[tbd] Bilby Natural Area

Home to a colony of beavers, healthy bird populations and ungulates, Bilby has been an example of volunteer stewardship since the early 1980’s. Unfortunately, OHV disturbance continues to be a problem for the area.

Post Office Location Marker, Bilby, 2020-12-11 (FPotter)
Post Office Location Marker, Bilby, 2020-12-11 (FPotter)

Map of the Area

Any maps and map views are for general information only. Do not rely on them for navigation or to determine legal boundaries.

Other Information

Upland aspen-balsam forest, with rose & beaked hazelnut shrubs, covers most of this site; small depressional areas contain willow wetland and black spruce peatland; grassy meadows & occasional stands of mature white spruce are also present. Bird species include northern oriole, rose-breasted grosbeak, least flycatcher, red-tailed hawk, ruffed grouse, boreal chickadee, dark-eyed junco, hermit thrush, red-breasted nuthatch, savanna & clay-coloured sparrow. Ponds that form behind beaverdams provide habitat for blue-winged teal, great blue heron & spotted sandpiper; standing dead trees along the creek provide nesting sites for woodpeckers & such tree-nesting ducks as bufflehead and common goldeneye, as well as perches for hawks & owls (Alberta Parks web site, 2012).

SITE OVERVIEW. Bilby Natural Area encompasses 126 ha southeast of the town of Onoway. Its official access points are at two openings on the west side of Range Road 14, or just south of the railroad tracks on Range Road 15. Kilini Creek is a major feature in the northwest part of the natural area. This fastflowing, wide, shallow stream winds through extensive sedge meadows and drains various dams, the work of generations of beavers [1].

NAME ORIGIN. Bilby was originally a railway stop on the Canadian Northern Railway with a general store and a water and coal station for the trains. The track was laid 1912 and the hamlet was named for a company engineer called ‘Wilby’. Unfortunately a spelling error resulted in the name ‘Bilby’. The one room school house closed in 1952 and the train station ceased service in 1961.Signs about Bilby’s history can be found in the former townsite [2, 3].

KIDS CAMP. The natural area is to the south of the train tracks which runs south of Devil’s (Matchayaw) Lake. Camps for kids and cabins were created in the area and were serviced by the train until passenger service ceased. While the hamlet, post office and general store have disappeared; there is an estate and the natural area bears the original name (okay, not the original which was Wilby, but close) [4].

OHV DAMAGE. A site visit in 2020 showed extensive damagy by off-highway-vehicles (OHV). Curiously, a number of vehicles have been abandoned in the site as well. Some very weathered and other newer and perhaps dumped in the last few years.

Site Statistics

Site NameBilby
Site TypeNatural Area
SubtypeOrder-in-council (OC)
Natural Region(s)Dry Mixedwood
O.C. No. (Land Ref. Manual)378/87
PASite ID (Map Ref #)55
Site # (Parks Website)310.4
Total Area125.62 ha. (310.40 ac.)
Recreation Activitiesbirding, hiking – front country
Operated ByParks Division
Notes and Comments
Statistics and Details for Bilby


The following links are provided as a courtesy but are not verified or endorsed by SAPAA. Clicking on the link will cause you to leave the SAPAA website. Primary source of information is: Bilby Natural Area | Alberta Parks (2022-05-01).

  1. A Profile of Bilby Natural Area, #23 October 2010
  2. “Bilby.” Placard at former townsite, n.d.
  3. Bilby Remembered (Unpublished), n.d.
  4. Reflections on Lake Matchayan. Edmonton, Alberta: Lake Matchayan Book Club, 1982.
  5. Site Visit, 2020-12-11, unpublished, F.Potter.

Editing, Review and Silence Procedure

  1. FRANK: Publish page
  2. HUBERT/PATSY: Assign page for editing by update tbd in the Title (4-
  3. Review for readability and alignment to SAPAA organizational reputation.
  4. Best available image
  5. Review for accuracy including:
    1. Correct map and site statistics
    2. Area size is correct
    3. Standards (e.g. use of hyphens, spelling, etc.)
    4. References are accessible and and notes match
  6. Review for formatting, e.g.: Centered captions, No empty blocks
  7. TEAM: Last walk through
    1. Any final discussion or notes
    2. Remove [name] from title
    3. Add to log book for silence procedure
    4. Delete these notes.

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