There are times, I am reminded, that a simple gesture of kindness leads to a great deal of happiness. Eighteen years ago I was given some scans of an out of print map published by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee (WCWC) by my good friend Vida. That, for me, sparked a quest to rediscover the remaining old growth trees of British Columbia’s Seymour Valley. It has been a remarkable journey, and during those years not only was I able to locate those giants, but I also was able to discover many other hidden treasures!
The Temple Grove of Giants was really the first part of the map that captured my imagination, with its high concentration of ancient Douglas firs and Western red cedars. A visit to the Temple Giant naturally seemed like the perfect place to start!
The Seymour Valley, of course, was once home to one of the most spectacular forests in all of Southwestern British Columbia , when trees like the Temple Giant were commonplace. In order to gain more perspective, I humbly suggest reading Tolkien, the Story of a Tree, which is a more comprehensive account of the Temple Grove of Giants.
Many generations have passed since the Temple Giant took root in the forests of Hydraulic Creek. Since that happened long before the time of colonization in North America, its life remained relatively unthreatened during those years. Unfortunately, the turn of the twentieth century was to bring about considerable change, and saw the logging of most of the lower Seymour Valley. So what might have saved the tree from the chopping block? Some say that a human caused fire in 1936 broke out while fallers were working in Hydraulic Creek, shutting down one particular logging camp . Another factor may have been the Great Depression, when timber prices plummeted, so perhaps that kept the Temple Giant from destruction. Years later, in the 1990s, there were plans to begin harvesting again. A successful campaign by the WCWC was then launched, leading to the prohibition of logging in Greater Vancouver’s watersheds.
The Temple Giant is without a doubt one of the most impressive Douglas Firs I have seen, ranking fifth in size in the province of British Columbia. Its diameter is just over ten feet (3.05 metres) at breast height and it pierces the skies at a height of over 280 feet (85.3 metres)! I believe it may be older than 700 years, but its age is unconfirmed. There are many other trees in the Temple Grove of Giants that are at least five centuries old, I would estimate. I encourage you to visit this incredible Douglas fir while it still stands, and once you do, I’m certain you’ll return time after time, just as I have!