The story of the decorated Christmas tree along the Saskatoon riverbank

·2 min read

If you walk along the banks of the river in Saskatoon, you might come across one tree that's not like the others.

Nestled in among the naked branches around the 1700 block of Spadina, about a 10-minute walk from the Trestle Bridge, is a particularly colourful tree decorated with Christmas ornaments and, on some occasions, signs of goodwill.

It all started in winter 2019.

Allan Wickstrom had been walking the same stretch of riverbank frequently for several years. One day, as he was stepping out of his car for his walk, he noticed an ornament in the vehicle.

Wickstrom took the ornament along for his walk and eventually found a tree to put it on.

When he returned for his next walk, he brought another ornament with him.

Wickstrom continued the this activity daily until a cohesive Christmas display began to form. He then started noticing ornaments that didn't belong to him were appearing on the tree.

Fast forward to winter 2020. Wickstrom decided to give his riverbank decorating another go.

Day after day he started populating the tree with ornaments and again he noticed other people were doing the same. Eventually, donations started appearing under the tree.

Chanss Lagaden/CBC
Chanss Lagaden/CBC

Wickstrom said he showed up one day and there were two bags under the tree. Each bag had a jacket inside, with a note that read "Merry Christmas."

"They stayed there for a couple of days and just before Christmas they disappeared," Wickstrom said. "I hope somebody that needed them took them away."

On a different day, envelopes with money inside appeared on the tree.

Wickstrom decided to leave the envelopes alone, with plans to donate the money if it was still there after the new year.

When he visited the tree on Tuesday, the envelopes and money had disappeared too.

"I hope someone who needed them has got them because it was kind of fun doing it."

Chanss Lagaden/CBC
Chanss Lagaden/CBC

Wickstrom said the acts of kindness and extra ornaments gave him a "really good feeling," especially during a difficult year. He thinks COVID-19 might be what encouraged the growth of his little project.

"I could tell this year all through the summer and the fall that there were more people walking out on the trails just because we were staying at home. There wasn't much else to do," he said.

Wickstrom said he plans to take the ornaments down early in the new year and plans to continue the tradition again next December.

What started as a fun thing to do on his walk has now turned into an idea that Wickstrom hopes can help people in need.

"If we get it started the first week of December and just let it grow like that and people start putting decorations and stuff on it, we can see that the money gets down to the food bank or Salvation Army."