Loss of Iconic Trees
The recent band of violent storms that went through southern Ontario caused a lot a damage, most notably the destruction of a truly iconic silver maple tree in Toronto
. It has been know as the tree that was the inspiration of the wonderful anthem, "The Maple Leaf Forever" which was written, by Alexander Muir
, a local teacher, at the time of Confederation. I remember singing it often as a child along with "God Save the Queen". Our official National Anthem is "O Canada". I remember fondly the tune of "The Maple Leaf Forever" but it's lyrics are of a different time and place. It is a celebration of British Imperialism and settlement of North America. It is out of step with the bilingual./ multicultural country Canada has become.
This is the "Maple Leaf Forever" Silver Maple tree
The loss of this Silver Maple tree got me thinking about the relatively recent loss of other iconic trees. The most striking of these was the Golden Spruce
on Haida Gwaii,
sacred to the Haida Nation. It was vandalized and cut down.
Other iconic trees lost in recent years was the last first generation tree of the original Macintosh apple. It was discovered growing as a wild apple in Eastern Ontario. It was better than other apples so the Macintosh grew it reproduced it and cloned it. It came to be the most popular eating and baking apple in Eastern North America. Several varieties were developed from it including my favourite when I lived in Connecticut, the Macoun. The last first generation tree was on the farm next to the Macintosh farm which is still a family apple farm.
Then there is the Kirkwood Giant White Pine
tree that was in the Kirkwood Forest near Thessalon. It laid claim to the tallest tree in Ontario, nearly 50 meters high., A storm brought it down after growing there for over 355 years.
There are iconic trees of all varieties in Ontario, by age
. They actually keep track of these things. There is even a Facebook site
where you can post pictures of great trees. Some of these pictures remind me to the loss of Elm trees of my youth to Dutch Elm Disease. To day we are faced with the loss of Ash Trees due to the Ash Bore Beetle and most devastating is the eventual loss of Pine Trees across the continent to the Pine Beetle.
There are also iconic stands of tree under threat. The largest stand of red pine are not far from where I live. They are around Jack Lake a lovely lake with petroglyph drawing on the rocks. The right to cut them was owned by a local saw mill when I Ministry of Natural Resource technician recognized their unique nature. He recognized this site be protected from logging. Unfortunately, they have allowed a mining exploration effort go on dangerously close to them. North of here is the largest old grown forest stand of White Pines in the Temagami region. The local aboriginal community see this as a sacred place. It is vulnerable to logging still.Time will tell. I learned long ago that there is a unique stand of Red Spruce within the boundary of Algonquin Park. I wish I had known this before I paddle right past it without knowing years ago. Sometimes one should get off the water and into the forest.
Just where we thought we knew everything about forest in Ontario they discovered a rare forest along the Niagara Escarpment, (over which Niagara Falls, falls) which runs from Niagara Falls to Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron. Along part of the Escarpment in the midst of the most populated part of Ontario, they discovered the oldest trees in Ontario, possibly North America. They are scrub white cedar clinging to the escarpment. The oldest identified so far dates from 688 AD. This remarkable forest was right in front of our eyes and we only recently learned of it's rarity. This story can be found here
Park if the Niagara Escarpment.
Change is coming to our forest due to climate change. We should love our trees and forests while we can. In particular we should continue to replant the urban forests of our cities. These are very important for many reasons from the aesthetic, to animal habitat, to using up carbon monoxide and giving off oxygen to keeping us cooler. We can never have too many trees in the city. There is much destruction of trees in storms and development that the planting and protection of trees is a major concern of cities that want to improve the habitability of itself.
Do you have a favourite of iconic tree?