Monday, December 11, 2023

Aurora Community Arboretum, The Creators We Don’t See

The Aurora Community Arboretum has a full task force behind it – a task force of experienced and hard working volunteers that many of us don’t see. “Knock, knock!” I echoed back in my head – “Who is there?” It was someone at my door I didn’t know. I had a brief conversation with a stranger. “My good friend promised me a tree,” he said as the conversation progressed. He was anticipating some fast growing trees, I thought and listened with awe. Definitely the Joint Operation Centre on Industrial Parkway is growing, faster than a Poplar tree, right in the backyard of many residents on Birkshire Drive. These residents back onto the Aurora Community Arboretum and pretty soon they will be facing something that looks nothing like a tree. “Does he even know that his friend can’t just plant a tree anywhere in the Arboretum? Does his friend know?” I thought. The Arboretum is a carefully planned out green space ecosystem – the planning done behind the scenes. My thought is always on Elves.

“The walking paths in the Arboretum didn’t appear just like crop circles.”

St. John’s sideroad was a narrow country road back in 1997, our only way home. The McKenzie Marsh and Atkinson Wetland was nature’s drive thru when driving East or West. I bet some of you will remember the big skating events that took place on the cold winter weekends. And there was this bumpy railroad crossing that encouraged me to behave like a school bus and stop before crossing! The St. Andrew’s Valley Golf Course barn was and still is a landmark in the neighbourhood. A reminder that this was once farming land, now not recognizable. I know very little of the barn. I pass by every day and I wonder how it used to be.

But there was something else I have vague memories of. There was this land on the South side of St. John’s sideroad and East side of Industrial Parkway. Untouched land with a few oak trees spaced throughout, a stream and some wire fencing cutting through. I didn’t pay attention to it for many years and to me it seemed like no one else did either. But there must have been some Elves working hard behind the scenes. Housing started to bloom further East behind the empty land and I shall not compare it to the blooming tulips or any other beautiful flower out there that exists. They are just dwellings that never wilt but they grow life inside, human life.

“Those good sized trees didn’t sprout over night.”

I vaguely remember when a rough path in the Arboretum was established. The one from St. John’s sideroad and Industrial Parkway. Then there was a pergoda donated by Home Depot, something I recall reading in the local paper, The Auroran. Then a more enhanced entrance appeared with the Aurora Community Arboretum sign, followed by a beautiful flower bed and bird boxes too. But where were the Elves? Paths, signs and flower beds don’t just appear like that. I now know a few faces behind the Arboretum. There is David Tomlinson (designer of the Arboretum), Dierdre Tomlinson, Gordon Barnes, Tom Yates, and Nancee Webb that I know of. I know Harry had something to do with Arboretum as well when I found a small tree labelled ‘Birch from harry‘.

Aurora Community Arboretum
Copyright Anna Lozyk Romeo

Hello, is this Harry Lumsden? Can I come and photograph the Trumpeter Swans on your property?” I gently asked. “What? You want to photograph swans? YOU WANT TO COME NOW?” a man with a deep voice invited me just like that. It was Harry. I didn’t expect such an immediate invitation.  In a split second I answered in my beefed up voice and I was there at ten o’clock sharp the next morning. Harry has beautiful swan ponds on the other side of Town that I had the privilege to visit a few years ago.

It took me years to discover that the Aurora Community Arboretum wasn’t just some park for us to walk, run or bike through with head sets on. It is a park for us to enjoy nature, to learn how to respect nature, to enjoy the life it nurtures with the help of many skilled volunteers. The walking paths in the Arboretum didn’t appear just like crop circles. Those good sized trees didn’t sprout over night. And the soon to bloom daffodils field, yet to be discovered by me, surely had a helping hand.

On March 31, 2015 I attended Town Council meeting at Town Hall. A presentation was made on all 2014 Aurora Community Arboretum accomplishments. I thought I would share that in 2014 a total of 913 trees and shrubs were planted and a total of 2660 hours were volunteered. I will continue to discover new paths in the Arboretum. I like the idea of Elves, and crop circles, and perhaps I will eventually find the illusive Bobolink.  But I will be disappointed if I find someone’s friend planting a fast growing tree.

Anna Lozyk Romeo
Aurora, ON


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