Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Breakfast on Monday with Neale and Kathy and Amy and Christopher was at Cora’s Restaurant in London. I have never seen a menu with as many selections of fruit filled dishes together with crepes and meats. Delicious and enjoyable.  From there we toured Neale’s and Kathy’s Needlecraft store called Thread & Eye which they have operated for twelve years.  As we proceeded to Amy & Chris’ home we noticed I had a front passenger side tire issue in the rental vehicle – a nail causing a slow air leak.  Finding an Avis outlet we learned that the company would give us a car exchange and we would be charged for the tire repair or even a new tire which might range from $45-$250 depending on how it was reported. We decided instead to take it to a local repair shop and they did the fix in 5 minutes for $15.

Christine and I were pleased to drive along Queens Ave to see the facility that once was the main building of the Bible College in which we were enrolled in undergraduate years.  The Ladies dorm and the Men’s’ dorm were on adjacent corners. It was quite nostalgic. This was where I met Christine when we were in our early twenties and I loved her almost from first sight. We would become engaged and married before she and I graduated.

Mature Empress Tree
On Monday afternoon we drove to Kathy’s family farm, the Smale farm where her brother Bob works. There Christine and I were introduced to the values and potential of a plantation of a tree specie which could become a cash crop in a relatively short time. The tree is called THE EMPRESS TREE. Websites are easily found which speak about the Royal Empress or Royal Paulownia, otherwise Paulownia Tomentosa. The specimens we saw are distinguished from the Tomentosa as a safer, purer, non-invasive variety. This tree is a deciduous tree that can grow as much as ten feet per year, making it the world's fastest growing hardwood tree. It can be two feet in diameter. It can be full grown in seven years, logged and from the same root will grow another tree, and it can continue to reproduce like this several times.

Paulownia tomentosa is a showy, Chinese ornamental that has been naturalized throughout much of the Eastern U.S. and is grown as far north as Montreal. With its enormous heart-shapped leaves it produces dense shade and will tolerate almost any soil. It's height is usually about 40' at maturity. It was introduced from East Asia in the early 1800s and planted widely as an ornamental specimen tree and has been grown in scattered plantations for speculative big-value wood exports to Japan. That is what the Smales are believing as they plant hundreds of these trees in this year and perhaps thousands over the next few years. The Smales' website is known as Empress Trees for Canada. The wood is very light, yet hard, and nicely grained and without knots, and features so many other qualities that provide an optimistic possibility it can be harvested commercially and effectively is a short period of time. It will be interesting to watch this development.

1 comment:

  1. I understand your feelings on being back at the old LCBM campus. For some years, I served on the board of a mission based in London, and always enjoyed the opportunity to revisit places with many good memories, around 518 Queens.

    On one occasion, I stayed in a hotel on Dundas St. that I discovered, to my surprise, was right next to a small garden/ fountain which Gail and I had walked to occasionally on weekend evenings. Terrific feeling of nostalgia comes over one in places like that.