A centuries-old Douglas fir tree that came to represent fallen Canadian veterans fell down across Highway #1 on Saturday evening (July 31).
The tree was named “Charlie’s Tree” after First World War pilot and flight instructor Charlie Perkins, who planted ivy near the base of the tree in 1919 to honour all of Canada’s fallen soldiers.
Located on the south side of the freeway just east of the 176 Street overpass, the tree and memorial site featured numerous wreaths, flags and tributes to Charlie and his friends, some of whom didn’t return home after the war.
During construction of the highway in 1960, the plan was for the road to run through the site, located on the Perkins family farm at the time, and the tree was to have come down.
However Charlie and his friends protested the removal of the tree, causing then highways minister Phil Gaglardi to re-route the Trans-Canada Highway around the memorial. A visual bend eastbound on the highway can still be seen today.
Some years ago, the tree was set on fire by vandals and needed to be topped, but the main trunk of the tree and the memorial survived.
A plan is now underway to replace the tree with a more permanent memorial.