I’ve taken this story from this morning’s Vancouver Sun newspaper. In the past, I did a blog about this famous old hollow tree in Stanley Park in Vancouver. It’s a neat story, and a little crazy what people will do to restore a little of the past. Much what I’m trying to do with my Genealogy hunt on my Father’s family and at times, I think my goal is also a little crazy!
As I sit here, with red and sore eyes, from reading all the fine print on the computer on historical sites and magazines, hunting for the elusive documents and stories of my family history. The many trips to the Library to search records, and annoy the staff there. My shoulders are sore from being so intense in my search, my brain won’t shut off, as I try to sleep, but instead, it continues to go into double speed, as it continues to plan and plot of how my family history book will appear when finished and of how I can get all those family members still alive to share in my enthusiasm to remember and be able to hand down to future family generations of where we came from, by getting involved, by sending me precious pictures and documents and trusting me to use them in a nice way, not to mention the cost involved, of every photocopy, every stamp, the printer ink, the record keeping of scads of pieces of paper that have me half buried where I sit to do all this. Little post notes are stuck in and on everything, not to mention my sanity and my husbands wonderful patience when I say..”ok, in just another minute”, as I continue to type away like a dog with a bone, unable to give it up. It’s so addicting and so rewarding when something of interest comes into my hands.
I suppose it’s a project with love and a gift to everyone of my hard work, also greatly helped by my new found cousin Shannon, who really got me interested in this, and had much of the dates and, in which order they fall, as well as my other cousin Dorothy, who is really the last in line who has all the stories and pictures, that, without her, this would all be a mystery to me and also, my sister, Roxanne who has the ability to speak French and can decipher the French sites I need to explore for answers to the past and also has many pictures and things I need to put this together. This has also given me a hobby to wile away my retirement with something interesting. I admit it’s taken me over 100%. Then I will begin on my mother’s Irish side of our history, but I’ll think about that another day.
We are all interested in history and things we love. I guess this tree is very loved by most Vancouverites to want to go to all this trouble and expense to save this landmark of an old dead tree.
It’s quite an interesting story, so please take some time and read it.
A hollow gesture rises in Stanley Park
Keeping the hollow tree opening parted, when it was to be cut off and lifted down, was the project of carpenter Vlado Mofardin. He and colleague John Dart, were reinforcing inside the tree so that when two cranes lifted it, it wouldn't close in on itself.
Photograph by: Ian Smith, Vancouver Sun
Sometime around noon Thursday, a crane will begin the job of resurrecting — or more precisely, re-erecting — Vancouver’s most famous piece of kindling. The Hollow Tree will once again approximate verticality.
The crane will lift it by sling at its upper extremities: a backhoe, if needed, will nudge it forward at its lower extremities. Between the two of them, they hope to get the old girl to her feet in about an hour.
She will then be propped up temporarily with wooden supports. A month later, so goes the plan, a cement foundation will be laid under her, through which something called micropiles will be sunk into the ground to stabilize the foundation and act as the tree’s new roots, while support rods will rise up through the foundation and into the tree’s interior to provide permanent support. The man-made external supports that now give her her Frankenstein-ish look — the girdle of steel cables, the two-by-eight planks, the steel plates and bolts that keep her together — will be removed, and the tree, to quote Lorne Whitehead, a member of the Stanley Park Save The Hollow Tree Society, “will look natural again.” Et voila! A thousand years of germination, photosynthesis and people in Model Ts getting grainy black-and-white photos taken of them while parked inside the tree will resume. Some will take comfort in this.
It will cost about $85,000, estimates are, and mercifully, none of them are tax dollars. The society has raised about $30,000 in donations so far from about 50 donors, a sum to be matched by a $25,000 grant from the B.C. Heritage Fund. The society hopes to raise $30,000 more. The Vancouver park board considered pitching in, but then washed its hands of it.
“It [the hollow tree raising] is kind of an oddball thing,” one society member told me without irony, “and the park board’s not really into doing oddball things.” Indeed.
When the tree is raised today, the operation will be lovingly documented by every camera crew and newspaper in town. The Hollow Tree is 44 feet long and weighs about 20,000 pounds and is the colour of elephant hide. She gives irresistibly good photo ops, despite having been dead for 200 years. It will be interesting to see the different editorial takes on the event, given the public debate around it.
On the Wednesday afternoon before the raising, I went over to take one last look at her before she was righted. I had the place to myself. The glade in which the tree rests was fenced off, but along the fence hung several placards, one of which, borrowing from David Letterman, was entitled Top 10 Reasons To Save The Hollow Tree. There were the usual reasons— it was unique, it was an important tourist destination, it was the first nations’ “Tree of Life” — while No. 5 suggested we should save it because it served as the town hall for the park’s animals in the children’s book Sonny Squirrel and Rodney Raccoon: A Stanley Park Tale — which, as a reason to save the tree, I thought, was a reach. No. 1 was a bit presumptuous. It was:
“Everyone who knows the Hollow Tree loves the Hollow Tree.”
She did not look lovely. She lay at about a 45-degree angle, propped up by a timber as big as a telephone pole. To me, she seemed to be straining earthward against that timber, aching to give in to gravity and the ground’s embrace. There are people at the end of their lives who are not just ready for death but welcome it, because it is a release, and this, to me, was how the Hollow Tree seemed.
She looked not just old but spent, and all I could think of looking at her was how tired the poor dear must be after all these years.
There was that in the prospect of her resurrection that was sad and selfish and even blasphemous. Resurrection is not Man’s business.