Winter is winding down. Spring will be here in a little under a month. I don’t know about you, but that gets me in mind of summer roadtrips. You have to book early for many places though, so now is the time to start planning.
So what are you doing this year? Driving from coast to coast? Checking a handful of places off your bucket list? Perhaps revisiting your favourite tried and true locales? Can we make a suggestion? Why not hit the road to check out some trees! Not only are there tens of thousands of trees throughout Canada, but we also have some really cool tree sculptures too. You should add some of these to your list of things to see and place to go in Canada this year. Get motoring!
Canadian Tree Sculptures
The west coast of Canada is well known for its totem poles; the ultimate in tree carving sculptures. Typically, west coast totems are carved from western red cedar using adzes, chisels, axes, carving knives, and more recently, chainsaws. Totems represent family legends and lineage, are used as memorial markers, to commemorate events, and also come in handy to help hold up ceremonial longhouses. Everything from the choosing of the specific tree, to the raising of the totem is sacred and is duly celebrated via ceremonies. And after years of the government trying to assimilate First Nations peoples, and take away their cultural customs, we have finally come back to appreciating these beautiful totems – pure tree art at its best. You can find them throughout BC, but Stanley Park in Vancouver has beautiful totems representing many of the First Nations groups from around coastal British Columbia.
There is a tree sculpture under way in Saskatchewan which aims to capture the essence of Canada in a different way. The Estevan Soldiers Tree is being carved by Darren Jones under the direction of Lester Hinzman, Marie Calder, and a committee of people dedicated to seeing a memorial to World War II soldiers erected in Saskatchewan. There are still finishing touches to be made to the 18-foot-tall tribute carving, but once it is completed, this tree sculpture will be a thing of awe to remind people of the sacrifices Canadian soldiers made in the Second World War. Definitely worth the drive to Estevan.
Downtown Amherst, NS might not be on the top of your bucket list, but it should be! This gateway city has several good carved tree sculptures scattered throughout the downtown area. From the first sculpture—Acadian Settler, carved in 2004 by Albert Devereau—to the many subsequent carvings—including the Fathers of Confederation welcome sign by Bruce Hebert—this city is a hidden gem of tree art. Whether you stay for the trees, or just admire them on your way through to the rest of Nova Scotia is up to you, but make a point of stopping to snap a picture or two.
Nova Scotia has more tree treats in store for the tree sculpture admirers amongst us. Approximately 100 km down the road from Amherst, you will find the Tree Sculpture Capital of Nova Scotia—Truro, NS. When Truro’s majestic elm tree population was devastated by Dutch Elm disease, the town decided to turn their loss into a win by hiring Albert Deveau in 1999 to transform a dead elm into a sculpture of Sir Adams G. Archibald (Truro’s Father of Confederation). Since then, 43 sculptures have been created, by Deveau, Ralph Bigney and Bruce Wood. Stop by the Truro Welcome Centre to pick up a guide to where you can find them in historic Truro.
A little closer to home you will find a few more tree sculptures in Orangeville, ON. More than a few actually. The first tree sculpture was created in 2003, but now 55 sculptures line the streets of Orangeville. Created by 19 tree carving artists from around Ontario, the many sculptors have captured historical figures, tree spirits, art, and the heart and soul of Orangeville. If you’ve ever heard of a tree carver, you will probably find their artwork here.
Of course, you don’t have to go much further than out your front door to find incredible tree sculptures. London, ON has our very own Tree Trunk Tour with 23 incredible tree sculptures around the city, with contributions from Robbin Wenzoski, Neil Cox, Mike Minia, Ted Hayes, Nancy Wood, and Mary-Ann Jack-Bleach. While many of the sculptures center on businesses along Hamilton Rd, there are also tree carvings downtown, at the London Tourism office on Wellington Ave, and at Kiwanis Park. You can spend the day checking out amazing art and still be home for dinner! Now that’s a perfect way to spend the day in our books.
Enjoy the tour!