Not many years ago, it looked like Canada's maple trees were in deep trouble. There were reports out of Quebec that huge groves of maples were dying back while up and down the concession lines of Bruce County, many of the trees were leafless by late summer. Now it seems that it was harsh winters that did the damage. The maple tree is in seemingly good health. Well, let's hope so. The maple leaf has long been considered an appropriate emblem for Canada. Maple leaves have been used in the coats of arms granted to Ontario and Quebec and, in 1921, the maple leaf appeared on the new Canadian coat of arms. Used on regimental badges in both European wars, the maple leaf gained national officialdom in 1965 when the new flag was adopted. And then there is the hockey team and the unofficial anthem - The Maple Leaf Forever. There are approximately 125 species of maples around the world with over two-thirds of them growing in China. Only 10 maple species can be found in the maple-proud country of Canada. Of course, that includes the world famous sugar maple. Quebec leads the world in maple syrup production with over 75% of the global output. Strange to say, however, the maple tree was once an enemy of Bruce County's early settlers. Thousands of acres of good, tillable land were covered with maples when the first farmers addressed the countryside. Wielding a flaming torch, our ancestors waded into the forests and turned the trees into potash. Exported in great quantities to England to be used in the manufacture of soap need in the woolen industry, the ash of the maple was also essential for making glass and gunpowder. Today, Bruce County forests abound in maple, a reminder of the importance of the tree in Canadian culture.