Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 1
September 2008
Discovery In a Tree Trunk

On the evening of August 2, 2006, a small tornado hit Combermere, Ontario, which is about 150 km west of Ottawa. The twister extensively damaged cottages and trailers, some of which were completely destroyed. Hydro poles were snapped like twigs and centuries-old trees were stripped of branches and left in splinters. Environment Canada later rated it an F2 class of tornado, with a path 3 km long and 300m wide. This class of tornado has winds between 180 km and 250 km per hour.

Doug Etmanskie, of Etmanskie Logging, was at his home just outside of Combermere that evening when the sky went black. He remembers the tornado lasting for only a short time. "It was…three, four minutes, and then everything was pitch black," he said, explaining that power was lost throughout the area.

When the winds died down and he went outside, there was a strong pine scent from the numerous broken trees. People in the area were busy all night, checking on each other and on damaged property, but it wasn't until daylight that everyone realized the extent of the damage. During his
10-minute drive to Combermere the next morning, Mr. Etmanskie noticed many damaged trees, but when he reached the town, he was startled to find how much of it had been flattened. Broken trees and displaced roofs littered the streets and highway. "No one could even get out of their driveways." The logger immediately loaded up two skidders and returned to Combermere to help cut down and remove the debris.

Seven days into the town cleanup, Mr. Etmanskie was clearing 25 damaged pine trees behind St. Paul's Anglican Church and the Mission House Museum (originally the church rectory). He had cut down several with ease using his chain saw, but suddenly, he encountered something strange. "I'm cutting around, cutting around (the tree trunk), I got to the center of it, and I didn't know what I hit," he said. "It just stripped the chain off the chain saw and I couldn't cut anymore."

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