The story of a tree

Portrait of the maple tree by Alice Hinther, 2007

Norway Maple stump with the red X
Carol MacLeod with her young successor birch

By Jennifer Humphries

It’s no secret that mature trees in our neighbourhood, some of them centenarians, are coming down at an accelerating clip.

The Victoria Day weekend derecho storm struck Carol MacLeod’s 85-year-old Norway maple, torqueing four branches. Norways are brittle, and the tree had been damaged before. Ottawa Forestry Services determined that this city property tree must come down and, given its challenges, MacLeod had to agree.

But when the tree was removed, the arborist noted that rot was limited to just one high section. In retrospect, MacLeod told me, she believes that had she consulted an arborist and discovered this earlier, she could have pushed to save the tree. She recommends that anyone who would like to retain a tree that is on the city’s chopping block should engage their own arborist to take a look. That would include drilling in different sections to determine the tree’s health. The city might still decide that the tree is a danger to your home or to passersby on the street, even if it is healthy. But it would be worth a try.

Knowing that the maple would eventually be removed, MacLeod planted a white birch alongside it a few years ago. Her successor tree is thriving.

Curiously, just before the removal began, four crows perched in the maple and cawed non-stop for 15 minutes. An avian farewell, it seems.

Jennifer Humphries is tree lead for the Environment Committee of the Glebe Community Association ( and co-chair of the Glebe Report Association.



Share this