The Death of a Tree

Denuded and sterilized, the land waits sullenly for the homes and strip malls that characterize the inexorable expansion of Brampton.

November 13, 2012 | | Blogs | Environment | Notes from the Wild

Two weeks ago one of my favourite trees was felled by a bulldozer. This tree, on Creditview Rd. in Brampton, was graced with the lovely arching form that only mature elms exhibit.

Before Dutch elm disease ravaged the land this beauty was common. The few remaining mature elms are rare treasures.

The lure of this elm was so powerful that I would include Creditview Road on my route to work simply to see it in the morning. The green and gold cropland surrounding it provided a lovely foil for its iconic form.

The cropland is no more. The soil that gave life to the wheat, the corn and the soybeans has been scraped bare by earth moving equipment. Denuded and sterilized, the land waits sullenly for the homes and strip malls that characterize the inexorable expansion of Brampton.

I knew the destruction of this landscape was imminent. New development announces itself with cheery signs and property stakes. But I harboured hope for the elm. Fencing had been placed around it. I thought – naively it turned out – that “my” elm would be saved.

The elm now lies ingloriously in the mud, its roots ripped from the desolate earth.

I realize that thousands of trees are felled every day in this province to feed various appetites. I realize as well that landowners have certain broad rights to do as they wish with the property they own.

But, perhaps it is time to try to enshrine some protection for trees of character – trees that rate highly for certain features including size, rarity, cultural importance and the admittedly subjective quality of beauty.

The elm will continue to influence the route I take to work. I’ll now avoid the place where it once stood.

Do you have a favourite tree?

If so, share with us where it is…

The Town of Caledon had a nominate a tree program running in 2012 until the end of August…

The folks at Heritage Caledon have announced the Great Caledon Heritage Tree Hunt – and they’re asking Caledon residents to nominate trees for heritage distinction. Along with size and age, culturally significant trees are those associated with historic events or people. They may have been planted by pioneers or to honour a war hero or family member. They may have survived a flood, fire – or housing development. In short, they are “witnesses to yesteryear,” with a story to tell. If you know of a worthy Caledon tree fill in the form… and try submitting it.

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".

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  1. Hi Don,

    How sad to lose a treasure such as this! It sounds as if Caledon has a good idea – let’s hope that it helps save some special trees. Why can’t other municipalities adopt a similar program?

    You ask for favourites; I have a number, also elms. They are beside Highway #6 on the way to the Bruce Peninsula – several just north of Durham and a couple others about half way between Hepworth and Wiarton.

    Read Whatmough from Georgetown ON on Jun 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Reply

  2. My husband has a most favourite tree on Winston Churchill blvd heading north into Orangeville. It is on the west side of the road . It is very unique and looks like it is half dead ! He always comments on it when passing it . He plans on taking pictures so he can always have it to look at !!

    Lori from Erin on Nov 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Reply

  3. Many years ago when I was living in the Ottawa Valley (long before I had a digital camera) I was driving home on my country road and blown away by the site of a harvest moon behind this craggy giant tree, very much like the one above. I’m not sure what type of tree it was but it was mostly dead. In it’s cragginess there was such art! I quickly drove home to get my camera and had to replace batteries. When I finally drove back I was stunned. During that half hour that I was gone, they had cut down the tree. It was shocking. I sobbed in my car for ten minutes over this. I thought of the birds who had lost their home and of the missed opportunity to record this moment. It reminded me (and still does to this day) how important it is to be in the moment and seize the day; not to put off til later what can be right now and to really appreciate the beauty all around us.

    Susan Evitts from Canada on Nov 16, 2012 at 11:13 am | Reply

    • Dear Susan,
      I’m struck by how emotional our bond with certain trees can become. They seem to touch a chord deep inside us. There should be standard procedures (municipally, provincially) to advocate on behalf of significant trees.
      Your “craggy, giant tree” touched you, but it also was important to the ecology of the area where it stood. Old, even dead trees, provide nesting sites for a host of birds and small mammals, they are insect larders that feed birds and they serve as observation posts for hawks and owls.
      Thank you for caring about trees,

      Don Scallen

      Don Scallen on Nov 17, 2012 at 10:46 am | Reply

  4. Dear Don,

    Your insight and consideration, needs to find its way to more of those people who make these decisions. I am a forester in the area. My heart is broken whenever these tragedy’s come to light. The truth of the situation for what I can gather is corporate inertia. It will always overwhelm the voice of many. They know of the awesome destruction they cause. It may even pain a few of them mildly! However, until the structure of corporations change, the shareholders will reign supreme, and anything in its path that has not been paid off or managed to absentia will be pulverized. How sick do we all have to be to realize trees are our silver bullet of ancient technology! Thank you for your thought full writing, take good care. John.

    John Hennessy from Georgetown ON on Nov 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Reply

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