CHARLIE’S TREE: Surrey family to replant ivy from fallen memorial

A Surrey pilot's tribute to those lost at war, created in 1919, fell onto Highway 1 over the weekend

A tree named after a First World War veteran fell onto Highway 1 near 200th St and caused a minor accident and traffic backup Saturday. The 300 year-old Douglas Fir acquired the name Charlies Tree

PORT KELLS — Cloverdale’s Mike Perkins was struck with sadness when he got the news that his grandfather’s First World War memorial tree fell over on the weekend.

But he said his grandfather, veteran Charlie Perkins, would’ve had a positive spirit about it.

“My grandfather was a realist,” Mike told the Now Tuesday. “If he was still alive he’d say, ‘That’s just nature doing its thing.’ He was a naturalist long before the term really existed.”

“Charlie’s Tree,” as the memorial is called, was his grandfather’s tribute to those lost at war when he returned home to Surrey in 1919 after serving as a pilot.

SEE MORE: Charlie’s Tree: A Surrey pilot’s tribute to those lost in war

The historic Douglas Fir tree was on the family property in those days, but today it was visible along the south side of Highway 1 just west of 192nd Avenue, though it was hard to spot when driving by.

In front of the tree, a white sign identified it as “Charlie’s Tree.” The ivy that Charlie planted decades ago had grown thick and climbed up the tree.

On the tree was a Canadian flag, a cross, a plaque that read “1919,” a wreath and other tokens. A few wreaths always seemed to pop up around Remembrance Day, though the family isn’t sure who brought them there.

It fell Saturday night (July 30), backing up traffic and reportedly causing a minor accident.

Mike said the tree’s demise was inevitable, seeing as it was topped about 50 years ago.

“I was a little surprised it came down as soon as it did,” he remarked. “But I drove by it (after it fell) and yep, it was rotten to the core.”

A common misconception is that Charlie planted the tree. The family says it was actually about 300 years old.

And interestingly enough, the memorial wasn’t actually the tree, Mike revealed.

“The memorial is the ivy itself,” said Mike. “That’s what my grandfather planted. So that’s saveable. I’m probably going to go do something about that in the next day or so. Get cuttings of it and replant it and keep it alive.”

Mike would like to see the ivy continue to grow at the site, and when the area is inevitably developed he hopes access can be created so the public can stop at the site instead of whizzing by it.

“We have some ideas of what we’d like to see there but I’m going to keep them tight to the chest for now,” he added, cheekily.

Not only did Charlie create the memorial site, he fought for it.

When plans were announced for the Trans-Canada Highway (now Highway 1), Charlie learned it was set to run right through his property – and the area including the tree.

Charlie rallied the community and contacted “Flying” Phil Gaglardi, head of the highways department at the time. As a result, the highway was built around it.

Though the tale goes that Charlie sat in front of the tree with a shotgun in an attempt to save it, his family insists that was not the case.

In 2005, then Fleetwood-Port Kells MP Nina Grewal lobbied the federal government to make the Charlie Perkins Tree a national historic site.

“If a national highway was diverted for this tree and what it represents, surely it is fitting to be a national symbol for Canada,” she said at the time.

Time will tell what becomes of the site, said Mike, but he’s encouraged by the community support since the tree fell.

“It feels great. For the longest time it didn’t seem like a lot of people knew about it,” he said. “If (my grandfather) was still alive he would have just said, ‘Well, that’s the way it goes,’ and done what I’m going to do. Replant the ivy.”

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com

 

Just Posted

Surrey Mounties investigate drive-by shooting in Fleetwood

It happened Monday afternoon in the 8000-block of 153A Street. Police say no victim has been located.

18-year-old to hospital after shots fired in White Rock

Police investigating early-morning incident

UPDATE: White Rock RCMP unaffected by Surrey’s choice of police force, city says

Mayor Darryl Walker to meet with RCMP Staff Sgt. Daryl Creighton

Surrey firefighters tackle blaze at Guildford home

Firefighters have yet to determine what caused the vacant house fire

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Judge rules pit bull cross, chihuahua owners must split costs for dogfight damage

Eac side responsible for $577.43 towards injuries in Comox Valley incident

3 random words mark every spot on earth

Innovative mapping system assigns three word combinations to 57 trillion 3 metre squares

Most fatal overdose victims did not have recent police contact: Stats Canada

11 per cent of those who fatally overdosed in B.C. had four or more contacts with the police

5 to start your day

One left dead after Abbotsford shooting, touching note left on Langley veteran’s windshield and more

Calgarians head to the polls to declare ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on Winter Games

The question “are you for or are you against hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games?” was to be posed to them Tuesday in a plebiscite to help determine whether the city should move ahead with a bid.

Heir’s big birthday: 70 candles lined up for Prince Charles

Prince Charles turns 70 Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, still serving in the heir to the throne role he has filled since he was a young child.

Trudeau lays down challenge to companies in bid to boost trade with Asia

“Building the relationships, building the connections, building the facility and also changing mindsets — getting Canadian companies to see the opportunities we have around the world to partner and invest.”

One person sent to hospital after incident at Langley gas station

Police observed retrieving what appeared to be an exacto knife

Most Read