He was a mighty giant who grew stronger every year.
For 340 years, the oak stood about 100 yards from the banks of the Thames.
It was part of the vast forest visited by the nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
By the time John Graves Simcoe fell on the Forks of the Thames in 1793, she was already 115 years old.
At the end of last year, the tree – a bur oak or a white oak – had to be felled. It had dropped branches for a while and about a quarter of its trunk had rotted. Either it would fall naturally and cause damage, or it would be taken apart and turned into something useful.
Chris McKaskell is the carpenter and craftsman overseeing the tree grinding this week. He also counted the 340 rings that show the age of the tree.
“With everything that is done with this tree, there will be a wonderful story.”
McKaskell and his team will cut the three large logs – they are 120cm in diameter – into flat pieces that will take three years to air dry.
Eventually, it will be used to make art as well as custom furniture or other wood creations that will be incorporated into the buildings of Western University.
Some smaller rooms have already been used in the renovation of the University College, which is expected to be completed this summer.
âAs we renovate buildings, especially our main historic buildings, we try to incorporate furniture into those buildings,â said Mike Lunau, director of landscape services at the university.
The tree, although a significant part of the campus, has lived without much fanfare.
The university was unable to find clear images of the tree. It appears in several Google Street View snapshots, but it’s a bit hidden in the background.
McKaskell said it was an honor to work with such a historic tree.
âThis predates anything we see here,â he said. “It would have been a very mature oak tree and he would have lived a wonderful life. The story is all here.”