How a piece of an iconic N.S. tree brought down by Fiona became Christmas ornaments

The palm-sized ornaments have a photo of the tree taken by Steve Proctor glued to the front. (Victoria Welland/CBC News - image credit)
The palm-sized ornaments have a photo of the tree taken by Steve Proctor glued to the front. (Victoria Welland/CBC News - image credit)

Halifax resident Steve Proctor was devastated when a legendary tree near Shubenacadie, N.S., was felled by post-tropical storm Fiona in September.

He had spent years photographing the tree and looking at it out his window on his many drives between Halifax and Truro.

He got an idea a few weeks after the storm. He would make Christmas ornaments from one of the fallen branches.

"It was quite emotional doing them, and I even saved the sawdust when I was using the saw because it felt kind of sacred," said Proctor.

The 300-year-old tree was iconic for many Nova Scotians.

Dave Laughlin/CBC
Dave Laughlin/CBC

It stood alone in a large field next to Highway 102. It attracted swaths of photographers and visitors over the years.

There was an outpouring of emotion when it came down.

Proctor made over a hundred ornaments and coasters with the branch. They were made by slicing the branch into pieces, drilling a hole for the ribbon and attaching one of his own photos of the tree.

Anne Boudreau bought five of the ornaments — one for each of her four children and one for herself.

New ornaments are a Christmas Eve tradition for her family. When she heard about Proctor's project, she knew they would be the perfect gift.

"I guess that's a little bit of bittersweet because it is gone, but also a nice reminder to have this piece of memorabilia," she said.

Victoria Welland/CBC
Victoria Welland/CBC

Boudreau lives in Milford, N.S., not far from where the tree once stood. She said it carried a power that drew people in.

To have a piece of that with her, she said, is a wonderful feeling.

"It's a certain amount of warmth and gratitude to nature and a reminder of all the beautiful things that we do appreciate around us in nature" she said.

Proctor is donating part of the proceeds from the creations to Fiona relief.

"I'm lucky and there are other people who are not so lucky, and who need help and still continue to need help, and this is a small way that I can do that and give back," Proctor said.

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