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Old Posted Dec 10, 2007, 8:11 PM
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Stanley Park hollow tree at risk of falling over

Stanley Park hollow tree at risk of falling over
Jonathan Woodward, Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, December 10, 2007

VANCOUVER - Stanley Park's iconic hollow tree - for over a century, a popular photo backdrop for countless visitors, their horses and even their cars - is leaning dangerously and may fall over.

Although the enormous Western red cedar was temporarily strapped to a nearby hemlock last week, it's not yet clear whether the famed tourist attraction can be salvaged permanently, said Vancouver park board chair Ian Robertson.

"There's a lot of history with this tree," he said. "But last December's storm started the tree leaning. We've got an engineering firm to come in and tell us the options. "Certainly we'll try and do everything we can."

Estimated to be as old as 1,000 years, the hollow tree had stood for hundreds of years before Stanley Park opened in 1888. No one knows exactly how old it is because no one can count the rings in its stump - the timber in the centre of the tree has rotted away.

"If you're standing next to something that old, you're getting history," said Tom van der Pauw, who owns a tree nursery and visits the tree. "It sends a shiver down your back."

Park lore has it that from the moment horse-drawn carriages could navigate the park's early roads, people arrived to take pictures in front of - and inside of - the tree. With a girth of nearly 20 metres, the tree provided ample room for horses and their riders.

The hollow tree was a stop on a number of horse-drawn carriage rides, which picked up passengers at major hotels for a drive around the park. And when early automobiles arrived in Vancouver at the turn of the century, many of those cars - such as Stanley Steamers and Ford Model Ts - backed into the tree for the traditional picture.

"We have more visitors and more photographs taken at that site than any other site at the park," said Robertson.

But in the late 20th century the top of the tree was removed. More water seeped into the tree, and the rotting accelerated. Parks staff strapped what remained of the stump together with a network of iron rods and metal straps, said Robertson. But after last year's storm hit the park, tossing more than 1,000 trees aside and destabilizing the ground, the tree's days may be numbered, he said.

Last month, the tree tilted so far that parks officials erected barricades to protect tourists in case the tree falls, and wrapped the tree with steel cables tied to a nearby hemlock. The city has yet to determine how to permanently stabilize the tree, said Robertson.

This weekend the park board will hold a tree-planting ceremony to mark last year's storms, said Robertson. The oldest tree in Stanley Park, another Western red cedar, fell in October. Measured at 45 feet in girth and 40 metres high, the tree likely dated back to the 11th century, said park managers.

jwoodward@png.canwest.com





this is sad.....not to mention that the tree was part of the 2010 mascot promo vid! :p earlier this year, the tallest tree in the park fell...i think it was the giant sequoia.

they should encase it in concrete!
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