Mist lingers on a field in Saanichton, where the Garry Oak stood for decades. (Black Press file photo)

Iconic Garry Oak tree felled by windstorm in Saanichton

Community members share their memories of the tree

A long-standing Saanichton icon is no more. After decades of being firmly rooted near Mount Newton, alone in a crop field, a Garry Oak fell on Dec. 20.

Longview Farms in Saanichton issued what reads as a eulogy to the tree named Thunderheart:

“You have greeted residents and visitors of our community for decades as they come up Mt. Newton Cross Roads. You have kept our daffodils and hay crops company for many many years. Thank you for the beautiful morning sunrises, misty afternoons and moonlit nights. Your size and unique beauty through the seasons will be missed.”

Ryan Vantreight, general manager at Longview Farms, is the man behind the message. His family has been farming the Saanich Peninsula for generations, so he, like many others in the area, grew up with the tree. He said he was heartbroken when he got the call from a neighbour that the tree was down.

“I was surprised to see how the weight of it compacted. As it fell, it broke up. I was half expecting to see a tree there lying in the field, but it’s just a pile of broken branches,” he said. “You crest the bushes there coming up Mount Newton and you look into the field and nothing’s there. It’s a very strange feeling to look and not see that tree there.”

READ MORE: More than 90,000 remain without power on Vancouver Island

READ MORE: Mature tree falls on Saanich home

His post on Facebook has been shared more than 130 times, gaining hundreds of likes. Many shared their disappointment and photos of the tree standing throughout the years in snow, fog and a field of daffodils. In the end, one rain storm — with the help of winds up to 100 kilometres an hour — took the Garry Oak down.

“It’s been an overwhelming response from the community, how many people that tree was able to impact. It’s one of those things we never expected,” Vantreight said. “Some people say it’s just a tree, but you don’t know the impact of something until it is gone. When you drive past going in or out of Saanichton, that tree was always there — something that would always catch your eye because it was so unique.

“Even though it’s not our tree, I think all of us in Saanichton feel like it was one of our own that we lost.”

It was the previous owners of the land who named the tree Thunderheart. Longview Farms doesn’t know just how old the Garry Oak was, but Vantreight said it predates the memory of anyone he knows. He’s not sure if the owners will do a ring count to confirm its age.

As some asked if they could take a piece of the tree for a keepsake or to give it new life as handcrafted furniture, Longview Farms is also waiting for the answer. They only lease the land for their crops, and do not own the tree or know what McDonalds Farms, the current owner, plans to do with the remnants.

“Please don’t try to grab a piece of history, because in doing so, you’ll be trampling over a crop,” he said. “A lot of people want to be engaged and involved in it. We’re just asking them to be patient at this time.”

This morning, Vantreight is adding “Do not trespass” signs to the field. After all, it’s still home to the daffodils that weathered the storm.

READ MORE: Oak Bay resident wakes with a start as trees crash down


@KeiliBartlett
keili.bartlett@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

The Garry Oak known as Thunderhart in Saanichton was blown down on Dec. 20 during a windstorm. (Longview Farms photo)

Just Posted

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Central Saanich strawberry farmer reports bumper crop

Strawberry season could last well into October

GoodLife marathon helps enrich lives, share stories

Seniors’ care one of many causes supported by GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon

Oak Bay community invited to News’ 5th annual readers tea

Oak Bay News, Carlton House host Sept. 17 afternoon tea

Colwood square dancing open house to welcome in new dancers

“It’s therapy,” said long-time square dancer Linda Townsend

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Tragic bus crash, Pacific FC win and Terry Fox runs

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Scheer makes quick campaign stop in Comox

Conservative leader highlights tax promises early in campaign

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Most Read