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The Last Stand: A Journey Through the Ancient Cliff-Face Forest of the Niagara Escarpment Paperback – May 31 2007

6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Natural Heritage (May 31 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897045190
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897045190
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 1.1 x 25.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's easy to read and provides a great review of the research completed by the Cliff Ecology Research Group.

(Lesley McDonell)

The Last Stand is a beautiful book, shot through with full colour, striking photographs of cliffs, cedars and those who discover them. It's an adventure story, a lesson in ecology and a close up look at the cliffs that surround us every day. After reading it, you will never again take that rampart of rock for granted.

(Andrew Armitage)

This is a fascinating book about the discovery of old-growth trees where they were least expected.

(Gloria Hildebrandt)

The most ancient and least disturbed forest ecosystem in eastern North America clings to the vertical cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment. Prior to 1988 it had escaped detection even though the entire forest was in plain view and was being visited by thousands upon thousands of people every year. The reason no one had discovered the forest was that the trees were relatively small and lived on the vertical cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment. The Last Stand reveals the complete account of the discovery of this ancient forest, of the miraculous properties of the trees forming this forest (eastern white cedar), and of what is was like for researchers to live, work and study within this forest. The unique story is told with text, with stunning colour photographs and through vivid first-hand accounts. This book will stand the test of time as a testament to science, imagination and discovery.

About the Author

Peter E. Kelly completed his M.Sc. at the University of Western Ontario before joining the Cliff Ecology Research Group in the Department of Botany at the University of Guelph. He has devoted the last fifteen years to studying the ecology of the old-growth cedar forests of the Niagara Escarpment. He is co-author, with Douglas W. Larson of Cliff Ecology, published in 2000 by Cambridge University Press.

Douglas W. Larson completed his Ph.D. at McMaster University and is currently a Professor of Botany at the University of Guelph. He founded the Cliff Ecology Research Group at the University as a vehicle for the studying of structure and function of the Niagara Escarpment cliff ecosystem. He has also taught ecology for over 25 years. He is co-author, with Peter E. Kelly of Cliff Ecology, published in 2000 by Cambridge University Press.

Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lesley Fox on July 6 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is a must read for anyone interested in ecology, Canadian heritage, geography, nature, history, science, and adventure. Author Peter Kelly provides the perfect mix all of all these things while he tells the story of how he discovered some of the oldest trees in Canada growing on the cliff faces of the Niagara Escarpment in Southern Ontario. Through the chapters you feel like you are right there with him, dangling from the cliffs, getting hissed at by turkey vultures, stung by bees, bit by ants and tangled in poison ivy. Furthermore, the full colour photos and detailed sketches of the ancient trees will blow you away and boggle your brain. This book is not only educational, but it is surprisingly funny, witty, inspiring and presents a strong case of why we should preserve and maintain our natural environment.
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Format: Paperback
Although I have hiked a lot on various sections of Bruce Trail and other trails in the Niagara Escarpment, it never occured to me that this UN Biosphere Reserve has on its cliff-faces oldest Eatern White Cedars. The oldest, nicknamed 'The Ancient One' by the researcher and author Peter E. Kelley is 1,320 years old.

The book is on a species of tree that grows on faces of cliffs withstanding centuries of bombardment by severe natural elements like wind, ice, snow, hail, rain, and intense heat and cold. However, it is written in such a manner that it makes a pleasant reading for novices.

The book is very informative. It describes in a very easy to read manner the features of the Niagara Escarpment and the biological characteristic of the eatern white cedar, of its medicinal and other uses by first nation people and by the early settlers, the Cliff-Face Forest, comparison with the oldest trees found elsewhere in the world, adventures in discovering ancient living trees in the Escarpment, the technicalities of measuring tree age (scientific terminology: Dendrochronology) and of exploring them by rappling down from the cliff tops, and finally the details of the 10 oldest eastern white cedars in the Escarpment. The 10 oldest cedars have been creatively given characteristic names on the basis of their appearances like The Ghost, The Cliff Giant, The Bowspirit, The Alien, The Hunchback, The Snake, The Ancient One, etc.
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By Karen Sword on June 1 2010
Format: Paperback
I am really pleased to own this book. I had known for some time that the cedars on the cliff faces of the Niagara Escarpment included some very old specimens, but I had no way to discern which of the trees I saw as I hiked the Bruce Trail would qualify as 'ancient'. This book includes an excellent photograph section.

The background writing (apart from one jarring typographical error in the foreword by Sarah Harmer) is easy reading and not pedantic. The anecdotes about how tricky it is to explore this forest are nicely interspersed with history and geology of the area.
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