Pembroke

Pembroke (2011 population 16,146) is a city in the province of Ontario, Canada, at the confluence of the Muskrat River and the Ottawa River in the Ottawa Valley. Pembroke was incorporated as a town in 1878 and as a city in 1971. It was named seat for Renfrew County in 1861. This set the stage for construction shortly thereafter on the Renfrew County Courthouse, which was finished in 1867, and the arrival of many civil servants, much wealth and much construction. In the 20-year period following 1861, Pembroke basically became the city it is today in terms of layout and buildings, although many homes and other structures have been lost to time. A fire in 1918 destroyed much of Pembroke's downtown.

Several sites in the city of Pembroke, Ontario, have proven to be very good for viewing common birds as well as finding uncommon migrants and vagrants. Most of this good birding opportunity is because of the adjacency to the Ottawa River, which originates in central Quebec, flows west to the Ontario border, then south and east to Montreal where it joins the St. Lawrence River. In migration, the Ottawa River becomes a conduit for migrating ducks, shorebirds, gulls and vagrants who usually take a wrong turn somewhere. Spring (April to June) and Fall (August to October) are the good times for migrants. In Spring, Red-breasted Merganser, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck and Horned Grebe can sometimes be seen along the Pembroke waterfront.


The Pembroke Marina is situated beside the mouth of theMuskrat River where it enters the Ottawa. Sandflats appear during low water conditions (July to Sept) at this juncture, which presents habitat for shorebird feeding and resting as well as a roost for gulls, terns and ducks. Caspian Terns, rare in Eastern Ontario, sometimes show up in May and June at the marina. In mid summer Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Canada Goose, American Black Duck and other 'puddle' ducks may appear, depending on water conditions. Some area firsts have appeared here: Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Red Knot, Red Phalarope and others. With low water, birders have found that the mix of birds changes regularly. The presence of thunderstorms and other inclement weather can bring flocks of southbound shorebirds to rest on the flats. Some uncommon gulls have bee seen in spring and fall, such as Thayer's, Ivory, Glaucous, Iceland and Lesser Black-backed.

Pembroke has a beautiful public park that stretches about 2 kilometres along the Ottawa River. The Kiwanas Walkway is a paved path that offers wheelchair access as well as a trail for cyclists, strollers, joggers and walkers. The Walkway connects the marina with Riverside Park to the west. A viewing platform overlooks a small bay. The shoreline is vegetated between the Ottawa River and the Walkway and attracts migrants in Fall. Western Kingbird, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Lincoln's Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow and northern warblers such as Palm and Connecticut have appeared. There is a small forest, dominated by Manitoba Maple, that attracts nesting birds in summer such as Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Cedar Waxwing, Blue Jay, Gray Catbird, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow Warbler and American Goldfinch. Many vines and thick underbrush make this a haven for sparrows such as White-throated and White-crowned from early September. Also watch for American Redstart, Northern Cardinal, Spotted Sandpiper (along the shore) and hunting Merlins and occasionally Perergrine Falcons in September. Canada Geese use the soccer fields for loafing and a Brant or Snow Goose may mix with them. 

(Photo by Brenda Moses)

Pansy Patch Park

Often called the “jewel” of the City, Pansy Patch Park is a 10 acre island park in the heart of Pembroke. Accessed by Dickson Street off Mackay Street, this oasis-like parcel contains some of the finest horticultural land in the County.

Beautiful flower beds, exotic trees, bordered by the Muskrat River, the Park’s terrain is diverse and presents superb opportunities to stroll around in a magnificent natural setting, mountain bike or simply relax on the banks of the River.

Originally privately owned, the park was donated to the City of Pembroke in 1962, and today is maintained by the City with the help of the Pembroke Horticultural Society. It remains a quiet oasis and is a popular picnic area and has over 40 species of trees, perennial flower gardens and majestic weeping willows. Some of the more uncommon species of trees include: Eastern Cottonwood (or a hybrid of eastern cottonwood), Basswood, Butternut, Black Walnut, White Elm, Manitoba Maple and Green Ash
Reference: City of Pembroke website.
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