Stepping out into the vast forests of Southern Ontario invokes a sense of the magnificence and resilience of the Northern forest trees. Here, on this island in Algonquin Park, where a fire cleared out all vegetation in the mid 1930’s, towering shapes of White Pine or Pinus strobus, form the most striking feature in the landscape. These trees can grow up to 80′ in height towering over the forest canopy and can live over 300 years.
Kayaking along the shore of these glacial lakes, one of the most prevalent tree is the Eastern White Cedar or Thuja occidentalis. They favor impossible sites at the water’s edge, practically growing out of huge boulders in all sorts of contorted areal configurations.
This example is by no means unusual on lakes all over Ontario. some trunks extend twenty to thirty feet out to hold their canopies over the water and providing a very unique habitat for fish and other aquatic life who seek out the shade and refuge the massive fronds provide.
I spotted this Hemlock or Tsuga canadensis, about fifty feet in height, growing out of this boulder in one of my hikes. That entire root system covered and area approximately twenty feet around. The oldest living Hemlock in Algonquin Park has been documented to be 454 years old!
When traveling to these Northern woods I am awed by the power of the natural world. To see these giant trees surviving against all odds though harsh winters, scalding summers, fending off the onslaught of insect armies and then, providing wildlife with food and shelter! They are rooted in place like giant sentinels towering over the forest. Then one day, inevitably, they will relinquish their story and riches to start anew upon the forest floor.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir