Are you aware that our Westboro Beach community has bur oaks over 1 meter in diameter and upwards of 150 years old or older? Do you know how Lac Deschênes got its name? Do you have a bur oak on your property and don't even know it? Read on ...
A traditional food source for early native peoples over millennia, the historical record of bur oaks in this area begins in 1685 when French army Captain Chevalier de Troyes noticed them on a three month journey to drive the British from Hudson Bay Company forts on James Bay. These fur trade forts were providing too much competition for the Montreal-based Compagnie du Nord so the French wanted to do away with them. De Troyes remarked in his journal on the oak forest between Chaudiere Falls and Deschênes (Oak) Rapids. He then went on to capture the forts.
Now valued not only for their majestic beauty, these robust hardwoods serve our neighbourhoods through oxygenating the air, cleansing it of pollution, providing shade, and providing wildlife habitat and food. Bur oaks grow locally to a diameter of well over a metre and can live for 150 years or more. Numerous mature bur oaks can be found in our community. Can you find some?
In communities fortunate enough to have large mature trees such as Westboro Beach and nearby Champlain Park, bur oaks are under threat of being cut down to make way for new infill housing. Such housing, often semi-detached, requires more lot area than a single detached house and developers seek to remove trees to make room thereby reducing the yard space. This is happening more and more frequently in our community. Trees have great difficulty surviving the harsh impacts of construction and the associated loss of natural buffer around them. The adjacent photo on the upper left shows a magnificent bur oak which was spared when new semi-detached housing was built. Will it survive the stress of construction, having its roots severed, and the "hardening" of the landscape around it? Time will tell but we hope this tree will not be lost to the community. For information on tree protection see Healthy Trees Primer in the Nature section of this website.
Learn about the citizen-initiated Champlain Oaks Project at http://www.champlainoaks.com. The website contains a lot of information on bur oaks and trees in general in Ottawa including the value of trees and the need to protect them.
Want to see where bur oaks are near where you live? WBCA volunteers did an inventory. See the results at http://www.champlainoaks.com/where-they-are-interactive-maps/.