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Forests Ontario wants to document these ‘living landmarks’

April 7, 2017

By: Chatham Daily News

Forests Ontario is calling on residents across the province recognize Ontario’s living landmarks – heritage trees – as a way to celebrate Canada’s 150th year as a nation.

Chatham-Kent already has two trees recognized by the organization – an American white elm on Queen Street in Chatham and Shumard oak, located in Chatham’s Tecumseh Park.

Both trees were nominated by the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority.

The main benefit of recognizing these trees is education, said Randall Van Wagner, LTVCA’s manager of conservation lands and services.

He noted the large elm tree that stands in front of the former OPP detachment, which is now an apartment building, was able to survive the deadly Dutch elm disease that wiped out most of the species in North America.

The local elm tree is recognized by the University of Guelph has being one of the best remaining specimens in Ontario, Van Wagner said.

The Shumard oak in Tecumseh Park is more than 200 years old and was standing during the War of 1812.

The Heritage Tree program aims to enhance the awareness of the cultural, historical and ecological value of prominent trees across Ontario.

“As a relatively young country, our oldest trees are biological monuments and witnesses to our nation’s history,” said Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario, in media release.

“In our parks and backyards and along streets and trails we find trees that have inspired artworks, were planted by historical figures, or stand on the site of an event that shaped our history,” he added.

The next deadline to nominate a heritage tree is May 31. Go to heritagetree.ca for details.

Van Wagner said this recognition “doesn’t prevent anyone from removing these trees, but hopefully, it will teach people . . . there is some significance to these trees.

“Hopefully it will sway people to protect them and plant more (trees),” he added.

The LTVCA has worked with local filmmaker Wes MacDonald to create a documentary titled: ‘A Living History: Trees of Chatham-Kent’ which highlights eight heritage trees in the community, including the elm and Shumard oak.

The other trees featured in the documentary are:

A royal oak in the hamlet of Port Crewe, that grew from an acorn sent from Windsor Castle in 1937 to be planted to commemorate the visit of King George VI in 1939;

  • A cottonwood on Grande River Line in Dover Township;
  • An American sycamore on McKinley Road in Morpeth;
  • A bur oak on Eighth Line in Raleigh Township;
  • A pair of ginkgo trees, one male and one female, on the lawn of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Chatham, and;
  • A copper beech tree on Victoria Avenue in Chatham;

Van Wagner said the 50-minute film, which will be shown at the Chatham Library on April 20 at 6:30 p.m., highlights the fact “there’s a lot of history around here and these trees are tied to it.”

By: Chatham Daily News

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