Last man standing
If you've visited Carleton University in the last month then you've probably noticed the devastation north-west of University Road at Campus Avenue. As this aerial photo shows, the site used to have a number of very large and iconic mature trees. All but one have fallen to the University's latest growth: a river building – ironically designed to connect the university to the beauty of its natural setting. The tree pictured above, the last one standing, is the one between the building and the footpath in the lower right of the aerial photo.

I decided to make a photograph here to express my sadness at the loss of those incredible trees and to contrast the beauty of the old site with its current destruction. To me, the tree's strong foundation suggests a fight for continued existence. (The decision to tape it seems like a grudging acknowledgement of this, as if to say "this determined tree can stay.") While its tenacity speaks volumes about how hard it should have been for men to remove the other trees, the machinery in the background suggests it was no big deal to those involved. (The closest one is actually branded 'Wacker.')

To me, the tape brings warnings beyond its intended purpose. To the tree: "Caution, you may be next." To us all: "Caution, this is all that is left." Nothing lives in the land of crushed stone beyond the fence. Behind me, on the other side of a small parking lot, are a couple more trees and a small grassy lot; unable to read the warning tape, 3 ducks, 3 squirrels and a woodchuck were foraging there.

Posted: 2009-09-27.   Shot: .
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1/50 sec   f/3.5   29 mm   ISO 400