Are they the oldest trees in Tillsonburg?
Two massive maples, located on the western shore of Lake Lisgar next to the Water Park, were likely mature trees when the lake was created in 1852, known as Hardy's Mill Pond until it was renamed in the 1870s.
Exactly how old are they?
"150 years or more," said Joan Weston, who lives on the other side of Lake Lisgar and has a collection of historical photographs of the lake.
"I've heard a range," said Rick Cox, Director of Recreation, Culture and Parks in Tillsonburg. "We don't know for sure but we're guessing closer to 200 than 150, and maybe even greater than 200. So definitely older than Canada and older than the town, but we're not sure exactly. Certainly one of the oldest on our public lands... and they are both similar age."
Both trees are 'on the clock.'
A large limb came down from the larger of the two trees last month, prompting the town to examine the removal of the two trees due to their proximity to Lake Lisgar Water Park and a frequently-used trail.
"We're responding to that branch coming down, and the tree needs to be removed," said Cox, noting it happened in July. "It was not really a 'planned' removal. The timeline was extended because we're dealing with a bit of a sophisticated removal, and we wanted to take the time to see if it was possible to preserve some of the significant historical opportunities. So it took longer than it would have otherwise."
The trees are scheduled for removal August 29-30th by Clean-up Tree and Stump Removal from Norfolk County. Lake Lisgar Water Park will be closed both days for safety reasons.
Depending on the health of the heartwood, a cross-section from the trunk may be preserved for a Canada 150 project at Annandale National Historic Site.
"We're not sure," said Cox. "They may be donuts - because of rot - and it will not be possible to do what we hope to do. But if there is some level of trunk integrity, that we can use it, we're going to try to make it happen. I'm hopeful but chances are slim, we don't know. I'd say at best we're at 50-50.
"The other thing we're doing, in terms of taking them down gently, is to keep some of the bigger lengths of lumber intact, and allow the wood to be dried. We're going to commission some souvenir-type things in conjunction, not only with the new branding of Tillsonburg but also Canada's 150th."