Our Nature Centre

The Macphail Woods Nature Centre is situated on the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in Orwell, just up the road from the Orwell Corner Historic Village. Please call 651-2575 or email (macphailwoods@gmail.com) for more information or to organize a tour of the Macphail Woods Nature Centre or the forestry project.

From humble beginnings

The Nature Centre occupies the barn at the Macphail Homestead. The building was in poor shape when we began the project in 1997. It had a leaking roof, rotting sills and had become a haven for a variety of cats, raccoons and skunks. It made sense to turn the building into an asset to the overall property by creating an affordable learning centre that was warm and welcoming. Though it was always seen as a renovation and not a restoration, we worked with the existing structure and many of the handhewn beams are still visible inside. Most of the wood used to create new floors, joists and wall coverings came from our forest restoration work. The eastern larch on some of the walls and the stairway came from trees infected with bark beetle. The white spruce used for studding, rafters and floor joists, was removed in a series of small patch cuts that were replanted in a mix of native species.

A new look at natural history

The first floor, which is wheelchair accessible, is given over to a large teaching area and a display room full of information and examples of the natural history of Prince Edward Island. The display area takes you through the seasons and includes sections on owls, nests, nocturnal animals, the importance of dead wood, biodiversity and more.

The Nature Centre has already been used by students in our summer program, visiting preschool, public school, college and university students. There is great potential for the building, especially tied in with our extensive nursery, three nature trails, pond, streams, and ongoing forest restoration work. It offers a unique opportunity to all visitors, whether they have come for a full day workshop on mushrooms, an owl prowl or just a look at displays of birds and mammals.

We are also working to develop closer links with Holland College and the University of PEI to share expertise and offer a place to conduct research into a variety of topics and issues.

What we can offer

For schools, we now have facilities for short tours and full day visits. Students learn about the importance of protecting our waterways, the value of native forests, identifying Island flora and fauna, and restoring and maintaining a healthy environment.

Through the forestry project, we have carried out plantings at over a dozen Island schools and can offer help with the planning and planting of native species. We also encourage schools to set up their own nurseries and can provide both seeds and expertise with these initiatives.

For other visitors, we offer site tours and workshops on a variety of topics – from tree pruning to mushroom identification. We also are developing a library with both books and magazines related to natural history, ecological forestry, sustainable agriculture and watershed restoration.

The combination of indoor displays and teaching space and the nearby trails and woodlands that facilitates hands on teaching and environmental restoration is truly unique. Our goal is to create an affordable building that can sustained as part of our ecological forestry project.


The Macphail Woods Nature Centre has been supported by the following:

  • PEI Wildlife Conservation Fund
  • Canada Trust
  • Friends of the Environment Foundation
  • Federal/Provincial Infrastructure Program
  • Province of Prince Edward Island
  • Regional Development Support Program
  • The Sir Andrew Macphail Foundation
  • The Environmental Coalition of PEI
  • Island Tel
  • MacLean’s Ready Mix
  • Ben Livingstone and Sons
  • Jack Pennock & Bev Cody
  • Katherine Lockhart
  • Nancy & Florence MacPherson
  • Tanya Craig
  • Audrey Wilkinson
  • Wendell Profitt
  • Kevin Jeffrey
  • Avalon House Design
  • Barry King
  • Community Museum Association of PEI
  • Kings County Construction

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