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Hamilton Marsh


5 minutes from Qualicum Beach

Hardest Working Largest Wetland complex supporting wildife and humans alike!

Hamilton Marsh is the most prolific waterfowl brood marsh on this part of Vancouver Island.  It’s the largest body of water in the French Creek Watershed on which thousands depend and also contributes to the Little Qualicum Watershed.  Over 120 species of birds have been recorded there. A paper has also been published regarding dragonflies there: The Odonata of Hamilton Marsh. 


Most importantly it is privately owned and for many decades the community has wanted the entire 360 hectares kept as a wildlife preserve.


For the Water

For the Wildlife

For the future

Watch our movie

Several years ago a group of engaged citizens and kids who love Hamilton Marsh and see its values – put together this amazing video.

We hope that you can see why we want to save the entire wetland ecosystem – the whole 360 hectares.

Where is Hamilton Marsh Located?

Preserve the entire 360 ha ecosystem

As the population in our region continues to grow and displace
native species, protecting critical habitats for flora, fauna, and ecosystem services, including water security, is of the utmost importance.

Hamilton Marsh and surrounding wetlands represent the largest body of water in the French Creek Watershed on which thousands of residents rely. Hamilton Marsh is also the most prolific waterfowl brood marsh on this part of Vancouver Island and provides habitat for many species of wildlife.

About Us:

The Hamilton Wetlands & Forest Preservation Society is a non profit society “To support all the stakeholders in preserving Hamilton Marsh and the 360 ha’s that surround it.  We share this dream with many other stewardship groups in the area due to its importance to watersheds, wildlife, and the future.” 

Let’s preserve the entire 360 hectares!

We exist for the following purposes:

“To conserve, protect, enhance, and maintain the ecological integrity of the 360 hectares of lands that comprises the Hamilton Wetlands and Forest; To raise awareness and educate the public on an ongoing basis through providing a centralized platform for communication and participation about the essential values that wetlands and forests provide for wildlife and climate change mitigation.”


To conserve, protect and maintain the ecological integrity of the 360 hectares that comprise the Hamilton Wetlands and Forest.


To integrate conservation and education for a sustainable future for the 360 hectares.  The Society’s goal is to ensure that the ecological integrity of the lands is maintained in perpetuity, and to ensure a sustainable future for all species and humans that depend on the land and the ecosystem services it provides.


To work towards fulfilling objectives that support:

    • Conservation of biodiversity
    • Research and education opportunities
    • Social well being and connection to nature 
    • Partnerships with First Nations

The 360 hectare boundary

 As you can see 360 ha’s is a big ask!  By comparison, Stanley Park in Vancouver is 405 hectares in Size.

We aren’t looking for another Stanley Park. It’s our hope to preserve as much of the interlocking ecosystems as possible, so the wetland can keep providing water storage and filtration values to both the French Creek watershed and the Little Qualicum Watershed.  Wildlife habitat is equally important! The larger wetland and the vernal pools around it contribute to the hydrology of the whole piece of land.

Biodiversity in the Hamilton Wetlands Ecosystem

Click on the posts below to find out more!  Some say we can’t afford to preserve the whole thing.  We think we can’t afford not to!

Over 120 Bird Species have been recorded at Hamilton Marsh

Habitat loss is the number one challenge to bird populations.  Here is a known spot for nesting and migrating birds.


The Odonata of Hamilton Marsh is a published paper about dragonflies at Hamilton Marsh. Thirty species of dragonflies have been recorded, some rare. It’s a conservative number – as many more exist yet to be identified.  The Odonata of Hamilton Marsh was written by Dr. Rob Cannings and John Simaika.  The paper gives lots of information about the wetland ecosystem.

Red & Blue Listed Species

There are a number of red and blue-listed species that have been recorded using the marsh and surrounds including:

American Bittern (blue),Western Screech-owl (COSEWIC & SARA Special Concern; blue), Northern Pygmy Owl (blue), Band-tailed Pigeon (blue), Great Blue Heron (blue), Roosevelt Elk (blue), Common Water Shrew (red-listed).

The marsh and surrounds are also important for Black Bears, all the species of owls in this area.  The Grey Wolf has also been seen in the area.

Habitat Values:

*”Most wetlands are nodes of high biological diversity and support a large number of species and plant communities.  They are extremely productive as breeding and feeding areas for wildlife and offer a variety of habitat niches.  For example, a typical wetland might have a central area of open water that supports ducks and geese, a marsh fringe where herons feed on threespine stickleback, where northwestern salamanders lay their eggs, and a forested swamp margin where black bears feed on skunk cabbage roots in the spring.  Treed wetlands provide nesting sites for species such as woodpeckers and some species of owls.” 

*From brochure now out of print “Saving Wetland Sensitive Ecosystems” sponsored by Environment Canada, Province of BC Ministry of Environment, and the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund. 


Flora and Fauna

Flora and Fauna

Plants and Fungi observed at Hamilton Marsh, Master List 2015 to 2018: Hamilton Marsh has the distinction of being a well studied area.  Terry Taylor has put together this comprehensive list of plants and fungi observed in the area.

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Wildlife in and around Hamilton Marsh

Wildlife in and around Hamilton Marsh

Wildlife, Birds, Dragonflies, and Red and Blue Listed Species abound within the Hamilton Wetlands Ecosystem.   One third of Canada’s species at risk depend on wetlands for all or part of their lifecycle.* Birds: Hamilton Marsh is the most productive waterfowl breeding...

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Hamilton Marsh is the largest body of water in the French Creek Watershed on which thousands depend. “LITTLE HAMILTON MARSH" It’s the largest body of water in the French Creek Watershed The wetland is 36 hectares in size within 360 hectares of forest.  “Little...

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Wetlands as Infrastructure

Wetlands as Infrastructure

“Wetlands help to reduce the level of sediments, nutrients and toxic chemicals in the water.  Learning from natural wetlands, many communities now use biofiltration wetlands to remove urban and agricultural contaminants before they enter streams. (In the year 2000)...

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Vernal Pools

Vernal Pools

"Small, seasonal wetlands are important habitats for amphibians, which live in "metapopulations" - i.e., interconnected subpopulations that together sustain the overall population via dispersal between habitat patches, especially in years with unpredictable weather...

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Did you know that Hamilton Marsh is the largest body of water in the French Creek Watershed on which thousands rely AND it contributes to the Little Qualicum Watershed as well? Wetlands are an incredible biofiltration system and helpful in times of drought and flood.

Click the link below for a water map and French Creek Watershed Study

Carbon sink

Did you know that wetlands are a powerful carbon sink?  The more you find out about the power of wetlands and the need to preserve them the better.  Hamilton Marsh is surrounded by vernal pools – a form of wetland. Check out this YouTube video from Ducks Unlimited.


Most Prolific Waterfowl Brood Marsh

One of the biggest challenges for bird species is the disappearing habitat and nesting sites.  Hamilton Marsh is the largest waterfowl brood marsh on central Vancouver Island.  Click the button to read the report of Breeding Waterbirds on Mid Vancouver Island Lakes and Marshes – 1981 and 1996.


The Odonata of Hamilton Marsh (Dragonflies)

This report contains many interesting facts such as the ecosystem and the make up of the wetland itself.  Dr. Rob Cannings  formerly of the Royal BC Museum is an expert on this subject matter, as is his co-writer John Simaika.


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