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'It's a constant in our lives': Nova Scotians mourn iconic tree felled by Fiona

Monday, September 26th 2022, 10:53 am - The Stewiacke or Shubie tree was a beloved Bluenose icon

Amid the battered power poles and flooded homes ravaged by post-tropical storm Fiona, there was a smaller disaster that united Nova Scotians in a widespread outpouring of heartfelt sorrow.

"The one that signals a road trip, and welcomes you back home … is gone," wrote Amanda Dodsworth on Facebook.

"It had weathered an estimated 300 years of storms, but could not withstand this one. My heart it [sic] so sad that that tree will never welcome me home again."

CBC: This tree has stood in a field near Highway 102 between Truro and Halifax for an estimated 300 years. It was blown down during post-tropical storm Fiona. (Len Wagg) This tree has stood in a field near Highway 102 between Truro and Halifax for an estimated 300 years. It was blown down during post-tropical storm Fiona. (Len Wagg submitted via CBC)

The hurricane-strength winds that Fiona unleashed on the Atlantic provinces over the weekend felled the red oak that stood, alone and adored, in a field along Highway 102. Known as the Stewiacke or Shubie tree or sometimes simply "the tree," it has captivated Nova Scotians with its serene, solitary presence, seen by many as a welcoming sentinel on the commute between Truro and Halifax.


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CBC - The tree lies in the field after being downed by Fiona. (Len Wagg/CBC) The tree lies in the field after being downed by Fiona. (Len Wagg submitted via CBC)

"Every time I post the tree, people would talk about what it meant to them," said Len Wagg, a local photographer who estimated he's taken thousands of photos of the tree.

"And it was always words like, it's home. It was words like, it's my touchstone. It's words like, I know things are gonna be OK when the tree's OK."

The red oak tree was an estimated 300 years old and has been photographed thousands of times by professionals and amateurs alike. It had a sturdy trunk under a near-perfect halo of spreading branches that were as elegant silhouetted against sunrise as they were dusted in fresh snow.

cbc: Photographer Len Wagg says he's taken thousands of photos of the tree over the years. (Len Wagg) Photographer Len Wagg says he's taken thousands of photos of the tree over the years. (Len Wagg submitted via CBC)


RELATED: Schools, businesses closed in Nova Scotia as power outages persist after Fiona


Wagg said he went straight over to the field when he learned about the tree on Saturday morning and took photos of the former giant lying shattered and defeated on the soggy ground. His Facebook post has been shared nearly 4,000 times - along with photos and tributes by other photographers, all being shared with words of loving farewell.

"I LOVE that tree!" wrote Staci Cornett on Facebook. "I always felt like it symbolized bravery, strength and solitude to stand tall against the elements. It just goes to show that even the best can break."

The tree stood on private property, and the owners declined an interview with the CBC on Sunday. Wagg said he spoke to them before taking his final photos and said like so many others, they were saddened by the tree's sudden ending.

CBC: Many commuters and travellers have admired the tree as they passed it on the highway. (Len Wagg) Many commuters and travellers have admired the tree as they passed it on the highway. (Len Wagg submitted via CBC)


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Though the field was private property, Wagg said the tree had nonetheless played a part in countless lives over many years.

"People have been married underneath that tree. People have gotten engaged underneath that tree," he said. "People have had their birthdays, you know, their kids' pictures taken underneath that tree. How many hundreds of thousands of trees came out this weekend, but … that one hit hard. It's a constant in our lives that's gone down."

WATCH: Huge tree crushes pool as Fiona causes extensive damage in Pictou County

This article, written byRuth Davenport, was originally published for CBC News.

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