Did You Know?

  • A handful of Ontario government foresters organized one of the first and largest scale environmental restoration projects in North America by planting millions of trees on denuded forest lands in southern Ontario (John Bacher - Two Billion Trees and Counting)
  • Ontario has one of the largest and most renowned Provincial Parks network in the world. This network of parks was initiated in 1893 with the creation of Algonquin Park (Gerald Killan - Protected Places: A History of Ontario's Protected Places)
  • Ontario was, and still is, a world leader in developing and using aircraft to fight forest fires, an effort that began with the creation of the Ontario Provincial Air Service in the mid-1920s (Bruce West - The Firebirds)
  • Ontario has successfully reintroduced animals that were extirpated from our forests including wild turkey and elk (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Web - (accessed July 27, 2018)
  • Ontario established the first forestry school in Canada in 1907 (Mark Kuhlberg - One Hundred Rings and Counting)
  • The province's forest industry developed a range of new products from trees and their components, such as vanillin at OPC's mill in Thorold, and the use of recycled paper there during WWII. OPC was also the first mill to use electricity to make paper (Ontario Paper Company Ltd fonds, Brock University)
  • Ontario has a long history of family run sawmills that continue operation today including sawmills owned by the Shaw, McRae, Chisholm, Goulard, Lecours and other families

You can help the Forest History Society of Ontario discover forest history by becoming a member of the society; by conducting research, by getting involved and promoting forest history to your local and/or provincial history, museum or archives organizations; by collecting oral histories.

Forests and forest use have been an integral part of Ontario's history from the time immemorial. Do an internet search using "history of" and a "forest" term and invariably results will be presented. Indigenous peoples used and managed forests and forest resources for their shelter and livelihood. Settlers were dependent on forests for lumber, firewood and food. The history of every settlement contains aspects of Ontario's forests. Today, forests, forest use and conservation continue to be important in many aspects of the lives of people who live in Ontario and beyond. The past informs the future. The more we know and understand about our past forest history, the better we will be able to manage our forests in the future.

Forest history can be documented in several different ways:

  • Written - Records kept by an organization, company, group or individual
  • Spoken - Oral histories, songs
  • Visually - Photographs, videos, art
  • The forest itself - ecological remnants

Forest history can be "discovered" in many different ways.

  • Historical and ecological research
  • Local and provincial history societies, archives and museums
  • Family histories


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