algonquin francais
about us

Atocas Bay and the Alfred Bog

Historically, wetlands comprised 50% of the land base around Alfred but European settlement introduced intensive land-use practices including forestry, agriculture and peat mining, which eliminated 80% of the original wetlands. Today the Alfred Bog and this pothole complex, which includes Atocas Bay, are the only significant post-settlement wetlands that remain.
Alfred Bog is eastern Ontario’s largest wetland, providing habitat for several rare species including the bog elfin and numerous orchids. The Atocas Bay pothole area, a geological feature unique to Ontario, has depressions which were most likely caused by a liquification of a 20-metre-deep sand layer below the surface of this once relatively flat, deep lacustrine clay area. This liquification was most likely caused about 7000 years ago by a major earthquake and an up-welling of sand volcanoes.
The various Atocas Bay wetlands range from 1 to 10 hectares in size and include sedge meadows, cattail marshes, shrub swamps and shallow open-water lakes. Of those basins that were drained for agricultural purposes, 80% have been restored due to the efforts of Ducks Unlimited Canada in 2001. Local wetland species include otters, moose, deer, painted and snapping turtles, and several waterfowl species.

Riverside Neighbours

English-speaking settlers came to Alfred County in 1800 and settled near the Atocas stream but it was the French from Vaudreuil QC, who followed that soon formed the majority of the poplulation. From this small settlement great quantities of pressed hay were shipped overseas to feed the English cavalry during the Boer War in South Africa, 1899 to 1902. Today, Alfred is known as the French Fry Capital of Canada.
Alfred College, built in 1933 as a rehabilitation centre for young offenders, houses the Alfred College of Agriculture and Food Technology that is affiliated with the University of Guelph. It is the only French-language agricultural teaching and research institution in Ontario. In 1849 Pierre Lefaivre settled in this dense forest of oak, cherry, maple, ash and elm. By 1867, a settlement of 60 settlers was established and the first of a series of sawmills was erected on Presqu’ile Point.
For over 30 years the Lefaivre docks were the focal point of the community. Steamboat passengers, merchandise, pressed hay and livestock came and went from this point on the Ottawa River. Each fall the docks were lined with barrels of molasses giving the impression that the locals ate nothing else, and thus were named ‘les mangeux de mélasse’ – the molasses eaters. In 1860 the Prince of Wales stopped in Lefaivre on his way to Ottawa to lay the cornerstone for the new Parliament Buildings.