Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Degrees of Separation and a Golden Spruce

The Golden Spruce.  Kiidk'yaas,by name, because it was an unique character and deserved a name of its own.  A Sitka Spruce tree, Picea sitchensis 'Aurea', it  grew on the banks of the Yakoun River in Haida Gwaii archipelago, British columbia. It had a rare genetic mutation causing its needles to be golden in colour. The mutation causes the chlorophyll to break down when exposed to much sunlight. The 250 days of cloud cover a year that typify the rainforest region of the Queen Charlottes was just what was needed to allow this tree to grow.  The only one of its kind, it was considered sacred by the Haida Gwaii nation -- in their myths it is often portrayed as a human transformed into a tree, a tree that will stand as long as the Haida Nation survives.  Sitka spruce in general are sort of willy-nilly messy, ragged. But this Golden Spruce was very tidy, very contained, with a peculiarly perfect conical shape.  Its needles were all about two-thirds the normal length. The tree's needles grew more densely.  It was 165 feet and 300 years old.

On 22 January 1997, a 48-year-old unemployed forest engineer named Grant Hadwin swam the river at night and felled the tree as a political statement against industrial logging companies. Personally, I'm not sure what the statement would be -- except one that spoke eloquently of the loss of beauty, of something rare and precious.  Later arrested, Hadwin disappeared on his way to trial. John Vaillant has written a book about this tree, and the logger turned environmentalist turned something else who, in 1997, cut it down.  It is a book you should read.  Can the damage our civilization exacts on the natural world be justified?

When the tree was felled, some cuttings were taken, so there are now Golden Spruce scattered here and there. None of them, to date, are 165 feet and 300 years old... none of them can propogate on their own...  Only time will tell if this tree will remain.

So it is with some excitement that I went to meet a relative of the Golden Spruce that lives in the Township of Lake of Bays.  Given as a retirement gift to Peter Kourtz, it was cloned from two Sitka spruce trees at the Petawawa National Forest Research Centre, and is called a Petawawa Sunburst tree. (and is more tolerant of sunlight, it would seem -- since Muskoka gets far far fewer than 250 days of cloud cover.
In the spring, the needles are a vivid yellow -- Joanne tells me they have paled a little from last week. They are still extraordinary, and one is simply drawn to the tree.

Unusual as it is, this is not the only tree of note on the Koutz' property.  Growing beside it is the best-travelled tree on the planet.  A maple tree that has orbited the Earth.  The seeds went into space with Roberta Bondar.  13 were later germinated at the Petawawa National Forest Research Centre, and Roberta was given three. She gave one to Peter, again as a retirement gift.

Visitors are welcomed to Peter and Joanne's property on Paint Lake Road -- Peter makes and sells amazing lawn and garden ornaments and wind machines as well.  Their garden is enchanting as a result.

He creates huge flowers out of glass -- now those are ones the deer will NOT eat!

At the end of the lane, Joanne maintains the Paint Lake Little Library --a box full of books. Please, she says, take some...  Her aim is to have three of these little libraries by summer: one at the Paint Lake covered bridge, and one in town by the docks joining the one at their property.  What a good idea that is!

Lake of Bays (and of course this lovely part of it, Paint Lake) is home to some tremendously interesting and creative folk!

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