THE GRAND OAK that towers over the Sculpture Garden on Grand Avenue South, Galt sent down its roots 134 years ago, that’s just 22 years after Galt had become a town and elected its first Mayor.  If only the OAK could speak.  It would tell how it has survived the ravages of frequent spring floods. Its major challenge came in 1976 when a five foot grade change was made to the dyke system along the Grand River to protect Galt from flooding again.

To accommodate the new raised grade changes for the dyke, eight workers’ cottages on Grand Avenue S. were demolished.  To protect the tree, city forester John Kingswood built a 5’ high well around the tree trunk above ground level.  Drainage pipes were laid on the ground, boulders and gravel placed over the drainage pipes and then five feet of fill was brought in to raise the surrounding  land along the river and Grand Avenue S.  The tree has survived ever since and is still growing!  The OAK tree has a removable platform so the trunk of the tree can be inspected for any degradation and a watering/fertilizing schedule can be initiated if the city arborist feels it necessary.  Last year the forestry department root-fertilized the tree with hundreds of long thin holes filled with oak mulch. And they rebuilt the platform around the tree. 

Documentation about the history of the tree, including the social and historical history, was sent to the Ontario Urban Forest Council and Ontario Heritage Tree Alliance.  City Green, Cambridge Environmental Advisory Committee, Cambridge Heritage Advisory Committee, Cambridge Services Department, The Grand River Conservation Authority (the tree is on their land), and the City of Cambridge Council approved THE GRAND OAK for Heritage approval.

In October 2008 THE GRAND OAK was declared the first heritage tree in Cambridge. It is now one of only eleven trees designated ‘Heritage’ in Ontario. Future investigating of the health of the tree root system will be initiated when money becomes available to the CSG. ‘Ages Foundation Fund’ of the  Cambridge & North Dumfries Community Foundation supported the vertical root fertilizing of THE GRAND OAK. The root fertilization was completed in the fall of 2009.