Bonnechere Caves

Murray's Cavern

Useful Information

Location: 8 km from Eganville. Overlooking Georgian Bay, Sydenham Peninsular.
Open: MAY-JUN daily 10-16.
JUL-AUG daily 10-16:30.
SEP to LD daily 10-16.
LD to Thanksgiving Mon-Fri 11, 13, 15, Sat, Sun 10-16.
Fee: Adults CAD 12, Children (4-12) CAD 8, Children (13-17) CAD 9, Children (0-3) free, Seniors CAD 11.
Groups: Adults CAD 8, Children (4-12) CAD 7, Children (13-17) CAD 8.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave Ordovician limestone (450Ma)
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=10 °C
Guided tours: D=1 h.
Address: Bonnechere Caves, Fourth Chute Road, Box 449, Eganville, ONT KOJ 1TO, Tel: +1-613-628-2283 or toll free 800-469-2283. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1853 discovered.
1955 opened to the public by Tom Woodward.
1990 Chris Hinsperger leases the caves.
23-DEC-1993 Tom Woodward dies.
1996 Chris Hinsperger buys the caves.


Five hundred million years ago, this area was at the bottom of a tropical sea. After the last Ice Age, water from the melting ice cut through the silt and soil, working its way down to the limestone bedrock and carving an extensive network of intertwining caverns. Largely unexplored until the 1950s, the Bonnechere Caves are now open from May to October.

In the winter, the river is allowed back in, to continue its work. Visitors to the caves will see how the powerful rush of water has dissolved the limestone walls to scalloped smoothness, creating an eerie and entrancing series of underground passages. The water has also exposed the fossilized bodies of sea creatures, including the ancestors of giant squids. The caves are cool, even on the hottest summer days, so a jacket or long sleeve shirt is recommended.

Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.

Bonnechere Caves were discovered in 1855 by a surveyor, who was amazed that water disappeared into the riverbank. The Bonnechere River flows through the Lanark Highlands, near Eganville it flows underground through the cave to reappear a bit further down. The first exploration took place one hundred years later, in 1955, by the retired World War II flying ace Tom Woodward. He fixed a rope around a tree and abseiled into a sink hole. Soon he opened the cave to the public.

The water, which originally flew through the cave, is now continually removed by four powerful pumps. The cave would otherways be too small for a tour path. Some parts of the cave are really narrow, so this cave is not a good place for the claustrophobic. The flowing water carved horizontal stripes and typical scallops into the walls of the narrow, gorge-like passages. The pumps are turned off during winter, and so the cave again becomes a river cave.

The limestone is of Ordovician age, and contains a lot of fossils. Some of them are prepared by the flowing water and can be seen in the cave walls. Others may be found outside. But the cave itself is much younger. A theory says, it was formed by the much higher amounts of water at the end of the last ice age, some 10,000 years ago. It were the waters of melting glaciers, that formed the cave almost as it is today.