The McArthur Island Tree– Should it Stay or Should it Go?

The McArthur Island Tree– Should it Stay or Should it Go?


I vowed to never write a piece about local government after my heart attacks as I take my town way too personally because I care. So I haven’t–I have shared media reports, and left it at that. If folks want to look badly and not worry about what kind of legacy they are going to leave when they end their town political career so be it. But yesterday after I saw posts from Allan and Emily Stanzel about the possible removal of the 120 year-old Hackberry tree on McArthur Island in Carleton Place I got angry.

In 1952 there was one lone Hackberry tree left in Ottawa near Brewer Park and the George Dunbar bridge. It had a white picket fence around it, and a sign that said “Do Not Destroy”.  The late mayor of Ottawa, Charlotte Whitton, whose cousins were from Carleton Place, insisted these trees be protected.




If you didn’t know, Carleton Place’s official tree is the Hackberry Tree, and our park of trees on Mill Street is the largest grouping of Hackberry trees in Eastern Ontario. They are native to the area and are thought to have been brought here by the indigenous peoples for their medicinal qualities. The Hackberry tree was once protected, but it’s okay now, and only the Dwarf Hackberry tree is still protected here in Ontario.



The town plaque indicates how rare these trees are in this part of Ontario, but now there  might be plans to cut down one of the biggest and oldest specimens in the area. I would say he is the “Grandfather tree” of the area. Even if the developer replaces it with a young new Hackberry tree, is this good enough? Should we just lay down and give up if they plan to cut this big, beautiful 120+ year-old tree down to make room for a traffic circle/sidewalk?



On  May  17,  2013, Justice  Moore of  the  Ontario  Superior  Court  of  Justice  ruled  that  trees  whose  trunks  grow  across property  lines  are  the  common  property  of  both  owners.  Neither  owner  can  injure  or  destroy  a  shared  tree  in Ontario without  the  consent  of  the  other. A tree on a property line in Ontario is jointly owned by both property owners based on a ruling by Justice J. Patrick Moore on May, 17 2013 in the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The Ontario Superior Court verdict in May 2013, which went unnoticed by most anyone not involved in Hartley v. Scharper,  created some of the most stringent and detailed law on tree preservation in Canada. Cutting down a shared tree or chopping at wayward branches without a neighbour’s approval could now be a criminal act, punishable under the provincial Forestry Act.

Someone said the tree is on private property, but if you look closely at the photo those trunk roots go way under the road which I think is owned by the town. Correct me if I am wrong. So, if the town owns the road, we have in essence two owners/neighbours of that particular tree.


The tree stays


This tree in the photo above is at St. James Gate and was protected by the Carleton Place council in 2013. Just remember that owing to a 6-1 vote by Carleton Place council, a request from Shaiin Charania, owner of St. James Gate Irish Pub & Restaurant, to remove a tree within the boundary of his establishment’s outdoor patio was rejected. – Tara Gesner/METROLAND


You know in the end none of us are getting out alive, so we need to stop treating this town as an afterthought. Everyone enjoy our restaurants, shop at our local stores, walk in the sunshine on our trails. Always say the truth of what you are carrying in your heart like the hidden treasure it is– as there is absolutely no time for anything else.

The history of Carleton Place is important to its identity. Hopefully, the developers can figure out a way to accommodate both. If we lose sight of that, what have we got? If you don’t like how things are, say something, do something, as the tree can’t. They have no voice–we do.

Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.” –― Cree Indian Prophecy 

Credit to Emily Nicole Stanzel for raising the issue and starting the Petition!!

Save the tree Sign the Petition


Screenshot 2017-12-03 at 17.jpg

Tuesday night Council December 4th meeting agenda

Received from Joanna Bowes, Manager of Development Services
Addressed to Planning and Protection Committee
Date October 13, 2017
Topic DP3-04-2017, 150 Mill Street, McArthur Island



Jennifer Fenwick Irwin —From my understanding, the developer is working on ways to avoiding this with the urban forest Committee -the Planning Department has no legislation that would prevent its removal. It is not a species at risk. However it must be replaced with another Hackberry Tree.


Ronald Y–This magnificent tree should be cherished and protected. Development should preserve, not destroy, our distinctive, established, fragile natural heritage – not destroy it and lose what makes our community special. Development should respect and work around this precious tree and others like it, not eliminate it for the sake of conformity, convenience, and a quick buck.

Allan Stanzel– Great article Linda hopefully they will re design around the tree. A good spin could be put on this for marketing the McArthur re design. Also not sure of the exact property lines with regards to the high water mark of the river. I understand that X number of feet from a river or lake is not owned. Again not sure of distance.



Doug B. McCarten–This grouping of 5 Hackberry trees still survive in our old side yard….I can’t believe how healthy and how tall they have grown! This group was always in our yard and I suspect that they would be at least as old as our house which is in the same age group as the one you are trying to save!! The simple answer is to route the road around the tree and protect the tree!! It can and should be done! The McCarten House of Carleton Place–Ginko Tree




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The McCarten House of Carleton Place–Ginko Tree


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collagelost trees.jpg

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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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