Journeys in ancient and old growth forests

Ontario Old-Growth Forests

A Guidebook complete with history, ecology and maps. Learn how to get to 59 old growth forests throughout Ontario.

Wolf Lake

Wolf Lake is the world's largest remaining old-growth red pine forest, with trees up to 300 years old growing on the shores of clear, aquamarine lakes.

Old Trees

Trees in Ontario can live to be over 1,300 years old. Learn about old trees in Ontario and elsewhere in North America.

Ontario’s oldest trees

Photos of Ontario's oldest trees

Ontario’s Oldest Native Trees, Modern and Historic

Species Status* Age Location Notes Source
Black Spruce
Picea mariana
Living 343 North of Smooth Rock Falls Core had 326 years at breast height (BH). Black spruce takes 17 years to reach BH under good growing conditions. For this tree, 343 years is a conservative estimate. Vasiliauskas 2006
Living 330 Sleeping Giant Prov. Park Roughly 25 cm diameter Girardin et al. In press.
Tsuga canadensis
Living 454 Algonquin Park 430 year count, plus 24 years (average for Algonquin) to reach breast height. This tree was only 50 cm diameter. Vasiliauskas 1995
Living 435 Niagara Gorge Aged by tree core Kershner, 2004
Dead 460 Mark S. Burnham Prov. Park 439 year count at breast height. This tree was 53 cm DBH, and was (recently) dead when cored. Photo Henry 2005
Jack Pine
Pinus banksiana
Living 246 Blue Lake (near Timmins) Girardin et al. In press.
Red Pine
Pinus resinosa
Living 400 Blue Lake (near Timmins) Roughly 65 cm DBH. Growing since 1606 Girardin et al. In press.
Living 385 White Bear Forest, Temagami 55 cm DBH. Core was taken at BH. Quinby et al 1998
Dead 500 near Granite Lake, Kenora This tree was cut in 1992 when a power line was put in to a set of cottages near Kenora St. George 2006
White Cedar
Thuja occidentalis
Living 1316 Niagara Escarpment Dwarfed cliff cedar. Germinated 688 AD. Photo Kelly and Larson 2004, Kelly and Larson 2007,
Larson 2005
Dead 1890 Niagara Escarpment Cliff cedar. The age of this cedar was obtained by crossdating three slices in different parts of the dead bole. Larson 2001, Larson 2005
Living 344 Sleeping Giant Prov. Park Growing in swamp forest. Photo Girardin et al. In press.
Living 326 Lake Abitibi Model Forest Growing in forest on sandy soil Lefort 2005
White Pine
Pinus strobus
Living 486** Dividing Lake Nature Reserve Age reported to be accurate within +/- 23 years Guyette and Dey 1995
Living 388 Quinn Lake, Algoma Growing since 1603 Arbex 1991
Historic >500 Swan Lake, Algonquin Park Preserved underwater Guyette and Cole 1999
Balsam Poplar
Populus balsamifera
Living 207 Vasiliauskas 2005
Fagus grandifolia
Living 204 Backus Woods 51 cm DBH Larson et al. 1999
Black Ash
Fraxinus nigra
319 Lac Duparquet, Quebec In the Quebec claybelt, east of the Ontario border. Tardif and Bergeron 1999
Black Gum
Nyssa sylvatica
Living 510 Bowmans Archery Club Black Gum Grove, Niagara Falls Actual ring count 498 years. Another tree in the area had 401 rings. Photo Torenvliet 2015
Living 407** Backus Woods Actual ring counts in Backus Woods were 300 years. Mccaw 1985
Black Walnut
Juglans nigra
Dead 260 Rondeau Provincial Park Rings were counted from the stump of a windthrown tree Bartlett 1958
Carpinus caroliniana
Living 230 Algonquin Park Actual ring count. Diameter was less than 20 cm. Vasiliauskas 1995
Paper Birch
Betula papyrifera
Living 240 Rainbow falls Prov. Park Roughly 35 cm diameter. Photo Girardin et al. In press.
Red Oak
Quercus Rubra
Dead 280 Rondeau Provincial Park Rings were counted from the stump of a windthrown tree Bartlett 1958
Shagbark Hickory
Carya ovata
Dead 250 Rondeau Provincial Park Rings were counted from the stump of a windthrown tree Bartlett 1958
Silver Maple
Acer saccharinum
Living 380 Backus Woods This was the counted age on a tree core taken from a 51 cm silver maple. Martin and Martin 2001, Martin 2006
Sugar Maple
Acer saccharum
Living 500** Pelham The “Comfort Maple” – The original source of this widely cited age is unconfirmed Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority 2005
Living 460** Peter’s Woods Counted age of the core was 280 years. Tree was 66 cm DBH, length of core was 20 cm. Rings reported as “very narrow throughout” the core. Martin and Martin 2001, Martin 2006
Dead 380 Waterloo County The “Merlau Maple” was growing in Waterloo County from about 1610 to 1990
 Living 330 Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park  330-year ring count from tree core Peterborough examiner
Trembling Aspen
Populus tremuloides
Dead 213 Lake Abitibi Model Forest Lefort 2005
Tulip Tree
Liriodendron tulipifera
Living 245 Backus Woods 71cm DBH Larson et al. 1999
White Ash
Fraxinus americana
Dead 260 Rondeau Provincial Park Rings were counted from the stump of a windthrown tree Bartlett 1958
White Elm
Ulmus americana
Dead 267 Bruce County Tree was cut because of dutch elm disease The Sauble Elm
White Oak
Quercus alba
Living 450** Peter’s Woods Counted age of the core was 330 years. Tree was 91 cm DBH, length of core was 30 cm. Rings reported as “very narrow throughout” the core. Martin and Martin 2001, Martin 2006
Historic 560 Hamilton area Wilkie counted the rings of a cut stump about two metres in diameter Wilkie 1837
Yellow Birch
Betula alleghaniensis
Living >387 Algonquin Park Actual ring count. Tree had heart rot beyond 387 rings. Vasiliauskas 1995
Living (610)** Algonquin Park Age was corrected for heart rot from a short section of core – this age may be unreliable. Martin and Martin 2001, Martin 2006

* Status at time of tree ageing

** Extrapolated or unconfirmed age (see associated notes)

We are still actively updating this list. Please send information about confirmed ages of tree to Include accurate ring count from tree cores (or cross-sections of dead trees).


  • Arbex Forest Development Co. Ltd. 1991. Life science resource features of selected areas containing old white and red pine (site region 4E – Ontario)
  • Bartlett, C.O. 1958. A study of some deer and forest relationships in Rondeau Provincial Park. Wildlife series No. 7. Ontario Department of Lands and Forests.
  • Girardin MP, Tardif JC, Flannigan MD, Bergeron Y (in press) Synoptic scale atmospheric circulation and summer drought variability of the past three centuries, boreal Canada. Journal of Climate, in press.
  • Guyette, R.P. and W.G. Cole. 1999. Age characteristics of coarse woody debris (Pinus strobus) in a lake littoral zone. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 56: 496–505.
  • Guyette, R.P. and D.C. Dey. 1995. Age, size and regeneration of old growth white pine at Dividing Lake Nature Reserve, Algonquin Park, Ontario. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario Forest Research Institute, Sault Ste. Marie, Forest Research Report No. 131, 11p.
  • Henry, M. 2005. Unpublished data.
  • Kelly, P.E. and D.W. Larson. 2004. The Niagara Escarpment Ancient Tree Atlas Project; Volume 2. Unpublished Report, 54p.
  • Kelly, P.E. and D.W. Larson. 1997. Effects of rock climbing on populations of presettlement eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) on cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, Canada. Conservation Biology 11: 1125-1132.
  • Kelly, P.E. and D.W. Larson. 2007. The Last Stand: A Journey Through the Ancient Cliff-Face Forest of the Niagara Escarpment. Natural Heritage Books. 176 pp.
  • Kersher, B. 2004. Personal communication, September 16 2004.
  • Larson, B.M., J.L. Riley, E.A. Snell and H.G. Godschalk. 1999. The Woodland Heritage of Southern Ontario: A Study of Ecological Change, Distribution and Significance. Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Don Mills, Ontario. 262 pp.
  • Larson, D. W. 2001. The paradox of great longevity in a short-lived trees species. Experimental Gerontology: 36: 651-673.
  • Larson, D. W., Personal Communication, November 15, 2005.
  • Lefort, P., Personal Communication, February 20, 2005.
  • Martin, N.D. and N.M. Martin. 2001. Biotic Forest Communities of Ontario. Commonwealth Research, Belleville, Ontario. 195 pp.
  • Martin, N.D., Personal Communication, April 1, 2006.
  • McCaw, P.E., 1985. The status of black gum (“Nyssa sylvatica” Marsh.) in Backus Woods, Southern Ontario. Masters Thesis, University of Toronto. 136 Pages.
  • Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, 2005. Personal communication.
  • Quinby, P., M. Henry and T. Lee. 1998. Unpublished Data.
  • St. George, S. (Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona), Personal Communication, February 21, 2006.
  • Tardif, J., and Y. Bergeron, 1999. Population dynamics of Fraxinus nigra in response to flood-level variations, in northwestern Quebec. Ecological Monographs. 69(1): 107-125.
  • Torenvliet, N., 2015. Personal communication. January 21, 2015.
  • Vasiliauskas, S. A. 1995. Interpretation of age-structure gaps in Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) populations of Algonquin Park. Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Biology, Queen’s University. 170 pp.
  • Vasiliauskas, S. A., Personal Communication, November 25, 2005.
  • Vasiliauskas, S. A., Personal Communication, February 9, 2006.
  • Wilkie, D. 1837. Sketches of a summer trip to New York and the Canadas. Edinburgh.