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Mallard Lake Dam and Mallard Lake

Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1961/10/31

Mallard Lake and dam; Ministry of Environment, BC Parks, 2010
Mallard Lake and dam
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Other Name(s)

Mallard Lake Dam and Mallard Lake
Mallard Lake and Dam

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2011/02/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Mallard Lake Dam is an earthen dam, approximately four metres high and 70 metres in length, located in Mallard Lake at the eastern end of a low valley at the north end of Newcastle Island, across the harbour from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The historic place consists of the earthen dam, the lake created behind it and the associated wetland.

Heritage Value

The Mallard Lake Dam, Mallard Lake, and the wetland are significant for their engineering, recreational and natural history values.

The dam and lake are located at a point where a low valley at the north end of Newcastle island drained naturally into the ocean via a small stream. At some time after 1890, the earthen dam was constructed at the eastern end of the valley, creating Mallard Lake and the adjacent wetland, the result of which was a supply of fresh water on the island. The impoundment may have been used as a water source for steam generation for the Newcastle coal mine, or to supply fresh water for the herring salteries or the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Steamship resort at the south end of Newcastle Island. Today the lake, dam and wetland are valued as a regional destination for watching birds, beaver and muskrat. It is believed that the beaver and muskrat were first introduced in the 1930s for the benefit of CPR resort visitors.

The dam is valued as a representative of many small-scale engineering and water management endeavours that have been constructed to create freshwater supplies on the Gulf Islands. The use of the lake and dam for wildlife viewing is, however, unique, as the more typical reason for the construction of these small dams was to ensure a supply of potable water.

The dam has additional recreational values, as the top of the headwall has become part of the trail circulation system, connecting the interior Mallard Lake trail to the northern end of the Shoreline Trail. It is currently closed due to instability and erosion of the headwall, an example of nature triumphing over human endeavour.

Source: Ministry of Environment, BC Parks

Character-Defining Elements

Key character-defining elements of the Mallard Lake Dam and Mallard Lake include:

-the location of the dam in a low valley
-the lake and supply of fresh water created by the dam
-the earthen material construction of the dam
-the created wetland with high wildlife values
-use of the site by waterbirds, wildlife and species at risk
-use of the site as a hiking destination
-use of the site for wildlife viewing and birdwatching



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Province of British Columbia

Recognition Statute

Park Act, s.5

Recognition Type

Provincial Park (Establishment)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Sports and Leisure

Function - Category and Type


Pedestrian Way


Bridge, Tunnel or Other Engineering Work

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Ministry of Environment, BC Parks

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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