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Douglas Firs by Stephen Chatman

I decided to enter the RCM Share the Celebration Countdown competition. I was thinking of doing the grade 5 piece, "Sunset in Rio" by Mike Springer but I am entering the grade 6 piece instead. It is called "Douglas Firs" by Stephen Chatman.

Here is my video entry:

At first I didn't want to play "Douglas Firs" but Mom said I should go out and look for Douglas Firs so I could understand the piece better. 

I wanted to find a living tree but it was harder than I thought. There aren't very many in Toronto.
We found out from that there was one at Trinity-Bellwoods Park.

The map showed us where we were supposed to look but there were a lot of trees there. So, we looked for the Douglas-fir cones on the ground. 

Then we looked to see if we could spot any of the Douglas-fir cones still on the tree.

I was so happy when we found it!
Its trunk is very narrow, so I think it must be young. 

But it's still so tall!

I could reach some of the pines though.

I did a bark rubbing so I can remember the texture of the bark.
(Can you spot the CN Tower in the background?)

I also learnt that Douglas-fir trees can grow to over 200 feet tall in their native habitat and they have entire forests in British Columbia.

But, I now know a Douglas-fir tree right here.


At the Royal Ontario Museum we saw a cross section of a 500 year old Douglas-fir tree that was cut down in the 1890s. It was 2.3m in diameter! That's 7 1/2 feet!

The rings on the tree show how old it is. And we could see that the tree was around from before the invention of the printing press in 1450 until after Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859.
I can't even imagine how tall this tree was!


We also went to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see how they used the wood from the Douglas-firs in the structure of the building. We've been there so many times and we never even thought about it before. The beams and the staircases are made up of Douglas-fir, and the floor is made of Oak.

This is the view from Walker Court. You can see the staircase that can take you all the way up to the 5th floor.

This is where the Art Gallery meets up with The Grange.

We took the elevator up to the 5th floor and walked all the way down.

Mom took lots of pictures...
I loved the lines and the curves.

Sometimes she stretched her hand out so she could get a picture looking down.

And sometimes she took a picture looking up.

And down.

And up.

And down.

Here is a view of Walker Court from the staircase.

And here you can see the support beams for the roof.
It's really amazing what they can do with the wood from the Douglas-fir.
It must be very strong and hard.

I started working on this song on Boxing Day and now I really like it. I know that it's not 'perfect,' but I only really worked on it for 10 days. Even if I don't win I'm happy that I learnt all about Douglas Firs.  I didn't 'just' play the song, I learnt a lot and had fun too!


  1. Josh,
    That is the way to go. You had fun learning about the tree, then mastered the song.
    Hope you will win.

  2. Terrific post! Loved reading about your experience with Douglas Firs, and the music you played is beautiful :)

  3. Thank you for sharing your adventure about the Douglas Firs. Congratulations as well on being selected as a finalist for your performance. Best of luck.