Image from: Friends of CarenThe longest-living tree on record in Canada is a Yellow-cedar that lived in Canada's oldest forest in the Caren Range on the Sunshine Coast. It was felled in a large clear cut operation in 1980. The tree was 1835 years old. The Friends of Caren discovered the huge stump in 1993. Seen above is a cross section of the ancient tree that the group used to educate Canadians about the importance of the Caren Range ancient forest.
Yellow-cedar is common on Vancouver Island, being right in the prime of its growing range (which extends in a narrow strip along the coast from Prince William Sound in Alaska to the California-Oregon border). It is a high elevation species in most of its range, only growing down to sea level in the north.
A scientific paper written on tree ring analysis of Yellow-cedar on Vancouver Island (Laroque and Smith, 1999) gives these trees the record for the longest living conifers in Canada.
The 'Old List' on this site is a database of ancient trees from around the world. On it the big tree hunter will find a Vancouver Island Yellow-cedar that was dated at 1636 years old. It also includes a Douglas-fir on Vancouver Island that dated at 1350 years old. I would love to know where these trees are, but location data is not given.
On Vancouver Island the Yellow-cedars are at elevation. One location in the south island area that I have enjoyed visiting big, old Yellow-cedar is along logging roads that go up into the hills behind the Jordan River/China Beach area. The forest up here is very different from the forests closer to sea level. They are not as packed with a profusion of life like down below. Up here conditions are harsher and growth takes place at a slower pace. Yellow-cedar shares the slopes and mountain tops with Mountain hemlock and the true firs.
Grab your tree identification guide and get up into the hills to see this amazing senior of the coastal forest. Surely Canada's oldest living Yellow-cedar still stands somewhere on these forest-covered hills. Will you be the person to discover it? Let me know if you do.
If you are on the mainland and wish to visit the Caren Range remnant old growth forest, the directions below will get you there. It is said to be the oldest forest in Canada, or at least what is left of it.
Take Highway 101 for 11 kilometres north of Sechelt. At the bottom of the long downhill stretch just before Halfmoon Bay, turn right onto Trout Lake Road. Proceed up this logging road and fork left at the main junction at kilometre 12. The ancient stand of trees begins at about kilometre 15, with the road running through the stand for about 2 kilometres. The best place to access the forest is to walk downslope 200 metres before the next clearcut. There is no trail, and little walking is required.
Information from: http://www.vancouverisland.com/trails/?id=46