Journeys in ancient and old growth forests

Ontario’s Old-Growth Forests: a Guidebook

CRW_3155Ontario’s old-growth forests: a guidebook complete with history, ecology, and maps was published in early 2010 with support from AFER. It has detailed history and ecology information, essays written by various experts, and it includes trail and canoe access information for 59 old-growth forests throughout the province.

These forests are found in all of Ontario’s forest regions: deciduous (Carolinian), great lakes – St. Lawrence, and boreal. Also included are ancient cedars – dwarfed cliff-growing trees that can reach over 1,300 years in age.

“If you want to learn about old growth — which is not just old trees, but old ecosystems with old trees — this is the book.”

Brian Back,

“Before the Europeans began heavy logging, oaks, red and white pines and spruce of herculean proportions towered over central Canada. Delving into the history of these woodlands, Henry and Quinby explain not only what happened to them but also where and why there are still some tracts of majestic old-growth trees. In between detailed descriptions of boreal and Carolinian forests, there are sketches of everything from the types of mushrooms found in Ontario to the life cycle of the blue-spotted salamander, whose larvae are responsible for eating 98 percent of the mosquito larvae in ponds where they live! Although the maps and graphics leave something to be desired, the wealth of information in this book makes up for it — and will make you want to get outside and explore Ontario.”

Emma Lehmberg, Canadian Geographic

Buy Ontario’s Old-Growth Forests on

If you’re interested in old-growth forests, you’ll probably want to read or subscribe to our Ancient Forest Journal, check out our list of Ontario oldest trees, or learn how to recognize old trees.

Michael Henry is an associate ecologist and webmaster with Ancient Forest Exploration and Research. He first worked with AFER in the mid-1990’s studying the old-growth pine forests of central Ontario. Since then he has continued to do research and education work in these forests, and forests in other parts of Ontario, Hawaii, and interior British Columbia. Michael designed and constructed the Blueberry Lake Ecology Trails in Temagami, Ontario. He has written reports, trail guides and magazine articles on old-growth forests and other natural history topics. He is the lead author of Ontario’s old-growth forests.

Michael writes about forest issues at, and about sustainable building and broader issues of sustainability at


Dr. Peter Quinby has been studying landscape ecology and conservation since 1980.  As a graduate student at Yale University, he was involved in watershed-ecosystem studies at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire.  For his Ph.D. thesis, he studied the influence of habitat conditions on forest vegetation composition in the upland landscapes of Algonquin Park, Ontario.  For three years starting in 1988, he was Director of Conservation Science and Research Ecologist with the Temagami Wilderness Society.  In 1992, he founded and continues to operate the non-profit organization, Ancient Forest Exploration & Research, which carries out research and educational activities related to the identification, description, and protection of ancient forest ecosystems in Ontario.  From 1987 to 1989 and from 1990 to1991, Dr. Quinby was Assistant Professor of Natural Resource Management at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, from 1994 to 2000, he was Assistant Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Pittsburgh, from 2000 to 2003, Dr. Quinby was Dean of Natural Resources, Sciences & Liberal Arts at Paul Smith’s College, and from 2003 to 2007, he was Director of the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology at the University of Pittsburgh.  In 2007, he took a senior scientist position with Knight Piesold Consulting in North Bay, Ontario until 2014 when returned to working as a consulting ecologist.  Dr. Quinby is certified as a Senior Ecologist through the Ecological Society of America.  He has published numerous scientific articles and reports addressing the topics of forest landscape ecology and conservation, species at risk, wildlife habitat assessment and suitability, and natural areas management.