History of the Butternut Tree

For nearly 90 years, a butternut tree stood on the site of our new office. The exact location is where our lobby is now located.  The tree grew on the front lawn of the property that belonged to the Matthies family at 76 Woodstock Street South for almost 90 years. South Easthope Mutual purchased the lot in 1998 with plans for future expansion. The house was demolished in 1999.

The old Matthies property at 76 Woodstock St. S. The home was demolished in 1999.

As a young boy, Gordon Matthies planted the tree on his family’s property (circa 1927).

This 2002 photo shows Gordon Matthies standing beside the tree he planted on his family’s property at this location (circa 1927) when he was a boy.

When it came time for construction of our new office, we knew that the big old butternut would need to come down. We had learned that butternuts are an endangered tree species here in Ontario and are protected. This required a call to the Ministry of Natural Resources to come and assess the tree. In 2014, they determined that it was actually a hybrid variety and could lawfully be removed to permit construction of our office.

In January 2015, Lange Bros. Tree Service of Tavistock carefully took the tree down. Knowing the history and nostalgia of this tree, we wanted to preserve its memory and planned to incorporate its wood into our new office. This lead to the fireplace mantel in the lobby and a coffee table made from a cross-section of the butternut. The coffee table sits where the tree once grew. The west-facing wall in our show-room also features paneling made from the tree. After the butternut was taken down, the wood was dried, milled and installed by Muma Fine Woodworking of Amulree.

Kenneth Roth of Tavistock also made two lovely bowls from the butternut that can be found in our lobby. One holds a supply of chocolates for members to enjoy!

We hope you are able to stop by our office and see the wonderful pieces that honour the butternut tree.

The wood from the butternut tree was used to make the fireplace mantle and coffee table in our Tavistock office lobby.


Wood from the butternut tree was milled down and used to make the west-facing wall in our showroom.


Leave Comment