By Sarah Housser
In June 2019, I looked out the front window of our house and a flash of white caught my eye. When I investigated, I discovered that bark had been meticulously cut around our large blue spruce tree. Not being familiar with such things, I quickly googled “why would someone remove bark around a tree?” and learned about girdling, a process used to kill trees. My husband and I were shocked. This tree was near our house and it chilled us to think who would do this? When were they crawling around our property? And why?
As is common in the Glebe, we talk to each other. At drop-off at the Glebe Coop Nursery School, I bumped into a friend and told her. It was such a crazy story! She mentioned it to another person who worked for the Ottawa Citizen, and next thing I knew, I received a call from Bruce Deachman, a Citizen reporter who wanted to write a “whodunit” piece about the mystery of tree murder in the Glebe. We are private people and hesitated about taking the story public. What would people think? But my protective “mama-bear” side wanted it to be public to protect us from anything further. The act of vandalism was so wrong and our kids were so troubled by it that I wanted the support of good people to counter this sense of violation.
Bruce wrote a great piece. Before we knew it, we were being overwhelmed with support. A woman named Carrie from Sandy Hill dropped off a new little tree on our porch with a note saying “Here is a tree as a symbol that people care that this happened to you. Please let your boys know that most people are good.” We were also contacted by Neal from Up There Tree Care who offered to remove the dead spruce free of charge, which he did last April. The Glebe Report wrote a piece about it and a GoFundMe campaign raised over $1,000 to replace the tree, many of the donations coming from the Glebe.
There were some COVID-related delays, but we are happy to share that in October we planted two new trees to replace the lost one – a multi-stem Serviceberry bush and a River Birch. The costs of the trees and planting them was covered by donations, with the remaining $100 being donated to Ecology Ottawa.
We are incredibly grateful for the way the community helped turn this act of vandalism into a positive story of support. It means so much to our family. The new trees will serve as a beautiful reminder of what Carrie from Sandy Hill said: “Most people are good.”
Sarah Housser lives in the Dow’s Lake area and appreciates trees and community.