Cathedral Grove is a trail network looping through an old growth forest in MacMillan Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. 50 minutes north west from Nanaimo, and about 20 minutes from Parksville, it’s split by Alberni Highway 4, which is the route to Port Alberni and Tofino.
The name “Cathedral Grove” appeared in correspondence to the provincial government in the 1920s. This colourful description of the stately trees is reputed to have originated from the Governor General Viscount Willingdon in April 1928. Cathedral Grove was a well-known tourist stop on the Alberni Road in the 1920s and 1930s when the timber was owned by the Victoria Lumbering and Manufacturing Company. For 15 years the public encouraged the provincial government to acquire the lands within Block 35, Cameron Lake area. The citizens’ organizations, The Associated Boards of Trade of Vancouver Island, petitioned the government in 1929 to preserve forever, for the public benefit, the well-known stand of timber at Cameron Lake, known as Cathedral Grove. In 1944 H.R. MacMillan, a well-known forester donated the 136 hectares of land for the perpetual enjoyment of the public in recognition of the unique stand of trees. Three years later, the area was established as a Class A provincial park.
There are trails on either side of the highway but for our photowalk with John‘s parents (who are visiting from Iowa) we stuck to the south side where the largest Douglas Firs (one measuring more than 9 meters in circumference) stand. Trails are well marked and maintained, and despite a bit of mud it’s a very easy walk for all ages.