Trees say a lot about a community

In my youth, I was a paper carrier. My route extended from Central Avenue to the Memorial Arena and included all the avenues between First and Second Street.
Tall American elm trees grew up from the edge of properties and the arching branches from one side of the street met the arching branches from the opposite side.
The canopy of the branches shaded and cooled the sidewalks from the summer sun. I could almost do my entire paper route in the rain with hardly getting wet as the umbrella of trees protected me.
Shortly after I began work as a reporter, in late September, I was driving east and the golden cathedral of leaves over First Street made me think I should take a picture for its beauty.
I didn’t take that picture. I imagined that there would be amply opportunities in my lifetime to capture the golden elms that the founders of Fort Frances had planted.
I was wrong.
By the summer of the next year, many of those same trees lost their leaves by mid-August and they were removed from yards and boulevards.
Over time almost all the elms in Fort Frances residential area disappeared.
For some strange reason, a single elm continued to grow and flourish in the 300 block of Second Street. It had the strength and ability to fight the Dutch elm disease.
On the west edge of town and into Alberton, the elms planted in memory of the soldiers, airmen and seamen who left from the district to fight in the Second World War also seemed to be able to adapt despite constant disturbances from highway and road repairs.
Unfortunately, that lone tree on Second Street has died this year, the last of the thousands that were planted in the Fort. Many of the trees planted along Highway 11 leaving Fort Frances also are dying this year and will have to be removed.
Along the boulevard in front of the Copper River Inn, when the large elms were lost, the parks board planted Chinese elms to replace the lost American elm trees. They too perished and were replaced with another species.
In 1977, the Fort Frances Jaycees, alarmed with the loss of greenery on the boulevards of Fort Frances offered up a selection of ash, maple and basswood saplings to the community to plant in front yards and along boulevards.
The Town of Fort Frances gave blanket approval to plant those young trees on the boulevards to all residents. Most have survived.
The trees planted in 1977 and 1978 now tall, have never replaced the canopy of foliage and grandeur that the original elms had provided.
Trees say a lot about a community. The loss of the elms in Fort Frances is a permanent loss.
We now know that ash trees are also susceptible to the Emerald Ash Borer a species that is not native to North America.
As a district, we must be vigilant to protect our urban and natural ash forests from the same ravages that killed off the our elm trees.

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