Knowing what it is that we see brings us meaning and gives value to what is seen. —Lynn Bevan

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Pines & Firs


Pines are conifers that are divided into two groups – soft or White Pines, and hard or Yellow Pines. Firs are part of the Pine family.

Soft Pines, like the Eastern White Pine, have needles in bundles of five with one vein. The twigs to which the needles are attached are smooth. The scaly cones hang downwards from the branches.

Hard Pines, like the Red Pine, have needles that are in bundles of two. This arrangement of needles makes the Red Pine easy to distinguish from the White Pine.

There is one native Pine on the Tree Walk – the Eastern White Pine, which is the provincial tree of the Province of Ontario. Many Canadians will be familiar with its windblown shape from the famous painting, White Pine, by A. J. Casson, who was a member of the Group of Seven, Canadian painters. The original is part of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, where the Bevan family lived for many years. The third of the Bevan’s four children, Lynn Bevan, was one of the first guides at the Gallery and has continued as a volunteer at the Gallery throughout her life.

There are two types of Pine trees on the The Jean & Michael Bevan Tree Walk. They include:​

Eastern White Pine

(Pinus strobus)

This tall conifer has long, soft, needles arranged in bundles of five. Mature trees have straight  trunks but the long, horizontal, branches often have asymmetrical shapes formed by the wind. In colonial times, the White Pines were reserved for Royal Navy ship’s masts and are still the most valuable softwood lumber grown in eastern Canada.

These trees can grow over 45 metres, or 150 feet tall and can live for 200 years.

The Eastern White Pine is the provincial tree of Ontario.

Austrian Pine


The Austrian Pine is a non-native Pine that was commonly planted for home landscaping and in parks. It has a round, bushy, form and, like the Red Pine, bunches of two needles. Its bark is flaky and grey in colour, unlike the reddish bark of the Red Pine. Without frequent management, these Pines can dominate other species.

These trees are found along the edge of the Tree Walk and are not found on the map.


Firs are part of the Pine family and are found in cool climates around the northern hemisphere. Their needles are mostly soft, blunt-tipped, and short. The tree’s shape is typically narrow, with orderly branches, making them desirable for Christmas trees. Male and female cones grow separately at the top of the tree and drop seed scales separately. This encourages diversity in the tree’s reproduction. 

The bark is smooth and marked by soft blisters that contain a sticky substance known as resin. It was used to seal birch bark canoes and to mount samples on microscope slides, because it refracts light the same way glass does.

The Common Douglas-fir is not a Fir, but a separate genus in the Pine family. It grows to significant heights and is used in construction. This large conifer is native to the coast of the Province of British Columbia and is a mainstay of the lumber industry. The Latin name means false fir, or false hemlock.

The one true Fir on the Tree Walk is the White Fir. This is a native of the Rocky Mountains of North America. It has relatively long needles for a fir and appears whitish-green because of the dense lines of white dots on both sides. White Fir, with its soft wood, has limited commercial use other than for Christmas trees.

There are two fir trees on  the Tree Walk. They include:

White Fir

(Abies concolor)

This is a native of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The needles spread horizontally in two distinct patterns on horizontal branches. When crushed, the needles smell of oranges. Young trees are conical but mature trees have an irregular or flat-topped crown and drooping branches.

Common Douglas-fir

(Pseudotsuga menziesii)

This large conifer is native in Canada to the coast of British Columbia and is a mainstay of the lumber industry. Its flat, flexible, needles are about one-inch long and are soft. The Latin name means false Fir.

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