The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in conjunction with Forests Ontario have announced the discovery of Ontario’s tallest tree.
At Ontario’s Biodiversity Summit today, the groups marked International Day of Biodiversity with the discovery of Ontario’s tallest eastern white pine.
It is a magnificient 47 metres, or 154 feet, high and located along the Ottawa River at the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Gillies Grove Nature Reserve. The finding has been confirmed by Forests Ontario’s Honour Roll recognition program. To give some perspective, this tree is taller than a 13-story condominium and Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada and forests specialists recently discovered the hidden gem within the protected forest. Visitors have ultimately been walking by this giant tree for generations.
The Grove pine now joins the many white pine all-stars of Ontario’s forests. These include ancient white pine of Temagami, old-growth pine reserves in Algonquin Park, impressive protected pines in Greenwood Lake Conservation Reserve west of Thunder Bay, and the many great stands and outstanding individual pines that adorn our landscape.
In spring 2015, Steve D’Eon, a registered professional forester working for the Canadian Forest Service confirmed that Ontario’s tallest eastern white pine is located in the middle of Gillies Grove. Steve was invited by NCC to follow up on hunches and cursory measurements made a decade earlier. He brought state-of-the-art measuring devices, and another forester as a witness, and measured the magnificent tree to be a whopping 47 metres or 154 feet. By all accounts this is the tallest white pine, and the tallest tree, in the province.
Gillies Grove is a 22-hectare (56-acre) old growth forest that is a beloved natural feature of the Town of Arnprior and adjacent Township of McNab-Braeside. The Grove was once owned by Daniel McLachlin and later by David Gillies, both great figures in the history of logging in the Ottawa Valley. They spared this stately forest of hardwood and pine and it became the wooded promenade for their families and local townspeople for generations. The trees also shaded the magnificent Gillies mansion, itself built from pine from the Grove. Together the woods and home are designated as a National Historic Site.
Forests Ontario’s Honour Roll program is dedicated to keeping record of the largest living trees of each species in the province. Criteria is based on the tree’s height and diameter. Throughout its history, Ontario’s Honour Roll has spurred long-term and growing interest in trees throughout the province. This interest even led to the naming of eastern white pine as Ontario’s arboreal emblem in 1984’s Ontario Bicentennial.
“We are honoured and privileged to discover Ontario’s tallest living eastern white pine standing stoically in the Gillies Grove Nature Reserve, another reminder of the truly remarkable significance and uniqueness of this property,” said Gary Bell, Program Director for Eastern Ontario, Nature Conservancy of Canada.
“Trees are magnificent biological monuments; they represent the largest and oldest living objects in our environment,” said Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario. “We are pleased to recognize the Gillies Grove white pine as the tallest of its species through our Honour Roll program. We congratulate the Nature Conservancy of Canada for their role in maintaining this living link to our past.”
“Arnprior is a Town which offers many wonderful natural attributes to explore and enjoy. The Gillies Grove is one of our beautiful assets; where residents and visitors alike can enjoy the allure of spending time exploring an incredible old growth forest in the Town “Where the Rivers Meet.” We are very proud be able to welcome all our guests to home of Ontario’s tallest pine tree. Please take the time to come see what the Gillies Grove and the Town of Arnprior have to offer,” said Mayor David Reid, Town of Arnprior.
“What a great discovery to have Ontario’s tallest white pine in Gillies Grove,” said Tara Pocket, Vice-President of the Friends of Gillies Grove. “The community worked so hard to protect the Grove years ago -this is a wonderful reward for having stopped this beautiful woods from being developed.”
- White pine is the official tree of Ontario, and the rise and fall of early white pine logging was an important chapter in the province’s history.
- NCC staff have come to start calling the tree the “Gerry White Pine” in memory of Grove volunteer Gerry White, and to recognize in a spectacular way the volunteerism that led to the protection of the Grove.
- An expanse of old growth forest in the north corner of Arnprior, Gillies Grove is a rare remnant of the magnificent forest that once covered this region. The Grove includes sugar maple, yellow birch, American beech, eastern hemlock and Basswood trees. In one section, a stand of ancient white pines thrusts high above the surrounding trees.
- The discovery was jointly announced by NCC and Forests Ontario at the Ontario Biodiversity Summit, running from May 19-22 and celebrating the conservation of biodiversity in the province.