Unit 2 - The History of Forest Use and Management

Lesson 3: European Settlement

European settlers began arriving in Canada in large numbers during the seventeenth century. They relied heavily on the forest, harvesting timber to build homes, barns, fences, furniture, and household items.

The forests also provided the settlers with wood for fuel. Indeed, up until the late eighteenth century, the main use of Canada's forest was to meet the needs of these settlers.

Unlike the fur trade, however, land settlements had lasting negative effects on Canada's forests. The settlers tended to regard the forest as an impediment to progress. Accordingly, they cleared as much land as possible to make way for agriculture.

Few forest laws existed at this time in Canada's history. The forest was not regarded to have much value, and the only attempt to regulate forest use was the institution of "broad arrow" laws. This law stipulated that the trees most suitable for shipbuilding should be marked with arrows blazed into their trunks.

However, it is important to realize that these laws were not aimed at protecting the forest, but rather to ensure the best trees for shipbuilding were reserved for the Crown. Severe penalties were imposed on anyone cutting these trees for their own use.
  Why the King's Mark?  Read more here.