© Two Rivers Wildlife Park

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History

 

The Two Rivers Wildlife Park is a 500-acre community-run park located where the Salmon River meets the Mira River. The unique geography is such that the two rivers together form natural boundaries that surround most of the park. The land is fertile and the hills are gentle thus an abundance of natural wildlife and plant species adds to the natural beauty of the two rivers.

The land that the Park occupies was of great historical significance as part of the old French Road passed through the property from the Fortress of Louisbourg to other parts of Cape Breton. Stone markers can still be seen in the area dating back to those early days.

In the early 1800s, reports of the lush natural meadows along the Salmon River induced Caleb Huntington to settle in the area. The fields at Two Rivers are a result of farming by several generation of the Huntington family. Large vegetable gardens were grown on 85 acres of the current Park property.

In recent years, the Department of Lands and Forests purchased the Huntington 500+ acres. In 1977, the site was used to host the World Wide Girl Guide Jamboree. This event brought approximately 10,000 visitors from all over the world to the area. It was then decided to turn the site into a Provincial Park and in 1981, the Two Rivers Wildlife Park opened for the first time. While the Province ran the site, it was operated on a seasonal basis only, from May to mid October.

In 1995, the newly named Department of Natural Resources decided to cease its operation of the Park. Rather than see the Park close, the community formed a not-for-profit group to manage the facility. The Two Rivers Development Association is the result of this change in operation. Early in 1996, the Association secured a ten-year lease from the province with an option to renew for ten more years.

Since the Two Rivers Development Association has assumed management of the Park, the Park has undergone many changes. The Park is now open year round. Enclosures for the animals are constantly being upgraded and improved. A playground has been added. A new fish hatchery and three u-fish ponds have been added. Existing trails have been improved and expanded allowing for hiking and cross-country skiing. Paddleboats are available for rental. The Mira waterfront area has been up-graded for swimming. An educational /recreational/administrative building with full kitchen facility has been added. Horse drawn wagon/sleigh rides are a favorite Park activity. Concerts are held during the summer at the Park's outdoor amphitheatre. In 2003, a barn/petting zoo was constructed which will allow Park visitors closer contact with some of the animals. In the summer of 2004, larger and more natural enclosures for the cougar, lynx, bobcat and pine marten are being constructed. In 2004, a beach volleyball court was added at the Mira Waterfront. Two Rivers Development Association became a registered charitable organization in 2004. In 2007, major renovations were done on the 30 year old administration building, adding toilet facilities for the public. A wolf enclosure was added in 2008.

In 2013, Two Rivers furthered the development of an already well-established, family-oriented, educational experience with the inclusion of a campground for both RVs and tents. This not only attracted a different demographic of visitors but it was a greater source of revenue in order to provide the best quality of life for the wildlife housed at Two Rivers.  What first started out as 30 sites of rough camping, located on one of our most commonly used picnic areas, quickly formed into a retreat for those looking to get away for a weekend.

 

And then came 2016. With the completion of a Visitor Information Center, we are fully equipped to provide excellent service to our overnight campers as well as the general public. Included in this new facility, is a brand new admissions kiosk, gift shop stocked with trinkets, collectibles, and snacks, fully equipped canteen, immaculate showers and washrooms, as well as dish washing and laundry facilities. This upgrade came a fully reworked and improved campground, now with 75 serviced sites, newly laid out and extended pads, all located in three separate loops on what used to be Two Rivers' Rolling Hills Field. As such, campers who could never get enough of Two Rivers are now permanent residents as seasonals.