Heritage above our heads - Peterborough Examiner - Ontario, CA
Magnificent old trees carry reminders of the past and hope for the future
Posted By DREW MONKMAN
There is a colossal burr oak on Homewood Avenue in Peterborough that has many a story to tell. Estimated at 200 to 300 years old, it has witnessed no less than the entire history of our city, from the time of the first settlers to the present era. Before that, it would have also observed the comings and goings of native people who used this area for hunting and fishing. Its corky, fire-resistant bark would have allowed it to survive the grass fires that these same hunters and fishers set in order to keep the land clear.
This burr oak is a wonderful example of a heritage tree. Heritage trees are not only the oldest trees in an area, but they often have stories of historical significance associated with them. The Ontario Heritage Tree Alliance (OHTA) defines heritage trees as "those that are community landmarks because of their unique physical, cultural and historical significance and that may be at risk unless their importance is recognized." There are provincial guidelines provided by the OHTA, but the responsibility for heritage tree programs ultimately lies with each municipality to implement or not, and to decide what qualifies as a heritage tree for that municipality. Peterborough does not as of yet have a heritage tree program.