The Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary covers 9,000 hectares of managed wooded uplands, goose pasture, crop land, waterways, and marshlands along the shore of Lake St. Lawrence, which is part of the St. Lawrence River system in Eastern Ontario. The main public entrance to the Sanctuary is located on County Road 2 a few kilometers west of Ingleside, Ontario and 14 kilometers east of Morrisburg, Ontario.
During the ice age, the area that is now the Sanctuary was covered with huge glaciers. When these glaciers melted away, seawater flooded in to form the Champlain Sea. Eventually the sea drained out into the St. Lawrence River giving way to a forest and leaving the land much as we see it now. With the settlement in the 1800s, the land was cleared for crops and pasture.
The Sanctuary Visitor Centre features interesting displays and offers a variety of souvenir and nature related gift items. The centre has been constructed taking into consideration the importance of conservation and sensitivity to the environment.
Officially opened in 1961, the Sanctuary is operated by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission. The whole region around the Sanctuary was drastically changed with the construction of the Seaway Hydro Power Project back in the late 1950's. The Hydro Project uprooted whole villages, landscapes, foliage, wildlife, and human lives. It seemed that respect for the environment and the natural state of the riverbanks, breeding habitats, and established feeding areas was non-existent. To conserve a section of this region for future generations was a main reason why the St. Lawrence Parks Commission was given authority over the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
The St. Lawrence River-Great Lakes Basin is one of the most populated and industrialised areas in Canada. Within this area the Sanctuary has been working to create an awareness of the natural environment and habitat that surrounds us and why every plant and animal is an integral part of our planet. The Sanctuary efforts to educate never end, whatever the time of day or season of year, because people are continually visiting it. This makes every program or event, in its own way, vitally important.