Welcome back folks, today’s post is a big one so please strap yourself in for a ride!  On our recent photo-adventure to Great Central Lake on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, we also make an extra stop on our way home at MacMillan Provincial Park, also known as Cathedral Grove.  We’ve got a fairly large series of photos to share, so we’ll jump right into those…

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

This entire area, and neighboring areas, of Vancouver Island are just recent additions to our Provincial Parks.  MacMillan Provincial Park was created in the late 1940’s and the nearby Carmanah Valley area was more recently allocated to parkland in the late 1980’s.  The Carmanah Valley came to worldwide attention when some local logging companies were set to begin active logging on the trees there, some as old as 1,000 years old.

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

The MacMillan/Cathedral Grove section consists mainly of old growth Douglas fir and Western Red Cedar trees.  Some of these trees are more than 800 years old and still are standing strong.  To put this into perspective, many of these trees were already 300+ years old when Christopher Columbus first hit the shores of North America in the late 1400’s.

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

The park is separated by the highway that runs through it.  The south side holds some of the very largest Douglas firs in existence, some with as much as a 9M (roughly 27 feet) wide base.  The other side holds ancient Western Red Cedars that surround Cameron Lake.

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

An unusual and severe windstorm hit the park on News Years Day 1997, toppling many of the large trees.  Some of the trails remain blocked to this day, and work continues to clear the prominent paths and sections to allow visitors deeper into the park.

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

In some cases hemlocks and other varieties of trees and vegetation creep their way around the old growth trees.  Even with the storm that caused so much damage, rebirth of the forest is well underway and you can readily see new growth emerging everywhere.

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

When we first entered the park, we were immediately hit with a sense of scale.  Given the age and size of these trees, the entire park left us feeling a bit insignificant, to be honest.  This is a true rain-forest, and as such one of the things you notice right away is the sweet smell of the air.  This forest and all the surrounding areas on Vancouver Island are rich with biodiversity and are critical for the overall health of the entire planet, not just the area nearby.  It gives us great hope and joy to see the level of attention and care that has been afforded this area both by all the visitors and the government in its protectionary duties here.

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fallen trees are everywhere as you visit the park.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  As the trees decompose they nourish both the plants and animals that are native to the area, further sustaining the biodiversity of the zone.  Thus, the circle of life continues.

This has to be one of the most wondrous places on this planet we call home.  Given our deep love for Vancouver Island, and the west coast itself, it fills our hearts with joy to have the chance to come here and commune with all that came before us.

I have to tell you, folks, if ever you get a chance to come and visit here, run, don’t walk.  You’ll be absolutely amazed at the wonders that the park holds.

Thank you ever so kindly for your visit today, we really appreciate it.  Please don’t hesitate to leave us any comments or questions you may have as we truly love to hear from all our visitors.




  1. avatar Viveca Koh says:

    What a beautiful place, your photos and words make me wish I could visit at once – there is something very special about trees and forests, and somewhere this old must have a wonderful atmosphere. This is my kind of place, thank you for sharing 🙂

    • MANY thanks for your wonderful visit today, Viveca, that really means a lot to us!! Oh, please come, we’d be so delighted to show you around! There’s so much to see around here, it would be an amazing time!! Or perhaps, we need to come to you!! It’s in our plans, that’s for sure!! Thank you my dear friend, we really appreciate your friendship & support!!

  2. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Unbelievable series of images Toad. Just superb colors (man. those greens) and everything perfectly composed. Another addition to the Toad legacy.

  3. avatar Jim Denham says:

    Toad, these images are FANTASTIC and truly make me feel the sense of size and beauty of the park! What a beautiful place and trees are amazing! Would love to see this in person! well done!

  4. avatar Curt Fleenor says:

    Wonderful series of images Toad! They certainly convey the grandeur and age of the area.

  5. This images are outstanding. What a gorgeous place.

  6. avatar Darren Swim says:

    Amazing story and images. I always enjoy THP posts.

  7. avatar Heather says:

    Love this. Reminds me of the time I visited a friend in Aberdeen, Washington and she took me to the rain forest there. Just gorgeous 🙂

  8. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    Really great set of images, Toad. The colors are awesome and you captured the atmosphere of the place very nicely.

  9. Great images.. and wonderful post processing..
    You were going to share the post processing techniques..

  10. avatar Rick says:

    Excellent set of images. I’m just amazed at how deciduous the parks are in Victoria. I was up in Vancouver earlier this year and visited Gowland Todd Provincial State Park outside of Victoria. We just don’t see that type of greenery here in Colorado. I definitely need to spend more than a day seeing Victoria Island. It’s such a beautiful area.

  11. avatar Tom Barnett says:

    What a fantastic post! Loved it!

  12. That green is just sick the way it pops!

  13. Your precious island is just saturated with never ending beauty Toad…and you seem to be capturing every square inch and I Love it!!

  14. avatar A.Barlow says:

    OMG man that place looks SO AWESOME!

    • Thanks Aaron, it really is an amazing place. It’s just huge, my friend, huge…. everything is huge, the land, the trees… even the bears we’re told!! 🙂 Thank you so much for your kind visit my friend!!

  15. avatar Jim Nix says:

    these are awesome Toad, just a wonderful serene set of photos! I love how you handled them!

  16. avatar Chris Nitz says:

    You all need to do more wooded shots, as these are such a great buffet for the eyes. I’m totally in love with this series!

  17. I’m a big fan of your primeval forests in BC! Visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge three years ago and fell in love with your vast forests and majestic evergreens. Beautiful photos, Toad!

  18. Amazing beauty. 800 years old! If only those trees could talk.

  19. What a stunning set of images. The colors and processing are terrific and really give a sense of how beautiful it must be to visit there. Thanks for sharing them.

  20. […] to a magnificent patch of old-growth forest with giant Douglas fir trees (some great photos of it here). While this is a very tranquil scene I would so much prefer an old growth forest to wander in at […]

  21. […] get to and the two loop trails are short, flat, and have lots of interpretive signs. Check out this photo collection from Cathedral Grove by Toad Hollow Photography to get an idea of this park’s stunning […]

    • This is a wonderful blog post that details the history and significance of this very important tree in our society here in Canada on the West Coast. This is a highly detailed post, full of great information for those who might be interested. We highly encourage everyone to pop over to read this, if you are interested.