Forests Ontario has granted the status of Heritage Tree to a 150-year-old Sycamore tree, standing at London’s historic Eldon House. The tree has been bestowed the status in a ceremony attended by representatives from Forests Ontario, Eldon House, City of London and ReForest London.
The tree is 84 feet tall and has a trunk circumference of more than three feet. It was planted by a person called John Harris, who built and first owned Eldon House.
John Harris arrived at Canada as part of the British Navy to fight in the War of 1812. He fought the Americans on the Great Lakes and won war honours. He met his wife, Amelia, after the war ended; they had 12 children, 10 of whom survived infancy.
He built Eldon House in 1834. The Harris family had kept the property for four generations before it was donated to the city in 1960. It has now become a historic site, where visitors are allowed individually or in groups. Guided tours of the property are available for groups of 12 persons or more.
“This tree is a part of our province’s past,” says Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario. “John Harris planted it a century and a half ago. The tree would go on to be played under and gazed upon by not only John’s children, but his grandchildren and great grandchildren. It is a reminder that when we plant trees, they are an investment in our future generations.”
This tree is home to a wide variety of animals, including sparrows, blue jays, cardinals, brown squirrels, raccoons and ground hogs. Forests Ontario’s Heritage Tree Programme aims to collect and tell the stories of Ontario’s unique trees, bringing awareness to their social, cultural, historical and ecological values.
“The Heritage Tree Programme not only allows us to celebrate our history, but also reflect on the importance of the long-term care of our trees and forests for a more sustainable tomorrow” says Andrea Barrack, Vice President of Global Corporate Citizenship, TD Bank Group. “Through our corporate citizenship platform, The Ready Commitment, we are proud to support Forest Ontario and this programme so that we can help create a legacy of healthy, vibrant communities for generations to enjoy.”
This is a rare and model gesture towards one of the invaluable assets of nature—a 150-year-old tree. If you have a similarly old tree somewhere nearby, do not hesitate to honour it.