 years crusading for the protection of the Cave Springs area of the Niagara Escarpment. In 1970 she initially undertook the job as unpaid caretaker of the property that today comprises Cave Spring Farm. In 1980 she agreed to a life tenancy and full control of the property. Ms Reed was dedicated to educating people about our history on the land, and the importance of preserving the ecology of the Niagara Escarpment. She voluntarily conducted historical walking tours of the area for schools, the Bruce Trail Club and other interested parties.
Ms Reed has been described as eccentric and was known locally as “the witch of Cave Springs.” Known for her storytelling, Ms Reed wrote six books about the Cave Springs property including Tempest in a Teapot; Secrets of Cave Spring; The Cave Spring Mystique (1 and 2); Great Horned Owls at Cave Springs; and The Carolinian Forest at Cave Springs. She was also known for telling visiting children that she was 300 years old due to drinking Escarpment springwater. Ms Reed lived in her Cave Springs home for 35 years before she passed away in 2005.
Cave Springs has never been officially open to the public since that time, and access to the Bruce Trail portion of the property has been limited. However, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority has recently initiated the process of developing a management plan for the Cave Springs Conservation Area. They aim to protect this environmentally sensitive land and capture all the rich history and environmental information the property holds.
Input and feedback is welcomed throughout the process, beginning with a public open house on April 29that 7pm at Ball’s Falls Centre for Conservation. You can also sign up to receive an email newsletter containing information and updates.