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1.0 Christie Lake Catchment: Facts

1.1 General/Physical Geography

Drainage Area

65 square kilometres; occupies eight percent of the Tay River subwatershed; one percent of the Rideau Valley watershed.


Christie Lake Catchment resides within part of the physiographic region known as the Algonquin Highlands. In the Tay River subwatershed, this ancient and hilly geologic region is made up of such Precambrian rocks as marble, conglomerates, and dark or colour banded granite-like rocks. A veneer of glacial drift (glacial till, sand etc.) overlies the bedrock.

Municipal Coverage

Rideau Lakes Township: (<1 km2; 0.5% of catchment)

Tay Valley Township: (65 km2; 99.5% of catchment)

Stream Length

All tributaries (including headwater streams): 194 km

1.2 Vulnerable Areas

Aquifer Vulnerability

Mississippi-Rideau Source Water Protection program has mapped only two very small parts of this catchment as a Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas and all of the catchment as a Highly Vulnerable Aquifer (HVA). There are no Well-Head Protection Areas in the catchment.

Wetland Hydrology

A watershed model developed by the RVCA in 2009 was used to study the hydrologic function of wetlands in the Rideau Valley Watershed, including those found in the Christie Lake catchment.

1.3 Conditions at a Glance


There are three aggregate licenses within the catchment along with some sand and gravel areas and secondary and tertiary significance.

Fish Community/Thermal Regime

Warm and cool water recreational and baitfish fishery with 22 species observed in the Tay River (Bolingbroke to Christie Lake) during 2016.

Headwater Drainage Features

Dominated by wetland and natural features with minimal modifications.  

Instream/Riparian Habitat

Tay River (Bolingbroke to Christie Lake): Moderate to high habitat complexity observed throughout the reaches of the system within the catchment. Dissolved oxygen conditions for the Tay River varied along the system for both warm and coolwater species. 

Land Cover Change (2008 to 2014)
Catchment Woodland Crop-Pasture Settlement Wetland
Hectares -2 -1 +2 +1
Land Cover Type (2014)
Catchment Woodland Water Wetland Crop-Pasture Transportation Meadow-Thicket Settlement
Percent 57 17 14 4 3 3 2
Shoreline Cover Type (30 m. riparian area; 2014)
Catchment % Christie Lake % Davern Lake % Farren Lake      % Little Silver Lake %
Woodland 59 Woodland 63 Woodland 63 Woodland  66 Woodland 81
Wetland 31 Settlement 27 Wetland 29 Settlement 31 Settlement 13
Settlement 4 Wetland 5 Settlement 7 Wetland 2 Wetland 4
Crop-Pasture 2 Transportation 5 Transportation 1 Transportation 1 Transportation 2
Transportation 2 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Meadow-Thicket 2 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---


O'Brien Lake % Rainbow Lake % Davern Creek % Tay River      % Streams %
Woodland 81 Woodland 80 Wetland 68 Wetland 55 Woodland 57
Settlement 12 Settlement 11 Woodland 27 Woodland 25 Wetland 37
Wetland 5 Wetland 9 Crop-Pasture 2 Crop-Pasture 11 Crop-Pasture 2
Transportation 1 --- --- Transportation 2 Settlement 5 Transportation 2
Meadow-Thicket <1 --- --- Meadow-Thicket 1 Transportation 2 Meadow-Thicket 2
--   --- --- --- --- Aggregate 2 --- ---

Significant Natural Features

Christie Lake Provincially Significant Wetland.

Christie Lake Regional Candidate Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, Life Science.

Maberly Bog Regional Candidate Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, Life Science.

Species at Risk (Elemental Occurrence)
Status Species at Risk
Endangered Northern Myotis --- --- ---
Threatened Blanding's Turtle Bobolink Eastern Meadowlark Least Bittern
Special Concern Eastern Milksnake Eastern Musk Turtle Eastern Ribbonsnake Snapping Turtle
Water Quality for the Protection of Aquatic Life
Water Quality Source Christie Lake Davern Lake Farren Lake Little Silver Lake O'Brien Lake Rainbow Lake Tay River
Surface Chemistry    Good to Very Good Good to Very Good Fair to Good Fair Fair to Very Good Fair to Good Good to Very Good
Instream Biological --- --- --- --- --- --- Good


Tay River: Benthic invertebrate samples are dominated by species that are sensitive to high organic pollution levels.


Water Wells

Approximately 290 operational private water wells in the Christie Lake catchment. Groundwater uses are mainly domestic but also include livestock and public water supplies.

Wetland Cover

Wetlands are reported to have covered 15 percent of the Grants Creek catchment prior to European settlement, as compared to 14 percent (or 9.0 square kilometres) of the area in 2014. This represents a four percent (or 0.4 square kilometre) loss of historic wetland cover. Fourteen percent of the remaining wetlands are regulated leaving 87 percent (or 7.8 square kilometers) unregulated.

1.4 Catchment Care

Environmental Management

The Christie Lake Association prepared the Christie Lake State of the Lake Report (2009), 2011 Lake Stewardship Guideline (2011) and Christie Lake Brochure (a planned 5 year update of the Lake Stewardship Guide); Farren Lake Property Owners' Association has prepared the Farren Lake State of the Lake Report (2009); Little Silver and Rainbow Lakes Property Owners Association has prepared the Little Silver and Rainbow Lake Stewardship Plan (2018). These plans and reports provide a summary of what is known about Christie Lake, Farren Lake and Little Silver and Rainbow Lakes, along with each lake community’s vision for their lakes and a list of each lake's main concerns and actions to address them.

Development along the Tay River (at its outlet from Christie Lake) is subject to Ontario Regulation 174-06 (entitled “Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses”) that protects landowners and their property from natural hazards (flooding, fluctuating water table, unstable soils) associated with them.

Two Environmental Compliance Approvals in the catchment were sought for a camp sewage works and a waste management site.

Environmental Monitoring

Chemical surface (in-stream/lake) water quality collection by the RVCA since 2003 (see Section 2 of this report).

Benthic invertebrate (aquatic insect), surface (in-stream) water quality collection by the RVCA in the Tay River since 2005 (see Section 3.3.1 of this report).

Fish survey and stream characterization survey by the RVCA on the Tay River in 2017 taking measurements and recording observations on instream habitat, bank stability, other attributes and preparing a temperature profile (see Section 3 of this report).

Twenty-nine drainage feature assessments were conducted by the RVCA in 2016 at road crossings in the catchment. The protocol measures zero, first and second order headwater drainage features and is a rapid assessment method characterizing the amount of water, sediment transport, and storage capacity within headwater drainage features (see Section 3.4 of this report).

Classification of Christie Lake catchment land cover classes using data acquired during the spring of 2008 and 2014 from colour aerial photography (see Section 4.1 of this report).

The Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office has conducted 342 mandatory septic system re-inspections around Christie and Farren Lake, 126 mandatory and voluntary septic system re-inspections on Little Silver, Rainbow and Silver Lake and 42 voluntary re-inspections around Davern Lake, O'Brien Lake and along the Tay River reach in the catchment, from 2004 to 2017 (see Section 5.5 of this report).

Provincial groundwater level and chemistry data is available from a PGMN well located near the shore of Christie Lake (W252).


Thirty-nine stewardship projects were completed by landowners with assistance from the RVCA (see Section 5 of this report).