Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Grandma Elm removed to protect other trees in park

  • Print

GRANDMA Elm is down.

The old elm tree in Assiniboine Park was cut down Tuesday morning after testing positive for Dutch elm disease.

The big old tree near the Assiniboine River footbridge was a favourite meeting spot for generations of park visitors.

Even the man who wielded the chain saw Tuesday said he felt a range of emotions as the tree crashed to the ground.

"I've been playing in this tree since high school. We used to play Frisbee here in the '70s... for me, I've had a lot of great times in this tree," said Dave Lutes, who works for Tree Wise.

"I'm a Native Indian, indigenous to here. Every time I do something like this, I have to put my mind somewhere else and feel like I'm doing something that has to be done.

"Getting rid of this one really does help a whole vast pile of other trees in the area."

Indeed, chopping it down is a last resort and the right thing to do for the sick old tree and to preserve the health of the younger ones, the Assiniboine Park Conservancy says.

"When possible, we use selective pruning and vaccination to try to prevent infection, but sometimes, when the disease has progressed too far, complete removal of the tree is necessary in order to prevent Dutch elm disease from spreading," Kaaren Pearce, director of grounds for the conservancy, said in a prepared statement.

The park is trying to prevent what happened last fall in Kildonan Park, said Don Peterkin, the Assiniboine Park Conservancy's chief operations officer. Kildonan Park experienced the worst Dutch elm disease attack in recent memory, with 100 elms cut down. "We've been more and more diligent," said Peterkin at Assiniboine Park.

On average, they've removed two or three trees a year over the past five years, he said. This year there were a baker's dozen -- Grandma Elm plus 12 others.

It's not that the disease is getting worse; the park and the city are being more vigilant in identifying sick trees quickly and getting rid of them.

"As soon as we see the first signs of Dutch elm disease, we're asking 'Is that what we're looking at or not?' " said Peterkin.

The first sign is a branch high up in the tree with yellow, wilted leaves that start to defoliate, he said.

Dutch elm disease is caused by a fungus spread by elm bark beetles that burrow under the tree's bark to lay their eggs. If untreated, the fungus can spread quickly, essentially cutting off a tree's circulation system and eventually killing it, the conservancy said.

In an average year, the city losses add up to 5,600 elms.

Those 5,600 amount to 1.5 per cent of the city's annual elm canopy in each of the last 30 years, the City of Winnipeg says.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 23, 2014 B1


Updated on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 7:16 AM CDT: Adds video, replaces photo

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Sneak peek: MTS Centre’s renovations for 2014/15 season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005
  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(Standup photo)- Humming Around- A female ruby -throated hummingbird fly's through the bee bomb  flowers Friday at the Assiniboine Park English Garden- Nectar from flowers are their main source of food. Hummingbirds wings can beat as fast as 75x times second. Better get a glimpse of them soon the birds fly far south for the winter - from Mexico to South America- JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Sept 10, 2009

View More Gallery Photos


How are you planning to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather? (select all that apply)

View Results

Ads by Google