The Oldest Tree On Record In Canada

Image from: Friends of Caren

The 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


  1. Vancouver Island is still on my future list of places to visit and explore.

    Should feel like an extension of my own stomping grounds along the coast forests down here.


  2. MDV,

    I lived in Eugene in the 70s for two years. I was in elementary school, and we moved from the Canadian short grass prairie while my dad went to the U of Oregon. This is where I fell in love with the coastal forest and the mighty Douglas-fir trees. Vancouver Island is the closest thing to it in Canada. Get up here.

  3. Anonymous16/2/14

    I read something about the oldest D.F. was harvested in the Great Central Lake area od Vancouver Island,

  4. Anonymous23/5/14

    It's probably long logged now. They prey on that stuff like greed.
    Good luck finding the stump ;) It's in a big clear-cut I'm sure.

  5. Anonymous8/7/14

    We have massive Douglas Fir! Check out Cathedral Grove; a protected forrest on Hwy 4 West, Vancouver Island. Yes, we do harvest trees here, and reforesting begins right away. There is responsible logging here. We have progressed since the 60s

    1. I don't know if you get it. You can't "reforest" old growth. It takes hundreds of years to reach that point.

    2. Anonymous11/8/17

      as a fellow scientist, I agree with you completely,
      but sadly, those logger-heads never did get it, -to them everything is like monty python: "...I'm a lumberjack and I don't care..."?! And our own Government, both federal/provincial are the ones most to blame -for the destruction of Canada's Ancient Forests.

    3. Anonymous6/10/19

      The problem is you seem to think That nobody should ever cut a tree down and that just makes no sense. I'm all for protecting some old growth forests but much of it is at risk for causing massive wild fires and the truth is old growth forests cease to sequester carbon. Responsible logging is important and not only can be done but can be a valuable tool in fighting climate change. Young trees grow very quickly and sequester a lot of carbon so cutting and reforesting large area's of forest and turning it into paper and lumber can be used to sequester large amounts of carbon. There was a paper written that talked about how if each country planted a specific number of trees that have the right land for growing them we could actually turn the carbon clock back many years. They mentioned that eventually these forests would cease to sequester carbon as they age and that's where logging comes in.

    4. Anonymous3/12/20

      While young forests tend to absorb more carbon overall because trees can be crowded together when they’re small, a tree’s carbon absorption rate accelerates as it ages. This means that forests comprised of tall, old trees – like the temperate rainforests of North America’s Pacific coast – are some of the planet’s biggest carbon storehouses.But when forests are logged, their immense stores of carbon are quickly released. A study found the logging of forests in the U.S. state of Oregon emitted 33 million tons of CO2 – almost as much as the world’s dirtiest coal plant.

  6. In AD 381, when our oldest tree saw the sun, the Roman Emperor Theodosius I decanted Christianity the Religion of the Roman Empire.

  7. How do you justify your claim of oldest tree? The Whirlpool Point Limber Pine in Alberta is thought to be 2500 - 3000 years old...

    1. Have they done a ring analysis on the Alberta tree? Maybe that is why this tree is thought to be the oldest, not the Whirlpool tree? Where is the tree you speak of? Limber pines are beautiful, and I would love to know more about them. Thanks for mentioning this - 3000 years is a very old tree.

  8. helped me big here!

  9. It's really pleasant to know about the oldest tree in a certain country.

  10. Anonymous18/10/22

    This is nice

  11. Anonymous29/3/24

    In northern BC, there is a small forest of Pacific Sitca Spruce. The trees are over 400 yrs old and take twenty people holding hands to surround them.


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