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200-year-old tree in Thornbury gets surgery for longevity

Through participation in a charity called Tree Trust, The Blue Mountains hopes to extend the lives of more of the town's oldest trees through conservation arboriculture

In an effort to preserve significant trees in the community, the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) has officially joined Tree Trust.

“We all know about programs that plant new saplings, which is a great way to the launch the carbon heroes of tomorrow, but it is the big, existing trees we have today that are important to hang onto,” said Betty Muise, program coordinator with Tree Trust.

Tree Trust is a registered charity that was established by the Elora Environment Centre in June 2019.

“We started Tree Trust in response to the concern we had for the large number of big trees that were coming down and we wanted to see a way to hang on to them,” she said.

Through community donations, Tree Trust co-ordinates certified conservation arborists to work on extending the life of large, significant trees in the community.

Tree Trust was officially launched in TBM on Friday morning as arborists began working on the canopy of a 200-year-old Sugar Maple on the western edge of Thornbury, at 10th Line near the Georgian Trail.

TBM is the third community to join Tree Trust, following Stratford and the Toronto Islands.

“This is the first tree of what I hope will be many that are preserved in our community,” said Alar Soever, mayor of the TBM.

Soever was on-hand Friday morning with fellow town councillors Peter Bordignon and Paula Hope, as well as Ryan Gibbons, director of community services for TBM.

Soever helped to unveil a plaque that was donated by the town’s grants and donations committee, which will be placed on a granite stone that sits in front of the tree.

“It is great to see people in our community doing positive things to move our community forward,” he added.

Tobias Effinger, owner of Arboreal Tree Care and certified arborist, brought his crew and equipment to begin the process of preserving the 200-year-old tree.

“Sugar Maples are one of our most important native species and this is certainly a remarkable, notable one,” Effinger said.

“We are going to have to reduce the most vigorous part of this tree, the prominent stem, so that it doesn’t break out. If that were to break out it would be the beginning of the end of this tree,” he explained.

The ground surrounding the tree was also covered in wood chips and organic matter in an effort to mimic the forest floor and help the tree’s roots to withstand the hot sun.

Effinger said that with the proper care, he is hopeful that the tree will live another 100 years.

“In phase one of the process, all we can do is take some of its grandeur away and allow the tree to make the next move,” he said. “Then we wait a few years, it will react and throw up new shoots on the inside and then we start to prune back the new shoots in phase two.”

Phase two will see the new shoots become the canopy line and from that point on, Effinger says it is all about maintenance and watching for disease threats.

Tree Trust is now looking to TBM residents to nominate other large, significant trees in the community that may require some assistance from an arborist.

For more information, to donate, or nominate a tree in your area, visit

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Jennifer Golletz

About the Author: Jennifer Golletz

Jennifer Golletz covers civic matters under the Local Journalism Initative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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