UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 9 | Sep.
Chainsaw trim preserves ancient cedar
By Michelle Cook
Nobody remembers exactly how Stumpy got to UBC,
but the massive slice of western red cedar has been a mainstay
of the Biological Sciences building for more than half a century.
Stumpy, so nicknamed by admiring graduate students, is thought
to be one of the last remaining cross-sections of its kind.
It was probably felled in the 1950s in the old-growth rainforests
of coastal British Columbia when it was 775 years old, and
brought to campus to serve as a giant teaching aid. What is
certain is that the magnificent specimen languished somewhat
in recent years in a dusty display case outside the buildings
main lecture hall. It was only when planned renovations to
the space threatened to turn the tree slice into a pile of
firewood that the good folks in the Biological Sciences building
rallied to give Stumpy a new lease on life.
Associate Prof. Gary Bradfield of the botany department spearheaded
the drive to save the cedar -- no easy task when the cause
in question weighed 585 kilograms and measured an unwieldy
two metres in diameter.
After some discussion, the decision was made to thin Stumpy
down. Enter Les Jozsa, one of UBCs celebrated Sopron
foresters and chief carver of the Forestry facultys
anniversary gate. Now retired, Jozsa arrived on campus one
radiant day in early August with a chain saw 1.4 metres long
and sized up the job at hand. With a small crowd of loyal
supporters looking on, volunteers used a sturdy trolley to
wheel Stumpy from the lecture hall into the summer sun.
Steadily wielding the giant chain saw, Jozsa carved the cross-section
into smaller pieces. As the first slice slid free in a gentle
flurry of sawdust, those watching raised a cheer to celebrate
this rare gift from nature. You see, Stumpy, despite having
spent the first 200 years of its life overshadowed by larger
trees nearby, is as close to perfect as a cedar can be. No
rot. No decay. Not even any evidence of pest or fire damage.
A newly svelte Stumpy will make its debut this fall in a
place of honour outside the revamped Biological Sciences
lecture hall where future generations of students and researchers
can benefit from it.