MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre - Profile

On average, 19,000 students attend MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre annually.

The primary focus of MacSkimming is to provide an opportunity to Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) and non-OCDSB students to explore, experience, appreciate and learn about natural science and outdoor activities in an outdoor setting.

The MacSkimming “outdoor classroom” consists of 425 acres, 254 acres of which is designated by Environment Canada as Beckett’s Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

The MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre is located in the east end of Ottawa off Highway #174. 

MacSkimming has four Field Centres spread across the site:

o Forest Edge

o Trails End

o Pioneer Village

o Waterfront and Main Office


The MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre opened in 1967 as a school within the Ottawa Public School Board.


MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre was named after William MacSkimming, who was the Director of Education for the Ottawa School Board at the time that the Centre was initiated in 1967.

Overtime, the Centre’s programs have evolved and expanded to provide curriculum-based experiential learning in natural science, geography, Canadian history, team-building and outdoor skills for students across the Ottawa School Board and later the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). The Centre’s programs are now open to other boards, community groups and members of the public.

Since amalgamation of the Ottawa and Carleton Boards, the MacSkimming and Bill Mason Centre have worked together to offer a wide range of programs and activities for OCDSB and non-OCDSB students and community groups.

 OCDSB Outdoor Education Centres provide curriculum–based and outdoor programs for students and community groups. Centre staff strives to provide quality, safe, progressive hands-on learning experiences in a natural surroundings.


Some examples of the programs that are offered at the centre:

o Grade 2: Growth and Changes in Animals

o Grade 3: Early Life in Canada

o Grade 4: Habitats and Communities

o Grade 6: First Contact in the New World

o Grade 7: Cross-country Skiing

o Grade 9: Personal and Group Development


MacSkimming’s programs are designed to:

o Complement and extend the Ontario curriculum

o Immerse participants in nature’s outdoor classroom through direct experience

o Promote an appreciation and understanding of basic ecological processes.

o Nurture understanding, respect and appreciation for self and others.

o Stress the basic attitudes necessary for safe, progressive outdoor experiences throughout all seasons.

MacSkimming Centre is fortunate in having an extraordinarily diverse site, including a provincially significant wetland by the Ottawa River, agricultural fields in series of succession, red maple swamps and mixed mature forests. Students of all grades participate and explore the on-site ecological systems found in the outdoor classroom. 

Here is a small list of the biodiversity that consider MacSkimming Centre, a habitat: 

American beech Yellow-spotted salamander Red-belly snake
Black tern Moose Star-nosed mole
Pink lady slipper Giant puffball Christmas fern
Barred owl Bobolink Small-winged blister beetle
Striped maple Long-nosed gar British soldier lichen

The Centre has provided learning opportunities in other ways as well. International students and teachers have visited the Centre. Student teachers from colleges and universities often spend extended time at MacSkimming and Bill Mason, developing and delivering programs. Coop students at the secondary level and Katimavik participants have served as volunteers at the Centre, learning about the field of environmental education.

The Centre employs four full-time Outdoor Education Instructors, a Program Site Administrator, an Office Administrator, a Supervisor of Maintenance, two Custodians and a Centre Coordinator (Most of the staff work for both OCDSB Outdoor Education Centres).

The Centre Coordinator reports to the Principal of Continuing Education.

MacSkimming employs Casual Outdoor Education Instructors for the months of May, June, September and October.


email inquiries? please contact us at: [email protected]

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