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Londoners say goodbye to one of the ‘Forest City’s’ oldest trees

lambeth tree
The oak tree on James Street in Lambeth just off of Colonel Talbot Road is estimated to be several hundred years old and is set to be cut down due to decay. June 26, 2020. Sawyer Bogdan/Global News

London, Ont., known as the Forest City, will soon be saying goodby to one of the cities oldest trees.

Anna Hopkins, City Councillor for Ward 9 says the oak tree on James Street in the Lambeth neighbourhood just off of Colonel Talbot Road is estimated to be between 300 to 400 years old.

She says despite several attempts to save the tree, it is 90 per cent dead — the inside and roots have started to decay.

Read more: ‘A challenging time to be a tree right now’: City of Winnipeg forester

“Its part of the history that Lambeth is so rich in,” Hopkins said.

“Lambeth, back in the 1800s, was the county fair and this tree stood in the middle of the country fair, and all of the race tracks went around it.”

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While the tree is treasured, its condition is a growing safety hazard, being very close to a house and hanging over the street.

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While they couldn’t save the tree, Hopkins says the city will take steps to save a colony of bees living inside it. She says over the next few weeks, they will begin efforts to transfer the bees into a box and relocate them safely.

There is a colony of bees living inside the hundreds of years old tree that will need to be recoated before it is cut down. June 26, 2020.
There is a colony of bees living inside the hundreds of years old tree that will need to be recoated before it is cut down. June 26, 2020. Sawyer Bogdan/Global News

She says the city will also be looking at ways to commemorate the tree and possibly salvaging some of the wood. Residents are being encouraged to reach out to the city and share what they think should be done.

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Since news of the tree’s demise was first reported, several people have been stopping by to visit one last time.

On Friday, Brian Highley brought his two daughters to the tree as a mini history lesson to celebrate the last day of school.

“It is a shame; we will have to look around town for other ways to get in touch with the City’s history,” he said.

His daughter Veronica who just finished Grade 4 says it’s sad to see something so beautiful go.

Read more: North Okanagan regional district investigating illegally felled trees on area trails

Another London resident, Pat Wieler, said it was important for her to pay a visit to the historic tree.

“I grew up near trees, and they have always been my friend, so I had to pay respect to it.”