Some Large White Pines
in the Deep River / Chalk River Area

This pages comprises photos and approximate measurements of some large white pines - Pinus strobus - in the Point Alexander, Deep River, Chalk River, Petawawa Research Forest area of the upper Ottawa Valley. It is not a comprehensive list; rather, it is a compilation of some data we have collected about some of our favorite trees. We are certain that there are many other worthy white pines out there.
large white pine with circumference of 142 inches

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This might be the largest white pine in the vicinity with a circumference at chest height of about 142 inches. It is located in the Four Seasons Forest Sanctuary and is accessible via the Deep River cross country ski trails. Larger trees have been measured in the Petawawa Research Forest but we do not know if they still exist.

The Eastern White Pine is the provincial tree of Ontario Many fine specimens of this majestic tree are to be found in the upper Ottawa Valley.

Quoting I.C.M. Plaice in 75 Years of Research in the Woods:

Until 1840, the region supported magnificent stands of red pine and white pine. For the next 30 years, though, demand of the British market for square pine timber and ship masts led to highly selective cutting of the best trees ... By 1870, most of the original pine stands in the [Petawawa] Military Reserve had been logged for these products. Timber sales ... led to the removal of all of the remaining large accessible red and white pine for sawing into lumber for the Canadian and American markets [by about 1890].

...

Settlement of the eastern half of the Military Reserve began in the 1880s. Extensive fires accompanied logging and land clearance. In 1868, for example, fire burned from the Ottawa River to Lake Traverse on the upper Petawawa and in 1876, a careless river-driver was blamed for fires that ran through the back country from the Petawawa to the Bonnechere River. On the forestry station itself, six major fires occurred between 1860 and 1917 -- it was the last fire that gave rise to many of the aspen and jack pine stands northeast of Highway 17. Little of the area escaped fire completely and many parts were burned several times. Thus most of the present forest has originated after fire, logging and clearing. The most conspicuous effects of burning were the replacement of almost pure stands of red and white pine on light soils by mixtures of aspen, white birch, red maple, balsam fir, white spruce, white pine, and red pine.

Consequently few, (and probably none), of the original mature white pines remain. Most of the large local white pines are post logging, settlement and fire. While they are large and majestic trees, most have trunk circumferences at chest height of 8 feet or less (80 cm diameter). These are large trees, but none challenge the original growth white pine tree in Haliburton County that has a diameter of 172 cm (213 inches in circumference) [at Dividing Lake?].

But there are some large white pines out there. These, no doubt, were smaller trees that somehow managed to escape the settlers, the loggers and the fires. Pines as large as 127 cm in diameter (157 inches circumference) have been measured in the Petawawa Research Forest, but we have no knowledge whether such trees still exist.

(There are several other white pines in the area that we need to check out for inclusion on this page -- that we are aware of and probably even more that we aren't! However if we set this page aside now, it may never see the light of day. So our plan is to check out these trees later and then revisit this page.)

large white pine in Petawawa Research Forest

( - map - explore

Bob obtains a gps position for the large white pine along road R5 in the Petawawa Research Forest. Its circumference at chest height was 136 inches (110 cm diameter). It should be noted that the trunk of this tree divides just a little above the top of this photo, so it is not be a prime tree for harvesting.

large white pine in Petawawa Research Forest

( - map - explore

This tree is along road R7, just east of where it joins with R1. It has a 123 inch circumference (100 cm diameter).

Large white pine Pinus strobus in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photo by Bob: 2008-09-07 - map - explore

This fine specimen has a 128 inch circumference (105 cm diameter). It is located along an overgrown road that runs along the south side of the creek that lies between R1 and Woermke Road. In many ways, this is our favourite -- big, tall and straight.

large white pine in Petawawa Research Forest

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Our measurement methods are quite crude; we simply use a piece of string that we mark in the field and measure when we get home (although we estimate the circumference in the field). We try to ensure that the string is straight and level and about chest height, but we don't look on this as a high precision activity. The calculated diameters are rounded to the nearest 5 cm; the circumference is the primary measurement. We didn't record the measurements for this tree, also located along the same overgrown road, since it was clearly smaller than its neighbour (visible in the background).

The advantage of string is that it is easy to carry. However, if we are going out to measure a specific tree, we may well take a tape measure.

large white pine in Petawawa Research Forest

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This tree is located along R1 east of Meridian Road. We have no recorded measurement, but it was about 10 ft circumference.

grove of large white pines in Petawawa Research Forest

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This is a very nice grove of four large white pines located along the HSA Ski Trail (at the edge of the wet spot at the bottom of the hill between R1 and R5). The largest of these trees had a 116 inch circumference (95 cm diameter).

large white pine in Petawawa Research Forest

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This fine tree is located near the Petawawa Research Forest Sugar Shack. It is one of the larger that we have found, with a measured circumference of 133 inches (110 cm diameter). It measured just slightly smaller than the one along R5, but perhaps it is its equal within the accuracy of our measurements.

Storm damage at Centennial Rock along the Deep River Waterfront

(photo by Bob: 2006-07-17 - explore

This photo was taken on the evening of 2006 July 17. An hour or so earlier, a line of violent thunderstorms passed through the local area. This was part of a front that did extensive damage throughout north-eastern Ontario and was responsible for at least one death. Power outages were widespread.

Many of the large old white pines of the area succumbed to the storm. The white pines at Centennial Rock on the Deep River Waterfront have long served as an icon of the town. Twenty-five years ago, there were six stately white pines there. In the intervening years, disease and lightning have reduced the number of remaining trees to two. That evening, the leftmost tree lost its top half, to become the shorter of the two.

Both of these trees still stand in 2008 September, although the leftmost tree has been marked for removal. For information, the rightmost tree has a measured circumference of 85 inches. This is typical of many of the white pines of Deep River -- large stately trees, but smaller than the other trees documented above. Many of Deep River's white pines were damaged or downed in the 2006 storm and more have been subsequently removed as a precautionary measure; see, for example: Coming Down, Progress, White Pine (2007 January 20), or White Pine (2007 March 23).

Satellite Image

Notes

We report circumference at chest height measured in inches, rather than diameter in centimeters, because the former is what we measure. Also, the conversion between circumference and diameter based on π is only strictly correct if the cross section is truly circular. I have no idea whether "real" foresters worry about that or not.

Sources

  • John Laird Farrar (1995), Trees in Canada, Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited and The Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources, Canada.
  • I.C.M. Place (2002), 75 Years of Research in the Woods, A History of Petawawa Forest Experiment Station and Petawawa National Forestry Institute, General Store Publishing House, Renfrew.
  • Dan Strickland (1991), The Trees of Algonquin Park, The Friends of Algonquin Park.