There is some debate as to what is Canada’s oldest tree. One possibility, a subalpine larch believed to be about 1,917 years old, calls Kananaskis Country in Alberta home. The subalpine larch is a very hearty tree and can survive at high altitudes and grow in a variety of soils and shade levels. This tree’s particular species, laryx lyallii, is commonly found in the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Mountains in North America. Kananaskis is situated at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just to the west of Calgary and Kananaskis Country consists of ten provincial parks and one ecological reserve. World famous Banff National Park lies just to its north. The park is most famous for hosting several events during the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics like alpine skiing and moguls. The most developed part of Kananaskis Country is Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta, which is popular for outdoor activities year round.
Another possibility is a subalpine larch dated to be over 1,900 years old in the Cascade Mountains in British Columbia. This particular larch is found in E.C. Manning Provincial Park on the west side of the Rockies on the Frosty Mountain just north of the U.S. border. Due to the altitude the trees grow very slowly and at times inconsistently so using tree rings to date the trees was difficult. Many of the older trees in the area have rotten heartwood growth patterns identical to the tree in question making it possible to date the trees to a certain point and make educated guesses about the rest. Because of this it is not out of the realm of possibility that the tree, and several others in the forest, could be a hundred years older or more and lay claim to the title of Canada’s oldest tree. This particular tree is accessible to the public via a hiking trail.
Another area, Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island in British Columbia also claims to have the nation’s oldest trees. The temperate climate of the forest allows for better growth and it is not as easily accessible like the Rockies and Cascades keeping humans (and loggers) away. This area boasts some of the largest trees in the world and while they advertise that they have Canada’s oldest trees none seem to approach the subalpine larches in age. On the mainland a yellow cedar tree in the Caren Range near the town of Sechelt, British Columbia was cut down in 1980 and dated to be 1,835 years old. This particular tree holds the record as Canada’s largest tree of all time but still would be younger than the larches. Several other yellow cedars in the area are over 1,500 years old, old indeed, but not old enough to the Canada’s oldest.