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Westboro Beach and the Champlain Oaks

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

The following post comes from Westboro Beach resident Elliot Rodger.

Meredith and I went on the Champlain Park CA tree walk yesterday. It was 2 hours and fantastic – amazing what there is to learn about our own neighbourhood trees, the role they play and the interest they hold. John Arnason, a university professor and botanist who lives in CP gave a very informative talk. He agreed to participate in a Westboro Beach tree walk. There might be one or two others from CPCA we could enlist as well. The idea is to plan a walking tour based on tree species, their characteristics, their uses and benefits for citizens historically and currently. The tour would note any trees of historic significance – Bob Grainger would be really useful here. He could talk about the mill, etc. We could also try to get the City Forester. Wouldn’t it be something if Councillor Hobbs would come? Too bad she wasn’t there yesterday. There were also representatives of the Ottawa Forests and Greenspace Advisory Committee present yesterday. They talked about the value both in monetary terms and health terms of individual trees. Their information was quite an eye-opener. The CPCA is very interested in collaborating with WBCA on this.

Following is an article for the WBCA newsletter, and a photo of a bur oak at the north end of Latchford Road in Westboro Beach.

The Champlain Oaks

Our Own Heritage Trees

Our neighbourhoods along the Ottawa River are blessed with a special tree, the bur oak, denizen of the ancient forests of the river valley. Long used by aboriginal people as a famine food source, bur oaks were first recorded historically by the Chevalier De Troyes in 1686 when, on his way to James Bay, he remarked in his journal on the oak forest between Chaudiere Falls and Lac Des Chênes (“lake of oaks”). Now valued not only for their majestic beauty, these robust hardwoods serve our neighbourhoods through oxygenating the air, cleansing it of pollution, and providing shade. Unfortunately we are in danger of losing bur oaks through development. A bur oak over one meter in diameter and over 180 years old was recently cut down on Northwestern Avenue to accommodate construction of a new house. As a result the community of Champlain Park across Island Park Drive has rallied to protect its bur oaks. The bur oaks of Westboro Beach Community are also part of this urban forest and deserve protection.

Members of the Westboro Beach Community Association are undertaking to catalogue our bur oaks and are coming around the neighbourhood to locate and measure them. This information will be added to the interactive map on the website below. Some of our giants are over 1 m in diameter! We hope to encourage the City to protect our trees for the future enjoyment of all. We also hope that Westboro Beach residents will come to know and appreciate these trees more. A neighbourhood tree walk is being planned. If you can contribute knowledge to the tree walk please contact us through info[at]westborobeach[dot]org

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