Nestled within the County of Renfrew in Arnprior boasts a natural marvel that captures the essence of Ontario's rich history.
Located in Gillies Grove, found along the Ottawa River, the 22 hectare property contains some of the last remaining old growth forest in eastern Ontario.
According to town of Arnprior, old-growth forests help with climate change adaptation by providing a refuge for migrating animals and plants as temperatures fluctuate. As well, forests are able to store significant amounts of carbon in the soil and trees.
Not only does Gillies Grove contain some of the province’s tallest white pine trees, but it also supports species like the endangered butternut tree and eastern wood-pewee, a species of special concern.
The tall white pines scattered throughout the Grove are a significant remnant of once-abundant old-growth forests within the territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg, accoriding to Parks Canada.
The Grove was preserved as part of a large estate owned by the McLachlin lumbering family from 1851 until the 1930s, when the property was divided and the Grove sold to a rival, David Gillies.
In 1937, Gillies commissioned the building of a grand Colonial Revival-style house to promote the use of white pine in construction, showcasing timber harvested and milled by his company. Together, the Grove and house are a fine example of a country estate from the interwar period.
Gillies Grove is a rare remnant of the magnificent forest that once covered the Ottawa Valley Region and is home to the tallest tree in the province: a towering eastern white pine standing 47 metres (147 feet) high and taller than a 13-storey building. The tree is estimated to be between 150 to 200 years old.
While the actual tree isn't marked, midway along the trail there is a bench, where visitors can sit and take in the views of the remarkable tree.
Designated a National Historic Site in 1994, Gillies Grove features a 3.6 km circular walk that consists of three main trails throughout the property: the White Pine Loop, which passes through a section of old growth pine forest; the Cross Grove Trail, the most direct route through Gillies Grove; and the Hemlock Loop, which leads visitors to explore further into the grove.
For those who cherish Ontario's captivating history and breathtaking natural landscapes, a journey to Gillies Grove to bask in the views of the majestic trees is a must.