Pelham Maple tree considered to be perhaps Canada’s oldest

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Published September 21, 2022 at 12:08 pm

Here's the Comfort Tree displaying its autumn coloured foliage. (Photo: DJ.zoom/Flickr)

A Maple tree as a tourist attraction? There are approximately 20 million Maple trees, representing 150 different variations of the type, across Canada.

So what makes one single Maple tree in Pelham worthy of a visit?

In the case of “The Comfort Maple,” for one, its age. It is considered to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, sugar Maple trees in the entire country. Back in 1975, the Ontario Forestry Association estimated the tree to be 400 to 500 years old.

Being as that assessment was almost 50 years ago, it will be well over five centuries old at this point. Canada itself has only been a country for 155 years, meaning it could pre-date Confederation by at least 350 years.

Secondly, the tree is huge. It’s 24.5 metres (80 feet) tall with a crown that is 38 metres (125 feet) in circumference with the trunk itself measured at 6 metres (20 feet) in circumference at the base.

The third attraction is that it was given the title of a heritage tree in June 2000 under the Ontario Heritage Act. That means it can never be cut down and even has its own plaque commemorating its heritage stature. In fact, it is now located in Pelham’s Comfort Maple Conservation Area.

How the tree has been preserved for all these centuries is also a unique story. The Comfort Maple Tree was originally in an area of hardwood forest, which was likely cleared when the tree was still young for agricultural purposes.

This act and many other instances of unnatural clearing of the forest led to the water table and streams lowering which devastated the nearby town. But despite this, when the Comfort family first settled the land in 1816, the Maple Tree stood tall.

A Pelham township map from later in the 19th century shows the land owned by John B. Comfort and a sign at the site tells visitors that the tree and the land around it were donated to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority on April 30, 1961 by Miss Edna Eleanor Comfort. The current owner of the Comfort Maple is Dr. Paul Coyne.

The area still has around half an acre of land, a parking lot and a few benches. The tree has now been outfitted with guy wires to support some of its branches.

Visiting the tree is open year round 30 minutes before dawn to 30 minutes after dusk. You can find it at 640 Metler Rd, in Fenwick.


The Comfort Maple, believed to be the oldest and finest sugar maple tree in Canada, is available to visit year-round in Pelham. (Photo: NPCA)

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