Ottawa

Ottawa group seeks to preserve ancient oaks

A community group in Ottawa wants to preserve and protect a group of two dozen old-growth oak trees that pre-date Confederation.
Dennis Van Staalduinen stands next to the 180-year-old oak tree on his property. Laurie Fagan/CBC

A community group in Ottawa wants to preserve and protect a group of two dozen old-growth oak trees that pre-date Confederation.

The 24 Bur Oaks are in Champlain Park, a neighbourhood along the Ottawa River Parkway just west of Tunney's Pasture.

Residents in the neighbourhood started the Champlain Oaks Project to document the trees on a website after a developer cut down a giant oak earlier this year.

"That got people looking at trees differently," said project leader Daniel Buckles, who said people now appreciate their size, beauty and historical links to early Canadian history.

On Wednesday, residents in the area gathered around the oldest oak — 180 years old — to celebrate National Tree Day. 
A map of the 24 oaks in the neighbourhood. Champlain Oaks Project

Dennis Van Staalduinen knows the tree well, as it pushes against the collapsing back wall of his garage. He's had to reinforce the wall of the garage to keep it from caving in, but said he wouldn't part with the 20-metre-high, 1.6-metre-diameter tree.

"We saw this massive tree and it's really one of the reasons we fell in love with this place," said Van Staalduinen. "It certainly dwarfs many of the houses, and it can be seen from many blocks around."

Van Staalduinen said urban trees must be protected.

"It's about seeing the connection that make up an urban forest that create homes for animals and birds," he said. "It's a system that we're superimposing ourselves on and we must respect it."