Go to Part Two.
The decline of trees immediately after Pioneers arrived on their new Canada Company lands was precipitous. The following chart was taken from a table in a document mentioned in Part Two: Department of Planning and Development, Government of Ontario. 1953. Speed Valley Conservation Report 1953. A.H. Richardson, Chief Conservation Engineer, A.S.L. Barnes (B.Sc.F.), Assistant Director and Forestry, R.V. Brittain (B.Sc.F.), Forestry. Toronto. It is derived from Census of Canada figures. Out of a total 14877.66 hectares of occupied farmland, woodland cover went from 6540 ha (44%) in 1850 to 727 ha (5%) in 1940.
The early Guelphites were largely not here for the aesthetics, they were hard working farmers and entrepreneurs who did their best to carve a new life for themselves out of the thick bush. It is easy for us to look back on and claim they went too far with the forest razing. I wonder if, in their economic situation and with their understanding about the environment, we could have done any better.
But there is good news. As the Guelph area became more affluent the value we put on trees changed. People wanted trees in their yards and in their parks. The very existence of places like the Guelph Arboretum attest to it. So it is likely that this and initiatives like Trees for Canada including the Rotary Forest near the Guelph Lake and efforts of groups like GUFF and the Plant an Old Growth Forest Project are swinging the pendulum the other way.