How old are the Champlain Oaks?
This garage was built when the bur oak beside it was a much smaller tree, back in about 1950. Since then, the back wall of the garage has felt the tree's power and is no longer where it originally was. But the tree, which has a trunk more than 1 meter in diameter, remains firmly in place! The subtle message: sorry humans, I was here first!
Good question. Short answer: they're really old.
Bur oaks are one of the slowest growing and longest-lived native oaks in North America. They can live 250 to 300 years.
The largest of the oaks in our neighbourhood are more than a metre in diameter, which means they are between 130 and 190 years old.
One tree (preserved at the Champlain Park field house) has been dated by a specialist as having turned from acorn to sapling in 1856. That would make it 164 years old, had it not been felled as part of an infill development in 2010. Ottawa's Urban Tree Conservation By-law, passed in 2009, did not conserve this giant bur oak. Advocacy by our group and by others in Ottawa between 2011 and 2019 centered on pleading with municipal officials and politicians to protect mature trees in the urban core. Our efforts, although valiant, were largely ineffectual and at least a few of the giant bur oaks were felled by developers and property owners intent on building large footprint buildings.
Visit the outdoor display at Champlain Park and the indoor interpretive panels at the fieldhouse to learn more about the Champlain Oaks.
Check out a series of blog posts from 2017 and early 2018 to learn how Forests Ontario listed 7 of the Champlain Oaks as heritage trees.
They are the only such trees in Ottawa.