Terry Shwan

Zavitz Pines: The Start of Ontario’s Forestry


As a retired forester, Terry Schwan understands how trees can tall a story. Here he talks about the historic planting of white pines by OAC professor and forester Edmund Zavitz in the early part of the 20th century, and the plaque that marks its place in the Arboretum.
Interview by Rachel Lowenberg, HIST*3560 student, University of Guelph. 

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0:00 My name is Terry Schwan and I’m retired professional forester and I do forest history projects.

0:08 We’re in the arboretum at the plaque dedicated to John Edmund Zavitz

0:14And the Zavitz  pines pine were white pine were planted in here as part of Zavitz first experiments in reforestation.

0:23I n 1905, he came here to join the Ontario Agriculture College and teach forestry.

0:29 He worked out of here and he had his nursery somewhere on the campus.

0:35 He understood the problems in Ontario regarding clearing of land and so-called wastelands, the sand barrens.

0:44 He knew that planting these with trees would bring the forest back ever since I came here in 98.

0:54 I’ve known about it.

0:56 I was here for the opening of this plaque.

0:59 I was Canadian Institute of Forestry rep.

1:03 There’s no date on there must have been 10 years ago.

1:07 Give or take a few more.

1:09 The boss wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

1:12 Andy Gordon, who is the professor here at the time, invited me because he and Doug Larson had done a lot of research on the early days of the school here at the No, the OAC back in the thirties, tour booklets were published.

1:32 Me and a couple of other guys organized a tour quite successful.

1:37 We had 40 people on a school bus and then COVID came along and then this spring in mid June we did another one in the Durham and York region, forests eventually wanted wealth because with all this forest and the dairy bush and brown’s woods.

1:59 Yeah, it’s, it’s pretty cool and it is, I mean, everybody likes, likes to see big trees and so you can put a good history to these trees, you know, when they started, you know, what happened to them.

2:15 And I like going around finding other places that have that history.