In the city's south end (east of Erie Street and between West Gore Street and Lorne Avenue) there are at least 10 streets named for native Canadian trees. One of them, Elm Street, was probably named by Alexander Grant for the White Elm. It was Alexander Grant who laid out a survey there in 1873.
Dutch elm disease, long the enemy of the elm tree, is a fungus carried by a beetle. It grows in the new ring of wood, just inside the bark, on which the tree relies almost totally for its flow of sap. When it blocks the sap vessels, the branch dies and very soon the tree. Trees as old as 200 years can be killed by the disease in one season. Once a much-admired part of the Stratford landscape, the ravages of the Dutch elm disease have almost eliminated the stately elm in this area.
The graceful vase shape of the tall elm, as it swept up into a crowning fan which often wept at its edges, was once a familiar silhouette along Perth County roads and fencelines. Majestic elms often stood alone in the middle of farm fields, left standing for their elegant form and beauty. Now they are almost all gone.
One such tree was famous in the pioneer days of Perth County. The great tree stood about two miles north of Avonton. Folks coming to visit from a distance knew they were nearing the end of a long day's buggy ride when they saw the aged landmark in the distance. Fully seven feet in diameter, that great tree was blown down in a storm on Nov. 29, 1919. With notes from Stanford Dingman