Radial growth of boreal tree species is only rarely studied in riparian habitats. Here we investigated chronologies of earlywood, latewood, and annual ring widths and blue intensity (BI; a surrogate to latewood density) from riparian lake shore and upland forest interior pines (Pinus sylvestris L.) growing in boreal forest in eastern Finland. Riparian and upland chronologies were compared to examine differences in the pine growth variability and growth response to climatic variation in the two habitats. It was found that the climatic variables showing statistically significant correlations with the tree-ring chronologies were related to snow conditions at the start of the growing season. Deeper snowpack led to reduced upland pine growth, possibly due to delayed snowmelt and thus postponed onset of the growing season. Warm late winters were followed by increased riparian pine growth because of earlier start of the snow-melt season and thus a lower maximum early summer lake level. Moreover, riparian pines reacted negatively to increased rainfall in June, whereas the upland pines showed a positive response. Latewood growth reacted significantly to summer temperatures. The BI chronology showed a strong correlation with warm-season temperatures, indicating an encouraging possibility of summer temperature reconstruction using middle/south boreal pine tree-ring archives.