Catherine of the Trees

CBC is reporting that “Island heritage activist Catherine Hennessey forced crews to stop cutting down an old tree in Charlottetown Thursday morning.” While this is technically true, it was, in fact, my very own consort Catherine [Miller] who spotted the tree about to be felled, called Catherine [Hennessey] and the media and ran over (leaving Oliver in the care of my mother) to spiritually chain herself to it.

Catherine would never seek credit for this herself, of course, and credit isn’t really what’s important. The tree is among her favourites — we look at it right out our front window — and she merely wanted to ensure that if it was going to be cut down it was for a valid reason. That still isn’t clear.

Oliver is being well-schooled.


Kevin's picture
Kevin on January 30, 2004 - 15:49 Permalink

I was told that 2 large, healthy trees were cut down in front of Fanningbank this spring because the Lt. Governor felt he deserved a better view of the harbour. Does anyone know if this is correct. There must have been another reason. I cannot imagine trees of this age in this location (along the road through Victoria Park) were cut to firewood because a transitory tenant wanted it done. It really seems silly since hurricane Juan did his own pruning a few months later.

Gary's picture
Gary on January 30, 2004 - 16:04 Permalink

There was a lot of weeping and knashing of teeth about lost trees in the days after Hurricane Juan. How sincere was this. It became open season on any tree with broken branches hanging from it. “It’s a hazard and must be removed.” To deny this was a bit like arguing aginst motherhood to oppose this. I heard some of the residents of the south side of Connaught Square saying that all the remaining trees were rotten and should be cleared.
Someone is making a lot of money removing these trees and of course it’s in their interest to never give the benefit of doubt to an injured tree.

Marcus's picture
Marcus on January 30, 2004 - 20:01 Permalink

Maritime Electric (and Summerside Electric) has a big role to play in the slaughter of PEI’s urban forests.

Why can’t the provincial gov’ts & municipal gov’ts (maybe even federal through infrastructure funds), sit down with Maritime Electric and figure out a strategy to begin burying power lines on most roads and streets?

I say start with the historical districts in Charlottetown and Summerside and work out. Many small towns & centres in Quebec, Ontario and out west bury their power lines and it is aesthetically very pleasing. Plus you don’t lose electricity in wind & ice storms.

It’s not like PEI is composed of bedrock so the excuse of cost just doesn’t wash with me. Maritime Electric & the powers that be just don’t see how damned ugly those lines are on the landscape.

Derek Martin's picture
Derek Martin on January 30, 2004 - 20:20 Permalink

Kevin, I heard the same story from a friend who wrote the Queen & many others to complain about it. I never saw it, but she told me it was covered briefly in the press, with various blame-shifting between Fanningbank & the City. However, it’s still 2nd hand coming from me.

Craig Willson's picture
Craig Willson on January 31, 2004 - 12:14 Permalink

When I was in Adelaide, Australia last May I remarked on the beautiful trees scattered throughout the city and residential area. The prominent variety was a type of gum tree. Apparently when young, they grow over 10 feet a year and they are huge. Each is so large that they seem to form a unique little micro-environment.

As I walked around with my son-in-law he explained that each tree had a known history. The person or organization that planted the tree was known (often over a century ago) and that the history and health of the tree was documented. Sick trees occur and are destroyed. However, when it happens everyone is informed and the issue is discussed before action is taken.

Ritchie Simpson's picture
Ritchie Simpson on February 5, 2004 - 22:04 Permalink

I see the city crews on Water St. this afternoon, having their way with another old master of the streets in front of the Lennox.

Rob L.'s picture
Rob L. on February 6, 2004 - 14:33 Permalink

I personally have no problem with selective culling of some of our old trees. Of course, Juan did a fairly good job of that for us, but it was very random. Consider a street like Pownal or Prince Street with rows of old towering trees. If we do nothing, in 30 years most of them will be dead anyway. If they’re all replaced at once we’ll be left with an entire street with nothing but spindly, newly planted twigs. Alternatively, if we were to remove, say, every third old overmature tree now and plant new trees in their place, repeating again every 20 or 30 years, we could ensure a healthy and mature treescape forever. The key is periodic renewal — a mixture of young and old. Some of the old trees are quite pathetic looking — very decrepit old limbs, pieces lopped off over the years to make way for power lines, etc. Some of them are literally growing in the street! Nobody likes to see an old tree cut down, but having peronally planted more than 20,000 myself, and having managed the planting of more than 2 million trees right here on PEI, I don’t mind advocating the removal of a couple dozen old ones.

Rob L.'s picture
Rob L. on February 6, 2004 - 14:39 Permalink

Hmm… just did some rough calculations. That 20,000 figure I estimated should actually be closer to 100,000. My back hurts just thinking about it.

Rusty's picture
Rusty on February 6, 2004 - 14:47 Permalink

The problem is that the City’s removal and planting of trees seems just as random as Hurricane Juan. If we knew that they cut down dead (or dying) trees and they were replaced by some definable methodology, then I’d feel alot more confident that our arborial heritage wasn’t being squandered for a few weeks of EI.

Rob L.'s picture
Rob L. on February 6, 2004 - 15:13 Permalink

Rusty… can’t argue with you there. Have you ever noticed the number of maple trees that have been planted in the last 20 years or so directly, and I mean directly underneath tel/power lines? It’s a shame. They end up getting hacked and mangled by Maritime Electric crews and growing into all kinds of weird unhealthy and unappealing shapes.

Derek Martin's picture
Derek Martin on February 6, 2004 - 15:58 Permalink

If we do nothing, in 30 years most of them will be dead anyway.”

Is this really true?

Rusty's picture
Rusty on February 6, 2004 - 16:28 Permalink

… and maple trees are notoriously fast-growing, bushy and leafy. If they even tried a different species under the wires, they wouldn’t have to do nearly as much tree-mangling.