Western Redcedar and Yellow Cedar: Culture, Construction, and Craftsmanship

Western redcedar and yellow cedar make up a significant portion of the tree harvest in BC each year. The wood from these local cedar varieties is prized in construction, interior design, and even musical instrument manufacturing.

Western redcedar is indigenous to the West Coast of BC, thriving in the damp, temperate rainforests of the region. Known for its massive trunk, scale-like green leaves, and an average height of 50 to 70 meters, it’s one of the largest trees in its habitat. Yellow cedar stands slightly shorter, reaching up to 25 meters. This evergreen tree also has scale-like green leaves and grows along the coast and interior of BC. In Coast Salish culture, cedar is frequently referred to as the “tree of life.” The tree’s wood, bark, and roots have been skillfully transformed into a variety of items, including totem poles, canoes, bentwood boxes, clothing, and medicines.

Photo of Pender Harbour Jewel from West Coast Log Homes

Highly resistant to weather, decay, rot, and insects make western redcedar and yellow cedar ideal materials for outdoor construction such as shingles, siding, decking, and fencing. Durable, low maintenance, and long-lasting, they’re perfect to use for residential construction. The aromatic scent, natural beauty and texture gives interior homes a unique, sleek look. Furniture, ceilings, feature walls, and exposed beams are just a few ways to use cedar indoors.

When it comes to building acoustic guitars, both cedar varieties are used for the instrument’s most important piece, the soundboard (the top of the guitar’s body). The wood is lightweight and provides good sound projection and volume. It also has an attractive visual appeal with its colours ranging from light yellow to reddish-brown with a straight and uniform grain pattern.

Western redcedar and yellow cedar stand as a symbol of resilience, versatility, and cultural significance in BC. These beautiful trees continue to shape landscapes, enrich interiors, and inspire creativity, serving as a testament to their legacy.