Reconstructing the history of populations is a longstanding goal of molecular ecologists. In addition to a better understanding of the past, it is hoped that this knowledge would also facilitate predictions regarding species’ responses to future events such as climate change. The traditional way of doing this is through the fossil record, but these historical records are often incomplete. Inferring historical demography from patterns of nucleotide variability can help to fill these gaps. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Holliday et al. (2010) glimpse into the demographic past of Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis, an economically and ecologically important species native to northwestern United States and Canada, by examining the site frequency spectrum (SFS) of 153 loci in six populations covering the species entire range.