The objective of this study is to determine the factors responsible for the distribution of Pinus resinosa (red pine) at its northern limit in northwestern Quebec. Pinus resinosa is found only on islands and protected lake shores at its northern distribution boundary. The influence of climate on the germination of P. resinosa seed and on the phenology of P. resinosa was investigated in the Lake Duparquet region of northwestern Quebec. The results indicate that P. resinosa seed readily germinates at island- and inland sites, which indicates that germination is not responsible for the distribution of P. resinosa in the Lake Duparquet region. Also, cones and seeds developed normally at island sites and an inland plantation, which suggests that seed production is not hindering the expansion of P. resinosa . These results, together with other studies in the literature, suggest that no climatic factor could explain the present distribution of P. resinosa nor its northern limit. The fire regime appears to be responsible for the restriction of P. resinosa to lake environments and hinders the northward expansion of P. resinosa. The typical crown fire regime of the boreal forest is not conducive for P. resinosa regeneration and restricts the species to fire-sheltered locations such as islands and protected lake shores.© IVAS; Opulus Press Uppsala.