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What You Need To Know In Each Province About Cutting Down Your Own Christmas Tree

The rules are different across Canada.

Hello readers!

As you know, so many things look different in 2020. We’ve done our best to update this piece with COVID-related information, but make sure you call ahead before you head out to any Christmas tree farms this year — it’s entirely possible their protocols have changed.

Oh, Christmas tree!

For many Canadians, selecting and cutting down the perfect tree is a cherished holiday tradition. The tree becomes a backdrop for the season, and conjures up festive memories with its scent and twinkly lights.

There are plenty of choose-and-cut tree farms in every Canadian province, but for those who want to try tree hunting, à la Griswold family, and head out onto public land to collect their conifer, the legality of doing so varies across Canada. No two provinces have the same process and guidelines for cutting down a Christmas tree.

The most wonderful time of the year is creeping up — and so are your stress levels, probably — so we’ve done the research. Here’s what you need to know in each province about foraging for your own Christmas tree:

Newfoundland and Labrador

A permit is not required to cut down a tree on Crown land, but the provincial government asks that foragers keep several things in mind before sawing begins.

Under the “Cutting of Timber Regulations,” it is illegal to cut any tree within 102 metres of the centre line of any highway, cut any trees in a forest improvement or preservation area, or to cut down a large tree just to saw off the top for use as a Christmas tree.

The government also asks that residents carefully decide on a tree before any cutting begins, as it’s illegal to leave cut trees behind in the forest if there’s a change of heart.

Nova Scotia

There’s nothing illegal about cutting down your own tree in Nova Scotia, per se, but the provincial website warns that Nova Scotians should avoid heading into the woods with a saw: “you may be trespassing and stealing!”

Instead, the government recommends that Bluenosers head to a u-pick.


Prince Edward Island does not have any rules in place making it illegal to cut down your own Christmas tree, but they don’t offer a permit either.

“We hope that anyone doing that activity would check with the landowner, first, if they’re looking at cutting on private land,” government spokesman Wayne MacKinnon told HuffPost Canada.

New Brunswick

In New Brunswick it’s up to an official to decide whether a tree cutting permit will be granted, based on where the applicant is planning to cut. This is done to keep people from taking trees from protected areas. Permit applications can be obtained from a district office of the Department of Energy and Resource Development.

Additionally, anyone interested in gathering balsam fir branches to create wreaths and holiday centrepieces must pay $20 for a tipping permit.

Planning to cut down your own tree this year? Watch these tips before you head out:


Cutting down a tree in the wilderness is an absolute no-go in Quebec, where the practice has been banned in the Sustainable Forest Management Act. Offenders face a first-time fine of $300, which goes up for each re-offence.


Cutting a tree from public land in Ontario may result in an all-out field trip, especially for those living in the southern part of the province.

The provincial government requires tree hunters to head north, specifically north of the French and Mattawa rivers, if they want to cut their own tree. The cutting of conifers is not permitted in the southern part of the province.

A spokesperson for the government, however, told the Globe and Mail that they prefer people not forage their own tree, and buy from a Christmas tree vendor, instead.


Manitobans can help themselves to a tree on Crown land, but will need a permit to do so. The $5 permit allows the holder to cut down a tree less than three metres tall from a designated area.

Once the tree is cut, tree owners are not allowed to sell or barter it, nor can they give it away to another person.


The Saskatchewan government does not require a permit for Christmas tree harvesting, but asks that chopped trees be under four meters tall and not be taken from a renewed area.


Albertans who want to collect their own tree require a $5 foraging permit, which can be purchased from either the Sustainable Resource Development website or local website.

Permit holders can cut down as many as three trees under 2.5 metres in height in any approved area, but foragers are asked to avoid removing trees from viewpoints, turnouts, reclaimed sites and steep slopes where the trees help keep the soil in place.

British Columbia

There’s no charge to cut down your own tree in British Columbia, but a permit is required. Applicants must state where they intend to cut and are asked to not cut on private land or parks, from areas near water, or from plantations and research areas.

British Columbians can apply for their permit on the Natural Resources website, and the permit is good for 30 days from the date of application.

How to keep your Christmas tree fresh:

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