Bear River’s red oak
Posted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:19 am
Click on image to see its original size
http://thechronicleherald.ca/thenovasco ... -prominent
Seen in the paper today where there was another pic taping the trunk. No streetview or other pix that I found. Nice tree.
Bear River’s red oak
In anticipation of our country’s birthday, we reflect on shifts which have shaped our nation.
Despite the diversity of our provinces, there are similarities in economic and social trends that influence the ways in which Canadians work and play.
Over the past century and a half, Nova Scotia’s social, political and economic systems have ebbed and flowed like its tides. Industries which once sustained economic growth have yielded to a new age.
Population decline and aging have altered small-town dynamics. Bear River, a small tidal village between the towns of Digby and Annapolis Royal, is an example of this.
Time has reshaped Bear River. However, a magnificent red oak has remained intact, sprawling across the front parking area of the historic Oakdene Centre. The centre is also known as the Oakdene School, and previously Oakdene Academy.
Speculation suggests that the school has been named after the tree that now boasts a circumference of 294 inches.
In 1973, a Department of Lands and Forests employee entered the tree in a competition sponsored by the Nova Scotia Forest Technicians Association. A certificate of registration as a champion tree was awarded for having the largest living red oak in Nova Scotia.
It is possible to determine the age of a tree through a process known as coring, whereby a hand-operated tool is used to drill through to the centre of the tree at 1.3 meters from the ground. Says Simon Mutabazi, provincial extension forester from the Department of Natural Resources, “Even the diameter of a tree is not always a good indicator for determining the age of a tree. There are so many factors at play, such as competition for food, light, and so on.”
Bear River-born Bob Benson feels that the tree could possibly be hundreds of years old. “We in Bear River have a living tree that far exceeds the young age of our country in comparison.” With enthusiasm he adds, “Our Bear River oak would have been present as the Mi’kmaq paddled the river in the birch bark canoes, before Imbert named our river.
“If the tree could talk . . .” he says.
The oak survived a fire that demolished the original three-story Oakdene Academy in the 1930s.
Could the Bear River oak have survived historical events, such as the arrival of the first cherry trees brought from England in the late 18th century, the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists in 1783, the rise and fall of the shipping and shipbuilding industries, the planting of the first vineyards, and the establishment of nearby Port Royal in 1605?
Published memories tell of when the oak was the centre of childhood games in the early 1900s.
Bear River native and former principal of the Oakdene School Frank Marshall recalls a time when he intercepted the cutting down of the tree in the 1980s. He says that the school board, without notice, ordered it to be cut down to allow room for school buses. When men arrived with chainsaws, he says, “I stopped them from cutting it down” by confronting them with “there must be another solution.” And there was. Land was allocated from the neighbouring St. John’s Anglican Church property to accommodate a school bus. A roadway was built around the oak.
Despite the shifts in our nation, province, towns and villages, this much-loved oak tree continues to thrive in picturesque Bear River, untouched by time and circumstance. It is as much a part of the village as are the people.