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Tree hunters find enormous Western red cedar in North Vancouver

Dubbed the North Shore Giant, the tree tucked away in a remote corner of Lynn Headwaters Regional Park is said to be the fourth-widest in Canada

A pair of big-tree hunters say they have located one of the largest trees in Canada in a remote corner of Lynn Valley in North Vancouver.

Tree trackers Colin Spratt and Ian Thomas say they have found an ancient Western red cedar measuring more than 5.8 metres in diameter deep in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, making it the fourth-widest known tree in the country. They have dubbed the tree “The North Shore Giant” and estimate that it is likely more than 1,000 years old.

Spratt and Thomas said they spent 10 hours bushwhacking through extremely rugged and dangerous terrain on Sunday (June 19) to get to the grove where the North Shore Giant stands.

As they approached the grove, they could see several spires sticking out above the tops of other trees. It wasn’t until they drew near that they confirmed the spires all belonged to one enormous western red cedar.

“I was blown away,” Thomas told the North Shore News. “I shouted to Colin, ‘That’s one tree!’ Our hearts almost stopped, because it was all these different heads coming together into a massive trunk.”

Spratt said he stood frozen when he first saw the tree in all its glory.

“The blood drained from my face,” stated Spratt in a release. “I started getting dizzy as I realized it was one of the largest cedars ever found, and one of the most amazing life forms left on earth.”

According to the tree hunters, the North Shore Giant grows on the slopes west of Lynn Creek on a boulder field among other ancient red cedars. Other massive trees are located in nearby groves, including Canada’s fifth-widest known Western hemlock, which the two tree hunters identified on the same day they found the North Shore Giant.

Spratt and Thomas said the current diameter measurement of the North Shore Giant is a preliminary one, following the methodology of the American Forest Association’s Champion Trees Program, which has been the standard used by B.C.’s own official big-tree registry. The tree hunters said they hope they can take members of British Columbia’s Big Tree Committee to the site in the next week or two to confirm the diameter and take height and crown measurements for entry into the province’s Big Tree Registry.

“Finding this colossal ancient tree just demonstrates the sublime grandeur of these old-growth temperate rainforests,” said Thomas, a member of the Ancient Forest Alliance, a non-profit organization that works to protect B.C.’s endangered old-growth forests and to ensure a sustainable, value-added, second-growth forest industry. “Luckily, this incredible being and the impressive grove in which it stands is safe in a park. Most of our richest ancient forests are still unprotected and in danger of being logged. Even now in Canada, in the year 2022, trees as old as this giant, and entire groves like this one, are still being cut down on an industrial scale.”

Spratt and Thomas are not releasing the precise location of the tree to the public, and they strongly discourage people from trying to track it down on their own. For those interested in seeing something similar, the Kennedy Creek cedar is located beside the Kennedy Falls Trail, an intermediate five-hour backcountry hike along the east side of Mount Fromme.

The largest recorded tree in Canada, the Cheewat Giant, is also a lot more accessible than the North Shore Giant. Another Western red cedar, it is located near Cheewat Lake on the west side of Vancouver Island, between Port Renfrew and Bamfield.

The Cheewat giant is more than six metres in diameter and stands more than 56 metres tall.

There is no official height measurement yet for the North Shore Giant.
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Video produced by Harry Linley