Adventure in Gillies Grove

John running in Gillies Grove

John running in Gillies Grove

It’s hard to believe but before last week I had never been in the Gillies Grove in Arnprior. It was on my summer bucket list and I had to make time to go, so when we finished at the library early I thought why not.

Sometimes spur of the moment trips are fun, right? I’ll admit I was somewhat unprepared; John had a sippy with water (that I tried to force him to drink but he never did), we were both in sandals and I only had the single stroller but I figured we would just go for a short walk and be right home.

Looking up at the tree canopy.

Looking up at the tree canopy.

In a recent press release on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s website it describes the Grove as …

‘a 22-hectare (56 acre) old growth forest that is a beloved natural feature of the Town of Arnprior and adjacent Township of McNab-Braeside. The Grove was once owned by Daniel McLachlin and later by David Gillies, both great figures in the history of logging in the Ottawa Valley. They spared this stately forest of hardwood and pine and it became the wooded promenade for their families and local townspeople for generations. The trees also shaded the magnificent Gillies mansion, itself built from pine from the Grove. Together the woods and home are designated as a National Historic Site.

I must admit I was immediately struck by the natural beauty of the trees when John, Lucy and I entered the forest. I also think John was overwhelmed at the tall trees and what he saw because he tried to pull my hand back towards the car. But soon he was running the trails and I had to slow him down. Outside of the forest it was very hot and sticky but under the shade of the tree canopy it was quite cool.

Is this the tallest tree in Ontario? That's my guess, other than a bench there is no marker as to which one is the tallest, they all look tall to me.

Is this the tallest tree in Ontario? That’s my guess, other than a bench there is no marker as to which one is the tallest, they all look tall to me.

I was also intrigued to venture into the forest because in May the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Forest Ontario announced that Ontario’s tallest tree was in the Grove. The news release states the tree is 47 metres or 154 feet high (taller than a 13-story condominium and Rideau Hall), the tree has been called the “Gerry White Pine Tree” in memory of a ‘spectacular’ Grove volunteer and is located near a memorial bench in his honour. I looked up at a number of trees to try and determine which tree exactly was the largest but unfortunately, other than the bench, there is no marker as to which tree is the largest. The all looked pretty big to me!

John enjoyed walking along, picking up sticks, pine cones and finding other interesting things along the way. He loves hearing birds and as soon as we walked in he started calling out ‘Birdies! Birdies!’

We entered in at Division Street, found the bench and then turned around back to where I thought we came from. Unfortunately, I came out at Harrington Street; I then made my way in the Grove alongside the houses on Ottawa Street and came out at the nursing home.  I decided not to go back into the Grove but to try and figure out how to get back to the car. John and I walked up Ida Street (big hill) to Elgin Street and back to Division Street (down the hill). Our short walk turned into quite the long adventure. Thankfully John was happy until the end of Division Street! We even saw some horses along Division Street and John helped push the stroller so everything turned out well!

I hope to go back again soon but maybe I will track down a trail map this time! So if you are in Arnprior come check out our beautiful forest, it will take your breath away!


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