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Port Renfrew - the "Tall tree capital of Canada"

The tallest and largest trees grow in Port Renfrew, which is why the region on Vancouver Island is also called the “Tall Tree Capital of Canada”. But the ancient trees are in danger!

Photographer TJ Watt Ancient Tree Alliance tree stump

The west coast of Canada runs along the province of British Columbia. It meanders over 27,000 km past countless islands, bays, inlets and fjords. It would take a whole (and certainly very fulfilling) life to explore them. Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island, in the territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation, is the last outpost in this remote area. Anyone who wants to continue northwest from here can only do so on foot or by boat.

In the mountains that slope down to the sea, one of the last temperate rainforests defies Canadian loggers.

Welcome to Port Renfrew, the "Tall tree capital" of Canada

Here in Port Renfrew the tallest and largest firs, cedars and spruces, grow in "Tall tree capital of Canada". But in the country where the timber industry plays a major role, they are threatened:

90 percent of the jungle giants in Canada have already disappeared.

Photographer TJ Watt, co-founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance , which works to preserve the giant trees, some of which are up to 1,000 years old, rattles with us along a gravel road from Port Renfrew into the mountains that is normally used by logging trucks.

Lonley Doug Canada Environmental Destruction Timber Industry

Lonley Doug

He wants to show us what he sees as the perfect symbol for the destructive effect of cutting down old trees:

“Lonley Doug” - a 66 meter high Douglas fir that stands all alone in a wide field.

Why logger Dennis Cronin marked the tree one winter morning in 2011 with a “Leave Tree” for subsequent loggers will likely always remain a mystery. Cronin didn't know at the time that he was standing under the second largest Douglas fir in the country: 66 meters high, almost four meters wide and almost twelve meters in circumference. Beneath the corky bark was enough wood for four truckloads; that one tree alone would have fetched tens of thousands of dollars.

A year later, the approximately 1,000-year-old Lonley Doug was the only tree to survive the clear-cutting - and a year later it was still a star.

At the beginning of 2012, TJ, who photographs ancient forests and cleared areas for the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA), came across the tree while driving on a forestry road 30 minutes north of Port Renfrew. He tells:

"It was a tree like I had never photographed before."

In the middle of the clear-cutting, the Douglas fir stood like an obelisk in the desert. I estimate her age to be around 1,000 years old. “Imagine it was already there when Nordic explorer Leif Ericson built sod houses in what is now Newfoundland.”

We look at the thick trunk in awe. How tiny the person looks next to him - even eight of us can't hug him.

Click on an image to see it larger:

There is a downloadable “Big Tree Map” on the Ancient Forest Alliance website that gives directions to the most important trees, groves and parks, such as Avatar Grove - home to Canada's "gnarliest tree" (note -

Avatar Grove is currently closed for boardwalk restoration), Big Lonely Doug (Canada's second largest Douglas fir), Red Creek Fir (the largest Douglas fir in the world), San Juan Spruce (one of Canada's largest spruces), Harris Creek Spruce (another giant Sitka spruce ).

If you want to hike further: Port Renfrew is also the starting point for the Pacific Rim National Park and two famous hiking trails: the world-famous "Shipwreck Rescue Trail", now called The West Coast Trail - see Blog Post, and the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.



There are several scheduled flights from Germany to Vancouver every day. An electronic travel document (eTA) is required to enter Canada.

If you want to explore Canada, it's best to book a rental car .

These are available, for example, at


The roads to the trees are gravel roads that are also used by timber transporters who cannot (or cannot) get out of the way. Here you often have no reception. So be prepared and take a spare tire and a first aid kit with you.

Wild Renfew Lodge Canada


Wild Renfrew 's lodges are located on a private beach overlooking the sea. The dense, ancient jungle of Vancouver Island begins right behind the cozy log cabins. 1730 Parkinson Road, Port Renfrew, BC, V0S 1K0, Tel: 250-647-5541,

On the north side of the 2 km long Pacheedaht Beach is the Pacheedaht campsite of the same name, which is operated by the Pacheedaht First Nation. Huge tree trunks lie washed up on the white sandy beach. If you don't have a tent with you, you can rent fully equipped sleeping barrels. This is also the starting point for the West Coast Trail.

Reservations at or Tel: 1-250-647-0090


Renfrew Pub , a cozy bar/restaurant in Snuggery Cove, offers typical pub food and microbrew beer. 17310 Parkinson Road, Port Renfrew, Tel: 250-647-5541,

Imagine you've just spent eight days hiking the West Coast Trail, carrying all your food, and then you come to Coastal Kitchen - a super cozy cafe with great food and delicious drinks. From my own experience I can say that it's like the land of milk and honey.

Coastal Kitchen, 17245 Parkinson Rd, Port Renfrew, Tel: 250-647-5545,

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