The quality of the Western Red Cedar on Vancouver Island is second to none. It is world renowned for it’s fine grain and beautiful texture. It has been called “the cornerstone of Northwest Coast aboriginal culture,” and is known as “the tree of life”. It is also British Columbia’s official tree.
The aromatic spicy scent, the beauty of its form and its many uses make the Western Red Cedar one of the most desirable of all softwoods. It is naturally durable and light in weight and is free of pitch or resin. It is commonly used for house siding and interior paneling as well as outdoor furniture, decking and fencing. It is also ideal for Poles, Posts, Sashes, Window and Door Frames and Interior Finishing. Because of its resistance to decay and insect damage, the wood is desirable for many applications and will remain sound in most environments for over 100 years. Even after a millennium, the wood can be salvaged and sawn into lumber and timbers or cut into shakes and shingles for roofing material.
The Cedar can grow to be a massive tree, sometimes in diameters of over 8′ (2.5 metres) and with tops over 200′ high (60 metres). The largest Western Red Cedar found on Vancouver Island was measured with a 13′ 6″ (4 metres) diameter trunk. There are records of 60 foot long, 8 foot wide Cedar canoes built by aboriginal people.
Western Red Cedar was instrumental to First Nations People as they used the wood for everything from weapons to cooking. Traditional uses of the wood: canoes, totem poles, longhouses, household boxes, tools, paddles; pounded fibres: mats, clothing, baskets, nets, fishing lines; medicines, and religious masks.