With a population of 2.6 million, Toronto is the largest city in Canada, and the provincial capital of Ontario. The greater Toronto area has over six million people and is the fifth largest city area in all of North America. Over half of Toronto’s populations are immigrants, moving to the area because of the economic advantages the city provides. While big and booming now, Toronto had a humble origin. Toronto was originally inhabited by native Iroquois as far back as c. 1500. The name “Toronto” actually stems from their word for this region. By the mid 1700’s the Huron tribe had displaced most of the Iroquois and laid claim the region. French traders would establish an outpost and popularize the region. When the war of 1812 started, British troops would find a welcome base to build up attack strength just outside of America in Toronto. History shows us that the Americans won that war and plundered the city, but Toronto was resilient. The rich area provided a rewarding rebound for Irish immigrants in the mid 1800’s. As a result, Irish Catholicism would shape the developing city. The growing waterway import and export system allowed the city to access grains and sugars and soon Toronto would become a leading producer of alcohol giving birth to an entire distillery district in the heart of the city.
After World War Two, many war abused peoples migrated to Toronto from Europe. This influx form the east helped keep the multicultural atmosphere promising hope and employment for those who would claim Toronto as their new home. One such job was landscaping. With the city blossoming up and the recent need for suburbs areas needed to be cleared of native vegetation. Harvesting programs would strip the logs for lumber while smaller landscapers would fine tune a lot for contractors and future development. One such job for the professional arborist is stump removal.
Stump removal Toronto style utilizes four methods. The first and easiest method involves using heavy excavation equipment. By using a backhoe (digging machine consisting of a hinged scoop mechanical arm attached to a tracked cab) one can dig and rip away the earth around the stump until it can be easily lifted from the soil. Sometimes it is best to lift the stump when the soil is soft, moist or wet after a substantial rain. The stump can then be easily disposed of in a landfill or placed purposefully and left to decompose. This method may not be practical for only a few tree stumps and the heavy equipment can be quite expensive and even overwhelming for some to rent. Professionals may not want to dig where the potential to damage underground wires and pipes may exist. Additionally, close housing may not provide enough space to utilize the larger diggers. A second method was very popular in the early days Of Toronto’s history. After trimming the stump to a small size, kindling wood would be placed around the stump. A series of 12-inch deep holes were drilled around the parameter of the stump and filled with oil. After the stump absorbs the oil the oil holes would be ignited and the stump would be left to burn away. However, with the growth of the city after the destructive Great Toronto Fire of 1904, the empowered fire departments are not quick to grant permits to burn things especially in the old “downtown” areas. Stumps outside the urban areas stand a better chance of being removed. The third method of stump removal is by far the most economical and safe as homeowners with no special equipment can do it easily needed. After the stump is exposed a series of 12-inch holes should be drilled into the stump. These holes are filled with a chemical powder that accelerates the natural decomposition of wood. This powder is potassium nitrate. And it will take about four weeks to rot the stump to the point where it may be easily broken up with an axe and disposed. If a speedier solution is needed the best option is using a stump grinder. Stump grinders are motorized wheels with jagged teeth that rip the stump into wood chips the way cheese grate shreds cheese. The stump should be cut to the very smallest size possible by chain saw. Contract stump grinders are big and aggressive, while the ones local hardware stores rent can easily be carried in the back of a pickup truck and look like a snow blower or garden tiller. Using the stump grinder, however, doesn’t really remove the stump; it grinds the stump to ground level.
If removal methods will not work in Toronto, another way of dealing with a stump is by re-purposing it. With a little bit of creativity a stump can become a stunning piece of modern outdoor art and furniture. Stumps have been used as planters, birdbaths, tables, and niches. All of these methods have made Toronto the beautifully landscaped city that exists today.