How sustainable tree planting was integrated along Roncesvalles

With a distance roughly a kilometer and a half, a dateline spanning close to 150 years, a strong Polish lineage but a Spanish birthright;  Roncesvalles Village, attracts more Arts Cultural Urbanites per capita, than any other Toronto Neighbourhood.

Radiating off every heavily tree canopied street are “redone Four Squares” that are highly sought after by perspective home buyers. Eventually, the Roncesvalles commercial district will become a leading example of how community and urban planning had combined resources and ideas. This collaboration helped create a long term strategy for sustainable tree planting. The street’s trees used to be in concrete coffins which restricted the natural growth of the roots (see  Root and crown structure), and now they are all in continuous soil trenches.

Sustainable urban tree planting is all about:

  • planting native species that easily thrive in the local environment;
  • growing them  in a continuous soil trench which enables root expansion;1
  • enabling the expansion of the overhead canopy, which serves as a climate control regulator by providing deciduous shade in the summer and solar heat in the winter;
  • and finally, during daylight hours, the trees serve as environmental lungs because they consume a multitude of carbon gasses, including carbon dioxide2, which is one of the most acknowledged contributors to climate change.

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A glimpse of our street’s namesake

Sheep grazing on the Pyranees foothills of Roncesvalles in Spain.

Sheep grazing on the Pyrenees foothills of Roncesvalles in Spain. Photo: Ed Lamb

Local history buffs may know that our main street was named by  Col. Walter O’Hara after the Battle of Roncesvalles, which took place in the Roncesvalles gorge in Spain in 1813, in which he led a regiment that fought against the retreating army of Napoleon.

Here we’ve posted a few photos and a bit of history provided by our newest Roncy Sweeps volunteer, Ed Lamb, from his travels through Roncesvalles in Spain.

Ed points out that in the Pyrenees Roncesvalles of today “there is absolutely no village, no neighbourhood(s), only a large old hostal building, including a church.  There are also two small hotels – the staff would live in local villages or in more distant Pamplona. The setting is wonderful in the foothills of the Pyrenees.  (An earlier) …battle in 788 was as a result of Charlemagne’s attempt to push the Moors out of Europe.  He failed miserably.  The pass of Roncesvalles is one of only a few ways of penetrating these mountains.”

Ed has also posted a simple panoramic video of Roncesvalles in Spain on YouTube.

To see historic photos of our street and the area, see Years Gone By: A Photo Essay of Roncesvalles Village.

For more local history, connect with The Roncesvalles Village Historical Society on facebook.