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Tall Trees: A forest community in the city (4 photos)

For this week's edition of Remember This, Mary Harris looks at her own back yard

The first time I entered this neighbourhood, I got lost. That was over 35 years ago. My friends, and even some regularly visiting family members, still get confused by the courts, crescents and circles with the woodsy names, so not much has changed!

I make my home in the 1970s era subdivision known as Tall Trees. Living in this green oasis, within sight of the Georgian Mall, feels almost like residing in a quiet cottage community. In reality, we are rubbing shoulders with bustling Bayfield Street metres to the west of us, but it never seems that way in our little forested world.

New visitors are often quite amazed to find this aptly named neighbourhood tucked into a square of land bordered by big box stores, busy arterial roads, and a general ocean of concrete. Someone had a novel idea. Instead of taking down all of the trees, and scraping the land flat, to build houses, why not remove just enough trees to fit in homes and streets?

That is one of the wonders of Tall Trees. The first owners of these new homes literally had bush lots. No need to plant skinny saplings and wait a decade for a decent tree to grow. The dilemma must have been which trees to cut and which ones to leave?
We moved into a four-bedroom house much later than any of our neighbours. We are new kids on the block, only having been here 16 years now. With our home, we inherited a huge Norway maple that shades our entire front yard, and two 100-foot ash trees that have sadly been lost to the cruelty of the emerald ash borer.

The other little marvel is the soil. No giant earth scrapers removed the pure forest soil, so centuries of rich leaf humus remain and create the base for the most wonderful gardens. Some of my flowers have been known to be too successful – shooting extraordinarily tall or becoming quite invasive!

Tall Trees was thick deciduous forest up until the late 1950s and, with its great collection of mature maples, made for an excellent sugar bush. The first new development in the location was Cundles Heights Public School, which replaced the old-style school house on the southeast corner of Bayfield Street and Cundles Road East, now home to the CIBC Bank.

In the late 1960s, a developer known as Revenue Properties began laying out the present subdivision. They contracted Northwind Homes to build the homes.

Each week, the Barrie Historical Archive provides BarrieToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past. This unique column features photos and stories from years gone by and is sure to appeal to the historian in each of us.


Mary Harris

About the Author: Mary Harris

Mary Harris is the Director of History and Research at the Barrie Historical Archive. The Barrie Historical Archive is a free, online archive that centralizes Barrie's historical content.
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