Who would have guessed that a sculpted 102-year-old cottonwood tree would inspire and touch so many people in the Estevan area?
The Estevan Soldiers’ Tree dedication last weekend was a marvellous event for the city. Not only was it a chance to celebrate the people on the committee who made the monument possible, and the gifted chainsaw sculptor, Darren Jones, who transformed the tree into a tribute to Canada’s military history, but it was a celebration of the men and women who have served, or are currently serving, in the Canadian Forces.
If there was any doubt regarding the community’s thoughts on the project, they should have been dashed by the thousands of people who attended the ceremony, witnessed the parade that preceded the dedication, and travelled to the Estevan Regional Airport to view the military aircraft that participated in several flyovers during the dedication.
It was great to see some of our Second World War veterans on hand to participate in the ribbon cutting. And it was wonderful to see people of all ages involved in the parade.
The dedication was an event worthy of the monument itself.
It was a little less than a year ago when Jones started to shave the first images into the tree. People who dropped by the site where he worked south of the city marvelled at the skill, precision and attention to detail that he applied using his chainsaw. Equally impressive is the speed with which he transformed the tree.
As the figures, faces, symbols and other images started to appear in the tree, it was easy to see that Jones possesses a gift for sculpture.
Most people who look at the tree, and the surrounding benches that are part of the project, might think Jones worked 12-hour days for many weeks to complete the tree. But most of the work was completed in a couple of weeks last October, and then he returned in the spring to apply the finishing touches.
When Jones marvelled at the tree during the dedication ceremony, it wasn’t out of ego or self-promotion. He should be very proud of the work. But he also lauded the community for the support they shown during the past year.
The Soldiers’ Tree monument is something that everyone in the city can be proud of. While it came together fairly quickly, a lot of people dedicated many hours to making it happen. The location next to the city’s cenotaph is ideal. There are now two tributes to local veterans in the heart of Estevan.
The benches allow people to sit and marvel at the project during a period of relaxation. Money has been set aside for the ongoing maintenance of the tree.
It’s going to be a staple, and an asset, for our community for many years to come.
© Copyright 2016 Estevan Mercury