The Portage Citizen
Recently the Portage Heritage Committee received a final report on the ‘natural heritage’ of the city. The report is a pictorial record containing some 1,000 hi-res images of the street canopy covering various neighbourhoods. With a grant from Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage, the project started in a similar fashion to other heritage research projects where specific locations would be chosen. In this case, specific trees, and some history would be provided such as who planted, or how old or other notable information. It became clear in the research that there was not enough information to continue in this direction.
Project manager William Plenty explains… “We started researching with a goal of doing ‘heritage trees’, much like buildings. It became clear after a short while that there was not sufficient information to compose a thorough inventory. So, we turned to the Vopni Archive at PCI which contains over 30,000 images of the town dating back to the early 50’s. We were looking for streetscapes and urban forest images. Here too, there was very little in the way of that type of pictorial documentation. Many long-time residents may remember when the city was covered in Elm trees, that were largely devastated by the Elm Bark Beetle. It was surprising there was so little archived images of that time highlighting the urban forest. It was at that point it became clear what needed to be recorded. With the imminent arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer, which has had very destructive effects on urban ash trees across North America, it seemed that now was the moment to document the city under its current urban forest canopy before it was lost. We didn’t want to lose that record as we did with the Elm canopy.”
Heritage Committee Chair James Kostuchuk notes that the size of this new image archive will help to preserve the record of our natural heritage. “This was the first time as a committee we’ve looked into trees and our urban forest as points of historical interest. Traditionally we’ve dealt with bricks and mortar history. Who knows though, maybe with the way things are going we won’t have much of an urban forest in the near future, and now we have a record.”
The image archive will be part of Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage and the archive at PCI .
Here’s a look at some of the images from the archive and a few links to urban forestry issues including the Emerald Ash Borer.