Photo © TJ Watt
by Hans Tammemagi
Around Port Renfrew, in the southwest corner of Vancouver Island about a two-hour drive west from Victoria, trees nurtured by a mild climate and abundant moisture soar toward the sky, growing tall and mighty.
Port Renfrew, the southern terminus of the well-known West Coast Trail, offers great deep-sea fishing, and nearby Botanical Beach is rich with sculpted intertidal pools. However, the town is fast gaining fame as the Tall Tree Capital of Canada, for it’s surrounded by magnificent old growth forests, including such notable trees as the Cheewhat Giant, a western red cedar that is the largest tree in Canada; the Red Creek Fir, the world’s largest Douglas fir; the Carmanah Giant, the world’s largest Sitka spruce; and the San Juan Spruce, which is Canada’s largest spruce by volume and the second largest in the world. Many trees are more than 1,000 years old, and were already large and mature when Christopher Columbus landed in America.
Jon Cash, the former president of the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce, explains that when the area’s main lumber company moved, it caused economic difficulties. “We had to re-invent ourselves,” says Cash. “We’ve recently started promoting tall tree tourism, and it’s working.”
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