The trees of tornado-ravaged Arlington Woods are getting a new life

Felled by 2018 tornado, towering white pines will be used for community projects

Sandra Abma · CBC News

Winds approaching 265 km/h tore many of the community’s towering white pines from the ground, snapping them in two and sending them crashing into homes.

Downed trees litter Ottawa’s Arlington Woods neighbourhood on Sun., Sept. 23, 2018, two days after a tornado hit the area. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

‘Turned into a lumber mill’

Sean Devine, president of the Trend-Arlington Community Assocation, said residents were still in shock when they began the monumental job of cleaning up.

Then, the arrival of logging trucks added to the trauma.

“Our community was turned into a lumber mill,” said Devine. “You saw trucks putting these 100-foot-long logs on flat beds and taking them away.”

Devine still isn’t sure where that first wave of fallen trees ended up. The community acted quickly to save what was left, in the hopes of using the wood for future projects that would benefit the area.  

CBC News OttawaArlington Woods trees destroyed in tornado to be used in memorial WATCH00:00 01:49Sean Devine and Rob Onley, president and vice-president of the Trend-Arlington Community Assocation, say a memorial will serve as a reminder of how the community came together to recover after the storm. 1:49

Concerns about rot

The community association then reached out to the City of Ottawa, and the forestry department agreed to store the logs in a lot in Ottawa’s west end.

But when Tim Priddle, co-owner of Manotick lumber store and mill The WoodSource, heard about the arrangement, he worried the wood would rot before it was used.

“Wood has to be sawn very quickly.,” said Priddle, “It can’t be left out over the summer, otherwise worms and mold will ruin it.”  

After contacting the community association, Priddle arranged for the logs to be delivered to his lumber yard, where it’s now being milled into construction boards that can be stored until the community decides what to do with them.

The costs are covered by the city and the community association.

CBC News OttawaHow the fallen trees from Arlington Woods are transformed WATCH00:00 00:58Tim Priddle, co-owner of the WoodSource, explains how the trees that used to stand in Arlington Woods are being turned into lumber for a future memorial project. 0:58

Pair of projects

So far, two projects have been earmarked for the harvested trees: improvements to the community centre and a memorial to the tornado and its aftermath. 

Designs are yet to be drawn up, but the association hopes the memorial will serve as both a tangible memento of a cherished forest and an acknowledgment of the community spirit that grew out of the traumatic event.

“I think that it’s it’s critical that not only the memory of the event of the tornado itself [is preserved], but the memory of of the community coming together,” said community asociation member Robert Onley.

“[It can be] a reminder to future generations of what a real community does for each other.”

Sean Devine, president of the Trend-Arlington Community Association, said the neighbourhood wants to build a ‘tangible, symbolic representation of what we lost’ in the 2018 tornado. (Sandra Abma/CBC)

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