The man who planted a billion trees

A bicycle ride to honour the Father of Reforestation in Ontario: Dr. Edmund J. Zavitz.

E.C. Drury on the Angus Plains amongst burnt area. Photo taken by E.J. Zavitz in 1906.

Dr. Bacher commemorates Dr. Zavitz’s 160 kilometre cycling ride from the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) in Guelph to meet E.C. Drury at his farm in Crown Hill, just north of Barrie.

E.C. Drury beside horse and buggy on Orr Lake wasteland. Photo taken by E.J. Zavitz in 1907.

Quote (Zavitz and Drury):

After this trip the remarkable duo worked quite closely together for the next three years, and they became lifelong friends until their deaths in 1968. Together they compiled much of the research that led to Zavitz’s 1908 wastelands report that outlined their basic strategy for reforesting Ontario’s devastated forestlands. They studied the forest wastelands of Simcoe County in a horse and buggy, although sometimes Zavitz would bravely set out on this harsh landscape alone on a bicycle. On these trips Zavitz would stay for several days at the Drury Crown Hill farm, which E.C. Drury had recently inherited from his father, Charles Drury.

What a friendship can help create.

The lessons of our commemorative re-enactment of Edmund Zavitz’s ride are both cautionary and inspiring. Many of the dangers he and his generation faced, such as horrific fires setting off explosions of methane are similar to contemporary warnings about global warming. Under Zavitz’s leadership and Drury’s political power a past generation was able to quell the threats of fires, floods and ravaged forests. Our times can be up to the challenge. Edmund Zavitz planted a billion trees – why not, as the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has suggested – plant a billion more?

Commemorative Cycling Trek of Edmund Zavitz’s Ride, John Bacher PhD, Forest History Society of Ontario Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 2, Fall 2011, p. 13-5.


One Response to The man who planted a billion trees

  1. […] Photo taken by E.J. Zavitz in 1906 on the Orr Lake wasteland (approx. 3-4 miles from our church) Image source […]


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