Sudbury·Backroads Bill

Where is Ontario's tallest tree?

Northern explorer Backroads Bill takes readers and listeners to some of the special places found on the backroads of northern Ontario.

The eastern white pine can grow to more than 40 metres tall over several hundred years

One of the tallest trees in Ontario. This white pine can be found in the White Bear Forest near Temagami. (Bill Steer/Supplied)

Northern Ontario explorer Bill Steer says there are three trees in northeastern Ontario that are contenders for the province's tallest. 

For years the tallest tree in Ontario could be found in the Kirkwood Forest north of Thessalon. It sprouted in 1642 and grew to a height of 49.4 metres and diameter of 1.4 metres. It crashed in a windstorm in 1997.

Backroads Bill Steer (Supplied by Bill Steer)

The Ontario Forestry Association compiles an honour roll of trees detailing the tallest of each species in the province. It lists a pine tree in Haliburton Forest southeast of Algonquin Park as the tallest, at 45.1 m. However, the OFA is always looking for nominations for trees that may be taller. 

Bill Steer says there are at least three mammoth white pine trees in the North Bay area that could vie for title.

"All have the height and diameter to be worthy contenders," he said.

The trees are part of old growth forests near the communities of Temagami, Rutherglen and Marten River Provincial Park.

Bill Cole, a research scientist with the Ontario Forest Research Institute in Sault Ste Marie, said he believes preservation is more important than determining which tree is tallest in the province.

"Old growth forests often represent unique refuges for biologicial diversity and ecological complexity," Cole said.

"We have an interest in old growth white pine because of its place in the history of Ontario and central Canada during European exploration and development."

The eastern white pine can grow to more than 40 metres tall over several hundred years.

CBC columnist Bill Steer says there are at least three mammoth white pine trees in the North Bay area that could vie for title. The trees are part of old growth forests near the communities of Temagami, Rutherglen and Marten River Provincial Park. (Google)

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