Monday, February 13, 2012

From Samuel Hearne to NAFTA


photo by Meghan Balough


Last November, at the Trenton Woodlot Conference, a forestry friend gave me a slice of white cedar burl.  It came from somewhere south of Bancroft and had been cut about fifteen years ago.


The burl had been cut cross-sectionally, with the tree included, the stem being about 11” diameter and the burl about 24” in the longest direction.


This winter I carved it with the intention of having it ready for my next sale but, as the rings became clearer, I realized that I would probably never sell it; the tree had 224 rings.  A healthy white cedar, in optimum conditions, could, conceivably, reach this diameter in 40 years.


photo by Meghan Balough

To put this in perspective, I employed another interest of mine, Canadian exploration and mapping.


This tree began life about the time Samuel Hearne completed his trip down the Coppermine River in 1771, becoming the first European to see the Arctic Ocean.  At this time, maps of Canada showed little west of Lake Superior.


This tree was already growing when the United Empire Loyalists began arriving on our shores.


It was over 70 years old when the Franklin expedition disappeared into the Arctic, and was almost 100 at Confederation.


The burl began growing somewhere around the time Roald Admunsden became the first to navigate the Northwest Passage.  It continued growing for another 90 years up to the end of the 20th century.


While this is not an old tree by cedar standards (some in Bon Echo Park are nearly 1000 years old), it’s special to me and, be forewarned, if you come to visit, I’ll make you look at it.


I’ll even provide a magnifying glass if you want to verify the age.



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