Description of Historic Place
The Copper Beech Tree, planted in Drummond Hill Cemetery in 1914 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Lundy's Lane, consists of one mature beech tree which serves as a reminder of the city's abundant history with the War of 1812. With its beautiful bark of elephant hide appearance and leaves that change seasonally from light green to russet and bronze, the tree is a prominent landmark on Drummond Hill, highlighting its historic importance.
The tree was designated for its heritage value by the City of Niagara Falls in 2003 under by-law 2003-136.
The tree's historical value lies in its connection to the War of 1812, through its commemoration of the Battle of Lundy's Lane (July 25, 1814). Planted in 1914 to recognize the 100th anniversary of the event, the Copper Beech Tree continues to be admired by the public and marks the site of what was considered to be the bloodiest and most fiercely fought battle in the War of 1812. On the afternoon of 25th July, 1814, Lieutenant-General Gordon Drummond, with about 2800 men, engaged the invading American army which had recently been victorious at Chippawa. The six-hour battle lasted until darkness and heavy losses put an end to the fighting, each force having lost over 800 men. Although each claimed victory, the Americans had failed to dislodge Drummond from his position and withdrew the next day, ending their offensive in Upper Canada. The tree marks the general site in which this battle took place, and its dominant form makes it easily visible to those that pass by the area. The planting of the tree in recognition of the battle was a significant historical event for the community, and the tree has continued to grow along with the development of Niagara Falls. The tree's visible maturity is a reflection of the city's interesting history.
The tree's contextual value lies in its greater setting in the Drummond Hill Cemetery as well as the area along Lundy's Lane, which connects it to a number of historic sites that are related to the War of 1812. The Drummond Hill Cemetery displays a number of interesting features that are consistent with the commemorative value of the Copper Beech Tree, including a monument to Laura Secord, who played a crucial role in alerting the British and Canadian troops of an oncoming American attack in 1813. Laura Secord is also buried at this cemetery. The cemetery also features the Soldier's Monument and Commemorative Wall, which contributes to the memorializing character of the Copper Beech Tree site.
The tree is rich in aesthetic value, with many fine ornamental characteristics. The bark is a smooth, gray colour that develops a beautiful elephant hide appearance. Equally significant are the leaves that initially unfurl in the spring in a soft, light green colour that gradually changes to a rich, russet colour in the summer and ultimately to a tawny bronze colour in the fall. Its form is also valued for its magnificence, as the tree is well rounded and branches closely to the ground.
The Copper Beech tree has strong cultural values for the city of Niagara Falls as a memorial of soldiers killed in the Battle of Lundy's Lane. It also serves as a reminder of the soldiers that contributed to the freedom that has been experienced by Niagara Falls residents for many years. The longevity of the tree is valued spiritually, and ensures that the lives and events associated with the battle will not be forgotten.
Sources: “Historical plaques: The Battle of Lundy's Lane”, Niagara Heritage Portal, 2007; “Drummond Hill Cemetery, Lundy's Lane Battlefield Park, European Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica atropunicea): Landscape Architecture/Arboriculture Recommendations”, John A. Morley and Associates, 2002.
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the Copper Beech Tree include its:
- orientation in Drummond Hill Cemetery, enhancing the tree's visibility and marking the location of a significant battle
- bark of elephant hide appearance
- rounded form which branches closely to the ground
- spring leaves unfurling as soft green
- changing colours of rich, russet colour in the summer and ultimately to a tawny bronze colour in the fall
- its species (Fagus sylvatica), which is not commonly found in the Niagara Peninsula or elsewhere in southern Ontario
- longevity of this tree on this particular site