Fleetwood tree story

 

Big Leaf Maple Acer macrophyllum

 

1850 – Present day, Cowichan Station, Koksilah River, Vancouver Island, BC

 

From great trees....mighty branches fall (this one fell in a snow storm, 2005).

 

From great branches…great tables evolve.

 

It is estimated that the maple that created this Live Edge table is 150 years old (though the true age is not known as the full growth rings can not be seen, most of the tree is still standing and still growing).

Maple is a very well utilized tree; called the ‘paddle tree’ in many First Nations languages because the wood was used to make paddles. It was also used for spindle whorls, the Saanich used preparations from this maple to make medicine for sore throats, and the leaves were rubbed on a man’s face at puberty to prevent the growth of thick whiskers. The big leaves are good for making temporary containers, the sprouted seeds were eaten by Nlaka’pamux and the sap can even be used to make maple syrup though much larger quantities are required then that of the Eastern Sugar Maple.

Live Edge Design rescued parts of this tree from a future of firewood and waste to create an organic masterpiece, a dining table that showcases the beauty of the Maple with natural curves and kinks that mirror the movement of the river close by.

This tree was found along the bank of the Koksilah, a river that is home to the spawning salmon, next to a small wooden bridge in Cowichan Station.

Cowichan Station is a small community located west of the Island Highway, near Whippletree Junction. The little church and rail station on Koksilah Road is all that remains of a much larger settlement built in 1885 as a stop-off for the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway. Cowichan Station was built to service settlers living in the area as well as the logging and copper mine operations located on Mount Sicker and Mount Prevost. The fate of Cowichan Station was sealed by a fire in 1911 that destroyed most of the town, leaving only the train station and St. Andrew's Church

A typical mixed forest of Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Grand Fir and Bigleaf Maple lean over the river and, at Easter time, fawn lilies nod among the trees. Black-tail Deer, Raccoon, Bald Eagles, Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Steelhead Trout and Mergansers can be seen frequenting this area as well as the occasional black bear and cougar.

 

Surviving tree
The tree from the bridge
One of the many thing made from a limb of this tree.

Oh Lord, if there’s no room in heaven

Be merciful, send me back home

To the beautiful Cowichan Valley

And there forever I’ll roam

Thru it’s forests of fir trees and maples,

By it’s lakes and it’s rivers so clean,

And I’ll view from the crests of the mountains –

The land where God’s touches have been;

 

Let me stroll by the bays and the beaches,

Where the sands are washed clean by the waves,

Where early at dawning, the Old Ones,

Arise from their long silent graves,

And will join with me there in the spirit

-Like me they were part of the scene;

Like me they’ll return to their homeland –

-Cowichan – wherever they’ve been.

WHJ (Jack) Fleetwood

A picture of the tree in 1924

 

Many thanks to:

 

Marie Skertchly, for allowing us to use her fathers (Jack Fleetwood) poem.

Jennifer Hobhouse Balme, author of the Hidden Vale; St Andrews and the Old South Cowichan.

Chris Hill for the use of the post card image from 1924 from his collection.

Tree story