Welcome to Songwood

Bishop's Mills, Ontario

Songwood is 88 acres of oldfield-farm-turned Managed Forest, backing onto hundreds of acres of County land, part of Limerick Forest. It sits on the traditional territory of the Anishnabek and Haudenosaunee Peoples. We say “miigwech” and “niá:wen” to thank them and other Indigenous Peoples for taking care of this land from time immemorial and for sharing the land with those of us who are newcomers. Songwood has been an FSC-certified forest since 2006.

About Songwood

Originally on the shores of the Champlain Sea after the last Ice Age departed approximately 10,000 years ago, this land reflects the geology of the Grenville Limestone Plain that makes up much of eastern Ontario. After centuries as part of the borderlands between the Algonquin and Iroquois native peoples, the land was surveyed by European settlers in 1791, but the ground conditions were so poor that the first settler did not occupy this property until the mid-1850’s.

Over the next century, the land was cleared and farming was attempted. But because of the shallow soil and wet conditions, the land was not good for farming. By the 1950’s, the fields in the southern end of the property were abandoned, allowing the pioneer varieties of plants and trees to once again spring up.

In 1969, the Graham family purchased the property and began the process of introducing suitable tree seedlings to abandoned fields, to aid in habitat regeneration for wildlife. The only harvesting of the farm’s trees is for firewood, to aid in the development of a healthy ecosystem, and to maintain the trails by which to enjoy nature.

In 2006, the property received FSC certification based on our sustainable forest management approach. Today, we are a proud member of the Ontario Woodlot Association.

planting songwood
cabin songwood

The Studio

In 1980, we helped my brother James build a small cabin in the woods, pouring the concrete slab foundation and using local building materials. From the beginning, it had a stove for heating and cooking, an insulated living area and sleeping loft. Outside there was a small garden carved out of the surrounding forest.

Today, we offer the cabin as a studio retreat, to provide a space to withdraw into nature for a bit, to embrace a little forest therapy. It’s also a place for our five children and eight grandchildren to come home to.

We hope you enjoy your stay.

Book through AirBNB

The Forest Trails

Songwood is 88 acres of oldfield-farm-turned Managed Forest, butting onto hundreds of acres of County land, part of Limerick Forest. It is home to dozens of species of wildlife, including wild turkey, white-tailed deer and other mammals, plants, shrubs and trees. It also provides habitat for a variety of interior forest species of birds, and contributes to the quality of air and water in the surrounding area.

We started making trails on the property in 1969. To date, we have created and maintained over four km of trails winding throughput our 88 acres. The forested area in the southern section has mature trails leading through ice-storm damaged cedars, towering red pines, tamaracks and birches that have reached the end of their life cycle, and young maples that are just getting started. A small offshoot trail leads you to the base of a century-old white pine tree one person can’t put their arms around.

The trails to the north lead you past our field labyrinth – the perfect spot for dark skies viewing - through a wetland area, and forests of spruce and pine planted in 1971, 1995, 2002 and a new forest of white pine just planted in 2019. Hikers will enjoy witnessing how the planted trees blend in and compete with the pioneer species of poplar, cedar, birch, oak, hemlock and tamarack slowly regaining their original territory.

Layered clothing and suitable footwear are recommended, along with tick protection.

Maps of the trails are available below.

trails songwood