Tree-seed collection going to private sector, Anne Learn Sharpe

September 25, 2017

Another forestry cultural jewel is being closed down.

The Barrie Examiner
September 22, 2017

Tree-seed collection going to private sector
Anne Learn Sharpe
Opinion

After 94 years, our provincial government is closing the doors of the Ontario Tree Seed Facility. Why now?

When the Tree Seed Plant was opened in 1923, it was a key part of an ambitious reforestation project in Ontario. The 19th-century lumber industry left acres of stumps and slash that farmers burned to plant crops. With the trees gone, water sources disappeared, soil turned to blow-sand, easily eroded by wind and rain.

A group of far-sighted foresters, politicians, civil servants and farmers pushed forward a long-term tree planting agenda that repaired the devastation and resulted in the Ontario Tree Seed Plant, the Midhurst Tree Nursery, Simcoe County Forests and the planting of two billion trees in Ontario. That’s quite a legacy.

But the challenges that faced those conservationists are still with us. Deforestation continues, due to development pressures and some agricultural practices. Climate change is escalating. With their capacity to store carbon as well as water and to moderate temperature, trees and forests are essential mitigators of climate change.

In 2018, the Ontario government plans to leave tree-seed collection to the private sector. If there is a business plan in place for this transfer, it hasn’t yet been made public.

Tree-seed collection is not a high-profit enterprise. A network of collectors from across the province must be trained to find quality seeds from healthy trees. At the Ontario Tree Seed Facility, exact temperature, humidity and timing must be maintained in each of the stages of processing seeds. Some of the equipment is industrial seed processing machinery and some has been adapted by longtime employees over many years.

This kind of experience can’t be transferred in a year.

Local tree nurseries are concerned about the continuity and quality of their seed supply and storage capacity to compensate for lean years. They have good reason. Will the private sector be able to provide the same consistent and professional service? Is that possible in a for-profit scenario?

Municipal officials were surprised by the closure announcement; the community and stakeholders were not consulted.

Have the impacts been assessed and a transition plan formulated? Have expanded uses for the facility been explored? And what will happen to the beautiful grounds planted with specimen native trees and shrubs?

The Ontario Tree Seed Facility is a positive legacy from politicians who acted for the long-term public good. Its closure would mark an abandonment of those principles.

Anne Learn Sharpe

Is there any provincial politician with ties to Simcoe County that cares two-hoots about trees?

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Methven A. “Matt” Adamson overcame many obstacles to found, nurture and defend Springwater Park.

May 4, 2016

A fellow forester told me recently that Major Adamson had to fight like hell with his superiors about the park’s very existence.

19490627 Adamson photo

From the Barrie Examiner June 27, 1949:

METHVEN A. “MATT” ADAMSON is superintendent of the Ontario Forestry Station at Midhurst. He is one of those responsible for the beautiful development at Springwater Park, picnic and recreational centre for thousands of Simcoe County folk and visitors from all over Canada and the United States.

Plaque Adamson

Plaque reads:

Springwater Park:  An everlasting tribute to the foresight, ingenuity and resourcefulness of Methven A. Adamson Superintendent Provincial Forest Station Midhurst during the period 1929 – 1956.

Plaque Adamson distance

Across from the Vespra Boys cairn, the main maintenance building in the back.

canadian-forestry-corps1

For more details, please see:


Charlie Day was a model Midhurst resident.

April 26, 2016

Charlie and Jean Day were my next-door neighbours on Bayfield Street when I was growing up.

19510222 Charles Day photo

From The Barrie Examiner, Thursday February 22, 1951:

Charles E. Day was recently elected president of the Barrie and District Civil Service Association. Previous experience with the association includes two years on the executive and six years with the sub-committee of the Department Council.

He is presently work foreman at the Midhurst Forestry Station, having been with the reforestry since 1928.

Born in Cambridge, England, Mr. Day received his education in that country. Upon finishing continuation school, he came to Canada and took up farming in Flos Township from 1920 to 1922. He farmed in the West the following year, returning east in 1924 to begin four years with the CPR.

Mr. Day left the employ of the CPR in 1928 and joined the staff of the Midhurst Reforestry as accountant.

He married the former L. Anne McGinnis of Midhurst in 1929 and they have one son, William. A member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Midhurst, Mr. Day has been warden of that church since 1929, with the exception of the war years.

He is a past master of Kerr Lodge AF&AM, Barrie, a member of the Lodge of Perfection, Scottish Rite, and Spry Sovereign Rose Croix Lodge, Barrie. A member of the Canadian Legion, Vespra Branch [149]. Mr. Day was president from 1936 to 1945. He saw war service in both World Wars. In the first war he served in the British Army with the 12th division, Kitchener’s Army. He joined the Grey and Simcoe Foresters  in 1940 and served with the A&T Staff till his discharge in 1945.

Mr. Day is an ardent hunter, and was connected with the Midhurst Athletic Club as secretary-treasurer from 1929 to 1934.

Mr. Robert Peacock was the only other Midhurst resident to serve in both World Wars.


First Memorial Zavitz-Drury bike ride, this Sunday, October 5

October 3, 2014

A very good way to celebrate our magnificent county forestry heritage

drury-zavitz-a

What: First Memorial Zavitz-Drury bike ride

When: Sunday October 5 at 10:30 am (weather permitting)

Where: meet at Spence Ave and Hwy 27 (ball diamond parking lot, Midhurst) and ride to Finlay Mill Rd, across Wattie Rd, down St. Vincent, left onto Pooles Rd, right onto Old 2nd S, left onto Partridge Rd. then down Penetanguishene Road to the plaque that marks the original Drury farm in Crown Hill. More info 705-424-7589

Alliston Herald article

Alliston Herald
September 22, 2014

Perfect season to bike through Simcoe County forests
Letter to the Editor
Anne Learn Sharpe

LETTER – The season is turning, leaves are showing hints of brilliance against the backdrop of dark pines — and it’s the perfect time for a bike ride. The story of the pine forests of Simcoe County begins with a very long bike ride.

In October of 1905, Edmund Zavitz, who was teaching forestry at the agricultural college in Guelph, set out on his bicycle and rode to Crown Hill north of Barrie to meet E. C. Drury, farmer and fellow conservationist. Their collaboration over the following decades led to the reforestation of Ontario.

In his book Two Billion Trees and Counting, John Bacher describes what the cutting and burning of trees had done to Ontario in the early 20th century: farmland had turned to blowsand and was drifting away, water sources had dried up and serious floods were becoming more common. Edmund Zavitz started planting trees. During E. C. Drury’s term as premier, 1919 to 1923, along with a team of colleagues, the two men created policies and projects to involve farmers and land owners in planting hardy red and white pines as pioneer species. These trees gradually held the soil in place and stored water to nourish further growth and prevent floods.

This is history we don’t hear enough about. What better way to commemorate it than with a bike ride? This October before you put away your bike for the season, plan a ride to one of the many places in Simcoe County where Zavitz and Drury left their mark. Any of the county forests would be a fine destination. Springwater Park was once the Midhurst Reforestation Station. Here in Angus, we have the Ontario Tree Seed Plant, and across the road Angus Community Park, once a part of the plant. In Crown Hill on the Penetanguishene Road, a plaque marks the site of the original Drury farm.

Zavitz and Drury left us a legacy of natural spaces that sustain our lives in countless ways. And they left us a strategy: don’t cut too many trees and be sure to plant many more than you cut—in other words, conservation. Their gift was meant to be enjoyed and passed on to next generations—it’s up to us to see that it is. Like Edmund Zavitz, we could start with a bike ride.

Anne Learn Sharpe,
Angus

Posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.


They’re coming for the Simcoe County and MNR forests…once again.

May 18, 2014

In the 1800s, the great hardwoods forests were clear cut. Starting in 1905, men like Hon. E.C. Drury and Dr. Edmund Zavitz worked to help Mother Earth heal us.

Jung1

Cancerous sprawl cannot stop itself by just destroying the land and water: the parasites are after the air.

The earthly manifestations of “God’s world” began with the realm of plants, as a kind of direct communication from it. It was as though one were peering over the shoulder of the Creator, who, thinking Himself unobserved, was making toys and decorations. Man and the proper animals, on the other hand, were bits of God that had become independent. That was why they could move about on their own and choose their abodes. Plants were bound for good or ill to their places. They expressed not only beauty but also the thoughts of God’s world, with an intent of their own and without deviation. Trees in particular were mysterious and seemed to me direst embodiments of the incomprehensible meaning of life. For that reason, the woods were the places where I felt closest to its deepest meaning and to its awe-inspiring workings. (MDR, PP. 67-8) PP. 28-9

The Lungs of the GTA

pdftree-lungs

 

Posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.


Ontario War Memorials visits and reports on the Vespra Boys cenotaph

November 26, 2013

This memorial is one small obstacle in the future development of these sacred lands, one which will be removed if the current political agenda is allowed to continue. Hopefully the will of the citizens of Springwater can win out over the tax-seeking, developer endorsed politicians of Ontario. 

Excerpt from OntarioWarMemorials.blogspot.ca:

Midhurst (Vespra Township)
Saturday, 2 November 2013

OnWar1

Location: Simcoe County N 44 26.393 W 079 45.723
Located inside Springwater Provincial Park. Follow the signs from Highway 26, park at the front gate and follow the path to the right, for 300 metres.

OnWar2

This historic memorial represents a story which is much more involved than meets the eye. The area where the memorial was erected is an area of conservation, of remembrance, and currently of conflict.

This area been used as traditional lands of the Native people who have lived here successfully for over 10,000 years, the rich hardwood forests supplying them with the means to survive and thrive. During the years of settlement, the Natives where eventually replaced by settlers and their farms. The land soon became barren, due to the sandy soil which could not support the toils of farming, and turned to a windblown wasteland of desert. Along came one of Ontario’s most prominent conservationists, Dr. Edmund Zavitz, Ontario’s first Chief Forester, who developed the idea of planting pine trees to stabilize the soil and thus helped to save the landscape across southern Ontario. Dr. Zavitz, along with future Premier Hon. E.C. Drury (1919-1922) established Ontario’s first demonstration forest right here, near Midhurst, in an area which had eroded to the point of no return and also contained several life-giving springs to sustain and grow his beloved pines. The springs are an important headwaters for the Minesing Wetlands, an internationally important, RAMSAR Convention wetlands. The Minesing Wetlands is the last, largest continuous wetlands in southern Ontario. For years this area was used by “Zavitz’s Boys” as a training ground for conservation and forestry. Over one million pines were planted in the Midhurst Forest Station, and eight to ten million seedlings were distributed across the province

With the outbreak of war in 1914, many of the local boys headed off to Europe to further serve their country and fight for freedom. Many never came back, and eighteen men from Vespra Township(now Springwater Township) lost their lives in the conflict. Dr. Zavitz arranged to pay tribute to these brave souls by erecting a monument in this forest, among the pines and natural springs, to pay tribute to the Vespra Boys. A stone cenotaph was hand-built in 1929 by local men Robert Mills and Harvey Spence under the direction of Methven A. Adamson, Superintendent of the Forest Station 1929 – 1956, The Vespra Boys cenotaph was the central focus of the Vespra Legion Branch 149 which started in 1929, had over 120 members at its height and was de-commissioned in 1974 because its membership fell below the minimum allowable. Two engraved plaques of limestone where embedded on the stone cairn. The inscription on the white marble front piece is Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – Latin from Horace meaning: It is sweet and right to die for your country. In 1913, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori was inscribed on the wall of the chapel of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK the British Army officer initial training centre. The phrase can be found at the front entrance to the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater at the Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, USA. On the back of the cairn, originally was a fountain of spring water, the essential element of life, along with a suitable plaque. In front of the memorial was once a small pond and fountain, a symbol of eternal life, now filled in and removed.

After the Second World War, a “V” for Victory was created across the bank of a small stream behind the memorial. The original configuration was made of Yew trees, and later changed to a stone V-shaped garden, which can still be seen today.

The area was designated a Provincial Park in 1958, and continued to grow, not only as a recreation area for the people of this region, but also as an area of continued conservation and appreciation of nature. Springwater Provincial Park is a tremendous asset to the people of Springwater Township and visitors alike.

The current provincial government, in its wisdom decided to close Springwater Park in October of 2012, along with nine other Provincial Parks. With encroaching development from Barrie, and the value of this land as a prospective tax base, the future of this beautiful park is under a severe threat. Shortly after the announcement of the closure of the park, the area was occupied by several Native people, destined to save this historic and unique forest from development. The Natives still occupy the park today, but allow visitors to enjoy the forest and roam freely under the tall pines.

The memorial itself is also under threat of being removed, with a group called Springwater Park Citizens Coalition trying their best to protect not only the park, but also to protect the memorial and keep it here in its chosen location, rather than have it moved to another location and possibly being damaged in the process. Recently the memorial was subjected to a severe sand-blasting of the stonework and several of the adjacent flowerpots and decorations were damaged in the process. The work done to the memorial has vastly changed the look, destroying the attractive patina acquired from years of weathering, and also caused cracks in the mortar, which will be destructive once the cold weather and ice wreaks its havoc. Why the Ministry of Natural Resources used such a destructive method is scandalous, although they claim they are trying to restore and preserve the cairn, they seem to have caused more damage than good. This memorial is one small obstacle in the future development of these sacred lands, one which will be removed if the current political agenda is allowed to continue. Hopefully the will of the citizens of Springwater can win out over the tax-seeking, developer endorsed politicians of Ontario.

This year on November 11th, a traditional Remembrance Day ceremony is scheduled to take place, despite the current situation, which will also include a tribute of the Native contribution to our nation in times of conflict. In the past, the MNR had placed a wreath at the cenotaph, but there had never been a proper ceremony. Now with the closing of the park, the local people are taking it upon themselves to do what is right.

OnWar3

The names of the eighteen Vespra Boys lost in the Great War:

· Arthur Bell
· Frederick Benson
· Ernest Cloughley
· Lewis Cole
· Ernest A. Finlay
· Wilson Greaves
· Wilfred Higgins
· Herbert Roy Hodgson
· George Hodgson
· Arthur Jacobs
· Wallace Key
· William Lang
· Garnet Maw
· John Muir
· William Parker
· James Henry (Harry) Priest
· Stanley Reynolds
· George Selkirk

OnWar4

Marker text:
Front:
LEST WE FORGET
1914-1918
IN MEMORY OF THE
VESPRA BOYS
WHO DIED IN THE
GREAT WAR
DULCE ET DECORUM EST
PRO PATRIA MORIUM

OnWar5

Back:
THROUGH SACRIFICE
WE DRINK OF LIFE

OnWar6

OnWar3

OnWar8

OnWar9

OnWar10

*Special thanks to from Mr. Les Stewart MBA, of the Springwater Park Citizens Coalition, for providing a guided tour of the site and for his never-ending quest to save Springwater Park. His notes and knowledge helped greatly with this posting.

Mr. Tim Laye was invited to document the war memorial at Springwater Park in the summer and the visit happened on October 18, 2013, one week after the sandblasting happened. Words and pictures: Tim Laye


Just a reminder about Remembrance Day at Springwater Park on November 11th

November 2, 2013

And a plea not to change what community leaders built circa 1929.

Clint Lovell2

Restore only as is necessary to preserve the design and structural integrity of a community heritage gem. When in doubt, do nothing and respect the builders’ thoughts and actions

A nice announcement by A Channel on October 31st about Remembrance Day (click here for details) called, Local students take on special Remembrance Day project:

Excerpt:

Students at Eastview Secondary School in Barrie have taken on a special project for Remembrance Day.

They’re researching the soldiers who are commemorated by the cenotaph at Springwater Park.

The Cenotaph, dedicated to the soldiers from Vespra who died in World War I, is being rededicated. The Friends of Springwater Park started the project and the students are helping learn more about the 23 names carved on the memorial.

Half a dozen students are doing the work and will be reading a little bit about the soldiers they are researching at the rededication on Remembrance Day.

Let’s hope Nancy Bigelow and the Friends of Springwater Park and Mr. Clint Lovell are not changing the monument by putting the names on a plaque and fixing the plaque on the cairn. The intent of men who built the cairn (Maj. Meth Adamsonwho directed it being built), Robert Peacock, Harvey Spence and Charlie Day) was NOT to record the names.

The sacrifice was borne largely by the deceased and their family but the whole community was affected.

Someone did check with Major Adamson’s children and grandchildren (many with prominent lives in Barrie) before they planned to change his design, didn’t they? Or at least the Springwater Heritage Committee. Right?

Why do people think they know better than those that death has silenced? if they wanted the names, don’t you think they would have done it back then? Are they listening even now?

Charlie Day and me


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